Top 10 B2C Marketing Tactics to Use in B2B

August 9, 2017 | Jessica Mehring

What comes to mind when you read the phrase “B2B marketing?”

The term “boring to boring” gets thrown out there a lot.

What marketers often forget is that businesses are made up of human beings. Don’t think for a moment that B2B marketing has to be less exciting than marketing to consumers. You’re still selling to people.

Here are 10 tactics B2B marketers can steal from the successful B2C marketing pros to create more engaging, more human B2B marketing campaigns.

Tactic 1: Make It a Game

Gamification is popping up everywhere these days, fueled by our need for connection and instant gratification. Who can forget the Pokémon GO craze of 2016?

If you’re unsure what gamification even means, here’s a quick definition:

Gamification is the practice of applying game-playing elements to non-game activities.

Nike+ is a great example of this. This app developed by athletic footwear company Nike works with connected devices such as the Fuelband. Users can set their own fitness goals within the app, monitor their training progress, and compete with other users – and their connected Nike devices send data to the app as they move.

With this app, Nike has gamified sports and athletics – and made it even more compelling for users to buy Nike products so they can join in the fun.

Starbucks is another example of a B2B company who has successfully gamified the purchase process. The Starbucks Rewards app awards points for each purchase, and rewards users with free food and drinks when they reach certain point levels.

But Starbucks didn’t stop there. View the app on your mobile device and you’ll find a store locator, menu, ads for new products, mobile ordering functionality, and even music playlists. View the app on a desktop browser and you’ll find most of those features, plus additional games and blog posts.


Tactic 2: Personalize

Marketo reports some astounding statistics in their article How is Personalization Changing the Face of Marketing?.

  • In 2013, 84% of all email was spam.
  • The average person sees around 1,700 banner ads per month.
  • Customer-centric marketing increases online sales by 25%.
  • Email personalization boosts open rates by 26%, and click-through rates by 97%

What do these numbers add up to? Your audience is bombarded 24/7 by marketing messages, and they want to stop being treated like a name on a list. A little personalization goes a long way toward gaining your audience’s trust, attention and engagement.

“Personalization” simply means delivering a more individualized marketing experience to your audience using the information you know about them.

Netflix does this by suggesting movies and TV shows based on your viewing habits.


Amazon does this by suggesting products related to your purchase, showing you products that other customers have bought instead of the one you’re looking at, and displaying products they think you might like based on purchases you’ve made in the past.


Personalization can be as simple as using your customer’s first name in your marketing emails. But you can take personalization further than that without advanced marketing technology.

A simple quiz at the top of your funnel can help customers self-segment, giving you the opportunity to send only the most appropriate content to them.

Here’s an example from super-marketer Ramit Sethi.


Tactic 3: Show, Don’t Tell

“Show, don’t tell,” isn’t just great advice for creative writers, it’s also great marketing advice.

Interactive content brings your message to life and makes it so much more engaging for the user at any point in the funnel. A whopping 91% of people prefer it to traditional marketing formats – plus it provides marketers with insight into their audience that can be used to inform future campaigns.

This is something B2C marketers have known for a long time – and used very successfully. It’s time more B2B marketers jump on the bandwagon!

Dominos Pizza took interactive content into the stratosphere with their DXP campaign. It began with a fleet of custom-engineered pizza delivery cars, but it was the interactive microsite that brought the campaign to the masses. On the site you can get a 360-degree tour of these impressive vehicles, or find one of the fleet near you.


Language learning company Rosetta Stone also used interactive content as a way to engage their target audience with a little show-don’t-tell. Their love languages campaign was beautifully brought to life with a selection of interactive content elements.


Tactic 4: Get Them Involved

Any content that gets a user involved in the process is going to be a step ahead of static content. Interactive content is engaging – and I don’t mean that in nebulous marketing terms. I mean the user literally has to engage, interact with, participate in the content in order to consume it.

There’s so much noise online today. Cutting through it all to get the attention of your target audience takes more than quality (though quality is still vastly more important than quantity), and it takes more than a punishing content production schedule. It takes a thoughtful approach to pulling the reader out of the everyday mass of content and into a content experience.

For more on this, I highly recommend this post from Robbie Richards.

A quiz is one of the most effective ways to get users engaged and moving down the funnel – and B2C marketers have done a bang-up job with them for years. Let’s steal this tactic for B2B and give them a run for their money, shall we?

Here are some examples to inspire your B2B marketing efforts …

The American Red Cross raises awareness for key issues with their educational quizzes. These topics may otherwise be – well, frankly, boring. In quiz format, however, learning about a subject becomes a game.


This Boston Globe quiz helps users find their perfect peak … but it’s actually a clever marketing asset from Sunday River.


Tactic 5: Tell a story

The human brain loves nothing more than a good story. A story captures attention, teaches, triggers the listener’s imagination, and connects people on an emotional level. Done well, a story creates a lasting memory – and leaves a lasting impression.

Chanel did this with their Inside Chanel microsite. It tells the story of the fashion house’s history, but also engages the reader with interactive elements. The content itself pulls the reader in – but the story that’s told in these pages gives the reader a glimpse into the mysterious and luxurious world of Chanel.


No section on storytelling would be complete without mentioning Chipotle: A Love Story. I’ve mentioned this in a few other posts, and it continues to be a stellar example of content marketing with heart.

This microsite includes a short, animated film that is both touching and cute. It also includes an interactive game where users can win free food. Most importantly, though, it tells a story that you’ll remember.


Tactic 6: Appeal to Emotion

Maybe it’s because B2C marketers are naturally more human-focused, but so much B2C marketing appeals to emotion. Remember, B2B marketers, your customers are human, too! So appealing to your target audience’s emotions can work just as well for you.

I could have used that Chipotle example in this section, but I found an example from Intel that I think speaks more clearly as to how you can use this in the B2B space.

Intel has taken a complex product – RealSense™ depth-perception technology – and made it relatable by associating it with emotional visuals and storytelling.


Tactic 7: Educate With Explainer Videos

Studies pulled from an eMarketer report found that video is one of the top 3 most useful types of content for B2B buyers – and Unbounce has shown that an explainer video on a homepage can increase conversion rates by 20%. So why is B2C and SaaS getting all the glory? Marketers in all industries should take note.

Explainer videos are short videos that tell a company’s story, illustrate how a product works, or otherwise explain something critical to the buying process.

They can be live-action, animated, Claymation, hand-drawn – it’s not the visual medium that matters, but rather the purpose. And that purpose is to capture attention and provide crucial information.

Here’s an example from PriceLift, a company that provides home renovations for the purpose of increasing the property value during a sale.

This explainer video from Dropbox Paper is another great example. It’s bright and cheerful and oh so human – but it shows clearly how the product works.


Tactic 8:  Make It Human

I’ve hit this point from a few different angles – but let’s hit it head-on, because this is where B2C marketers can really teach B2B a thing or two. B2C marketers are pros at creating human connections with their audiences, which results in raving fans and die-hard brand advocates.

Apple is the perfect example of this. Everything about their marketing is human. Apple illustrates the benefits of their products in real life. They show their products being used in real, everyday situations. Often those situations are funny or heartfelt, but they’re always quintessentially personal.

Here’s an example:

Tactic 9: Leverage Your Corporate Culture

No matter how complex or seemingly dull the product is you’re trying to sell, there’s a human side to the company behind it. Take a note from B2C marketers and turn your corporate culture into a compelling story through marketing content.

Salesforce is a prime example of a company that’s done this well. The products Salesforce offers – CRM solutions, analytics, marketing software, IoT – are, at first glance, pretty cold and distant.

The company has done an outstanding job bringing a human element to their marketing (spend some time on the website and you’ll see what I mean!), but where they really shine is how they bring their warm and friendly corporate culture to the forefront.

Take a look at their sustainability page, for example. They’re speaking their audience’s language (“key stakeholder”) while illustrating their efforts to improve the state of the world as a company.


Tactic 10: Build a Community

In the world of consumer marketing, communities are par for the course. “Join the club!” “Participate in our active Facebook group!” “Get answers and connect with others just like you in our forum!”

Betabrand has a public photo board right on their website, keeping their community in-house rather than on a separate social media platform.


Almost 2 million Facebook users “like” the lululemon clothing brand page – and they’re well-rewarded for it because the company posts outstanding content every single day.


As a B2B marketer, you can take a page out of H&R Block’s playbook when it comes to community building. Their online community connects users to tax professionals so they can get quick answers to their tax questions.


Business to PEOPLE

I could write a book on the subject of B2C marketing tactics that work in B2B marketing … because frankly there are few tactics that don’t work for both.

The logistics of a B2B purchase may be different. There may be more decision-makers involved in a B2B purchase. The B2B sales cycle may be longer, and those customers may need more information before they make a purchase. But in the end, you’re still marketing to people.

So don’t let B2C marketers have all the fun!



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