B2B Ecommerce Marketing vs. B2C Ecommerce Marketing

Posted August 18, 2017 by   in Digital Marketing, Ecommerce Marketing, Marketing Strategy

In the world of ecommerce marketing, it’s easy to think that little differences exist between B2C and B2B. In our experience though, this is hardly the case. Marketing directly to a consumer versus marketing to a business has several key differences. “But they’re both buying online” you say? Well, yes. But not all strategies work equally for each of these types of businesses.

When putting together your ecommerce marketing plan for 2017, consider these 3 distinct ways that B2B and B2C ecommerce marketing are different.

1. GETTING FOUND with ecommerce marketing

Understanding how and why your consumers find you is the starting point to your ecommerce marketing strategy. Determining where your audience “lives” will highlight the best outlets to get it in front of them. LinkedIn is the typically the top social channel for B2B versus Facebook–which still dominates B2C as well as other social channels that are gaining market share, such as Instagram and Pinterest.

Your B2B audience is seeking education and expertise so they can be the ones who go back to their team with the knowledge and understanding of the products they seek. A very intentional ecommerce content marketing plan is needed to help users find your business, position you as a thought leader, and purchase your products online once they’re there. This content helps build trust, which is key in B2B relationships. Conversely, B2C audiences are seeking deals or shareable, entertaining content on social channels. This content keeps them engaged with your brand and products, and entices them to continue coming back to your site to purchase.

Getting Found with eCommerce Marketing


With both types of ecommerce marketing, it’s imperative to pay close attention to the purchase journey. The path to purchase for B2B looks very different than that of B2C. Direct consumers are typically fulfilling an immediate need, and their decision process is short. The decision to buy is frequently driven by emotion, so the benefits or results, as well as the price and any deals, should be front and center. Additionally, product reviews are essential to satisfying any concerns in the brief window of time that they are ready to buy. There should be little distraction otherwise, and as few steps or clicks as possible to allow the user to purchase.  

B2B purchase paths are a lot more complex and drawn out. There are usually several approvers and the decision is based on specifications, facts, budgets, and PO numbers. B2B purchases typically involve more products per order and therefore have a higher average order value. This typically requires nurturing a long-term partnership to build up trust. Education around the product should be more geared towards the logistics, such as product dimensions, bulk pricing, shipping/freight costs and times, etc. Consumer reviews and testimonials are also an important step towards getting an online purchase.


3. ON-GOING NURTURING with ecommerce marketing

Once a purchase is made, how do you keep that buyer as a customer? True to both B2B and B2C, marketing directly to each individual person, one-to-one will provide the best user experience. Putting the right tools in place will help you achieve this and grow your relationship with that customer. B2C ecommerce marketing tools will help you control all touch points, including customized recommendations to individuals through their user account or through ecommerce email marketing.

B2B marketing should focus on keeping all customer data up to date, accurate and all in one place. This makes it easy to track the relationship, follow up when necessary and be in the know about all things in regards to the relationship. B2B customers typically have a dedicated sales rep that they trust and it is important that the customer service experience is seamless for both online and offline communications. This also sets your business up for engaging with customers through campaigns and easily being able to filter specific types of customers.

When your business puts together your ecommerce marketing plan for 2017, remember there are numerous digital touch points with which your customers will engage. Think through them as if you were the consumer yourself, and make sure you are giving attention to each aspect. Buyer habits differ way beyond B2B versus B2C, so dissect each part of your purchase funnel to really understand how your target audience is behaving at that particular stage.

On-going Nurturing with eCommerce Marketing

At the end of the day though, you can always just ASK. Ask customers and potential customers how they found you, ask them what made them purchase, ask them what you could do better to keep their business.