What Are the Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing Automation?

January 15, 2021 | 4 minute read
Michael Azrikan
Digital Campaign Manager
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Back in 2016, Bold Digital found that more than 480,000 sites were using marketing automaton software and expected that number to go up. As of 2019, 51% of companies use marketing automation technology, and 58% of B2B businesses plan to adopt it, according to Emailmonday. Marketing automation doesn’t only work for B2B. It can for B2C as well. Years ago, eMarketer found that B2C businesses saw conversion rates climb as high as 50% once they started using automation in their campaigns.

Basics of B2B vs. B2C marketing automation

Many differences exist between B2C and B2B marketing automation. The unique characteristics attributed to B2C and B2B technology are mostly derived from the differences in the business models traditionally associated with B2B and B2C relationships. This is why B2C relationships with ‘considered purchase’ use cases are often a better fit for B2B marketing automation due to the nurture capabilities it offers.

In both cases, marketers are striving to send the right message at the right time on the right channel. They seek to master customer signals and personalize content as much as they can and use A/B and multivariate testing to optimize their campaigns, emails, landing pages, and websites. In the end, regardless of business model, marketers aim to have their investment in marketing technology lead to ROI.

In B2C relationships, the focus is on much larger audiences of consumers. It always relies more on emotion than B2B relationships (not that B2B is void of emotion). Typically, the B2C buyer makes the buying decisions themselves, which can be an impulse buy or a purchase that does not tend to require a lot of time, consideration or research.

In B2B relationships, the focus is more on the account which often has a buying committee or multiple purchase influencers. Marketers need to curate business relationships while also providing information to help nurture leads. The process involves more decision makers and is more drawn-out. The tone tends to be more professional.

Differences between B2B and B2C marketing automation

When it comes to marketing automation, B2B and B2C marketers address these things differently:

Engagement channels

Due to how they try to connect with larger and more varied groups of customers, B2C marketers can reach out to on channels such as email, web, mobile, social but also TV, radio, or even a billboard ad. B2B marketers don’t use as many channels as B2C. Email marketing tends to be the primary B2B channel, but B2B marketers can also use mobile, search, and even social but not TV or radio.

Working with data

B2B marketers monitor users’ browsing behavior on their websites and look at their previous dealings with their business (if there are any), their backgrounds, information on their organizations, positions, and titles. With this data, they segment their audience and target them with relevant content, such as:

  • Thought leadership

  • Product updates

  • Industry news

Also, B2B marketers tend to integrate their marketing automation system with their CRM system to help with this, something B2C marketers don’t do. 

B2C marketers are required to have permission to talk to any channel. They ask for permission to communicate, and then they add in as much social media, third-party data, and behaviors data as they can to personalize their marketing. In addition, B2C marketers frequently invite customers to events, or interact on social media, or interact with a poll or a game, or an activity to further engage with them and find out more about them and their preferences.   

Focus of engagement

B2C marketing automation puts more of an emphasis on individual customer retention and retargeting. While it also focuses on retention, B2B marketing automation does this at the account level, and focuses more on lead scoring and nurturing. Increasingly B2B technology is helping marketers to capture both account and individual level intelligence to create engagement that feels personal, like it does in B2C.  

Marketing automation KPIs

While revenue is the ultimate goal for both B2C and B2B marketing, they look at different metrics to gauge how their campaigns are performing.

B2B marketers look at:

  • Quality of leads

  • Speed to lead

  • Account lifetime value

B2C marketers look at:

  • Email open rates

  • Shopping cart abandonment rates

Marketing automation helps you better target customers

Whether B2B or B2C, marketing automation provides efficiency, letting marketing teams do more with less, so even small marketing teams can compete with larger ones. It helps you better segment and target to deliver higher-quality leads or interest more people in your brand. The differences arise from the audiences they are targeting. However, as a marketer, you should always put the customer first and think of how to address their pain points. Marketing automation will then help connect with them and provide a solution.


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Michael Azrikan

Digital Campaign Manager

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