What B-to-C Marketers Gain From the Evolution of CRM
B-to-C marketers can only learn so much from their B-to-B counterparts. Though they're both marketers, the B-to-C sales cycles is extremely different and, as a result, the marketing processes are too.
For example, if your target decision maker in B-to-B is an operations manager shopping for high-end software, you can manage your interactions with that person in a centralized place, over a relatively predictable amount of time. Furthermore, you can lean heavily on analytical insights to sell more products to that customer and others like her with greater efficiency.
However, if your target decision maker is a consumer shopping for flip-flops to take on his beach trip, the same type of predictable, managed B-to-B approach is irrelevant to you.
Marketing high-priced software is very different than marketing shoes. And for the last several decades, B-to-B and B-to-C marketers have had to use the same tools, which were less effective for marketers in the B-to-C industry. Customer relationship management (CRM) software, in particular, has been confined to the B-to-B realm, and B-to-C campaigns couldn't tap into these same benefits.
But today, B-to-C marketers now have access to their own CRM that helps enable e-commerce, mobile shopping and multichannel communications.
After 20 Years, B2C Marketers Find Worth in CRM
CRM has been around for two decades or more. Back in the 1980s, B-to-B marketers were using contact management and database marketing to manage their engagements with customers and qualify leads for their sales teams. By the middle of the 1990s, those methods had developed into full-fledged CRM suites that helped nurture prospects and deliver a steady diet of leads to B-to-B sales teams.
Meanwhile, the companies that sold products to consumers were interacting with their buyers primarily via one channel: their brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, that's no longer true. Today, the B-to-C marketer trying to sell flip-flops to a consumer — or more accurately, to thousands or hundreds of thousands of consumers — is interacting via multiple channels.
Your buyer might shop in-store, but he’s more likely today to shop online and to do so from multiple devices before he finally puts an item in his virtual shopping cart and checks out. All of those touchpoints can create confusion for marketers struggling to get a complete view of their customers’ activities. How do your buyers interact with your brand, and which marketing campaigns actually drive final purchase decisions?
What makes this challenging is that B-to-C marketers typically see about six different identities for each consumer. The man who is getting ready for his beach trip, for example, might first browse for flip-flops from his computer, then narrow his choices via his iPad, take a last look at his favorite option on his smartphone, and then finally buy his favorite pair of sandals from his laptop. He’s one consumer, and his journey can teach a marketer a lot about how to sell to others like him. The challenge is he ends up looking like multiple people depending on which device he’s using.
That’s a problem for B-to-C marketers. Not only does it harm their ability to create omnichannel campaigns that drive sales, but it’s likely to spark negative customer experiences. For example, if you’re pushing cart abandonment messages to the guy walking around the beach in your brand’s flip-flops, you’ve turned a chance to create brand loyalty into an annoyance for your customer.
Seventy percent of the buying experience is based on how customers feel brands treat them, according to McKinsey. Siloed data about consumer activity makes it challenging for e-commerce retailers to scale positive treatment. A new wave of CRM solutions specifically built to solve this problem — not to fit B-to-B marketing needs — is enabling a better future for B-to-C e-commerce marketers.
CRM Isn't One Size Fits All — What B-to-C Marketers Need Now
CRM solutions for B-to-C companies are geared toward marketers, not salespeople. They're designed for shorter buying cycles, higher sales volume and lower value purchases than the tools B-to-B companies have used since the 1980s. Furthermore, B-to-C CRM can personalize marketing campaigns for millions of customer interactions, targeting multiple sales per customer.
Marketers creating campaigns for consumers must optimize for a multichannel landscape in which customers expect to be recognized, regardless of which device they use to do business with their favorite brands. CRM specifically built for B-to-C marketers fuels the optimized campaigns and personalized communications so essential to brand loyalty in competitive e-commerce markets.
Eric Keating is the vice president of marketing at Zaius, a B-to-C CRM marketing platform.
Eric Keating is the Vice President of Marketing at Zaius, a B2C CRM marketing platform. A go-to-market business leader, Eric is focused on helping top consumer brands grow by improving their understanding of customer behavior. Prior to joining Zaius, he was the vice president of the software-as-a-service division at Millward Brown Digital.