Leonie Mercedes
Leonie Mercedes 12 March 2019

Does Marketing Automation Work in B2C?

Although B2C consumers are taking a different customer journey compared with their B2B counterparts, a lot of the same rules apply when it comes to marketing automation, particularly where high-consideration purchases are concerned. This article will look at three of the best ways marketing automation lets B2C businesses better serve their customers.

Marketing automation platforms have proven to be indispensable in the realm of B2B, where sales cycles are long, products are more complex, and it’s even more important for customers to feel satisfied that they’re making the right purchasing decision. An automated marketing campaign helps keep leads warm by sending the right content at the right time, until they are ready to buy.

What is the difference between the B2B and B2C sales cycles (and customers)?

Before we consider what marketing automation offers B2C customers, let’s first look at the main similarities and differences between B2B and B2C in terms of customers and sales cycles.

For both B2B and B2C marketers, the goal for any marketing automation campaign would be to increase revenue while ensuring customer satisfaction. However, while the B2B campaign is a slow burn, in B2C, where customer decisions may be made on impulse, things may have to move a lot faster.

Fundamentally, all customers want the same thing from their experiences with businesses, whether they are B2B or B2C, which is to feel valued, informed and satisfied with their purchases. B2C businesses can achieve this by using marketing automation software in the following three ways.

#1 Personalising the content you send

According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Marketing automation platforms let B2C companies include certain personalised elements of the emails they send, such as the recipient’s name. Also, by segmenting customer lists by criteria such as readiness to buy, in much the same way that B2Bs keep their leads warm by delivering relevant content, B2C companies can keep potential customers interested.

This capability is made even more powerful by setting up triggers, so that a certain type of email will be sent when the customer takes a certain action, or after a certain time.

For example, an abandoned basket email might be triggered an hour after the customer has left the website after adding a product to their basket, or a welcome email containing a money-off voucher might be sent to all new customers who sign up to the email list.

Trigger emails, also offering money off the customer’s next purchase or free shipping, for example, could also re-engage customers who have not been on the site for several months.

#2 Building brand loyalty and trust

Marketing automation enables an ongoing conversation with the customer, presenting the opportunity for the business to present itself as a thought leader, or an authority on the product it is selling.

In the same way B2B businesses nurture their leads with data-driven automated email campaigns, B2C companies that sell high-consideration items – for example cars or holidays – can keep potential customers engaged by delivering content related to the product they are considering buying. This steady trickle of relevant, informative content makes the customer feel as though they’re in a better position to decide to buy while keeping the business top-of-mind while they are shopping around.

Content delivered after the purchase, such as a reminder to take their new car for a service six months after the purchase date, makes the customer feel better about their buy and can build loyalty – and trust – towards the brand, translating into repeat business or greater spend later.

#3 Getting feedback on what’s working

Every interaction a customer has with you, such as streaming a webinar or downloading a resource, tells you something else about who they are and what they need.

A marketing automation platform lets you respond to any actions the customer takes, and at speed, which is particularly important in B2C. This is particularly informative when creating content campaigns. For example, after determining what pieces of content provoke which responses, and which specific actions lead to a sale, you can optimise for the best campaign elements, or nix anything that isn’t working on the fly.

Social can bring a new dimension to this understanding of the customer – understanding what shared content appeals to your customers on social, and what leads to conversions, can help you reach many more potential customers.

To learn more about this topic, you can download Act-On’s Making Marketing Automation a Reality eBook, published in partnership with Digital Doughnut sister company London Research

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