Business marketing directly to consumers (B2C) has changed over the years, and it continues to evolve in a techno-centric way that promises massive profits for those who can master it. For instance, in earlier decades, businesses distributed coupon books and flyers via the mail. Although these techniques are largely antiquated, some struggling businesses still rely on them–much to their ongoing detriment.
More often, businesses now digitally target customers with coupons and calls to action that appear on cellphones or in games as in-game purchases. Commercials are alive and well, but they have transformed from a three-minute interlude in a 30-minute nightly comedy to a six-second plug between two-minute videos. Although businesses adopt some of these newer modes of marketing, business owners must understand that B2C marketing is already transforming beyond these relatively new examples.
Regardless, the ongoing evolution of marketing techniques will not stop. As a result, whatever single strategy you use to reach new customers, recover old ones, and satisfy current ones today is likely not the one you will use tomorrow.
Top 10 B2C trends
1. Immersive Experiences
For certain industries, B2C marketing will be immersive, engaging, and exciting. For instance, Realtors already connect with potential buyers and sellers via 360-degree videos that allow for a complete tour through an agent’s portfolio. However, for other industries, such as travel, the new trend is that virtual tours will take place on an estate or city scale.
As graphic quality increases and the need for powerful desktop computers decreases, businesses are increasingly able to connect with customers’ hearts in ways that translate into immediate sales and loyal followers. Theme parks, such as Disney, are also spearheading such technology. However, filmmakers and storytellers are also using it to engage and entertain potential customers who can then purchase the complete experience.
2. Attention spans
The growing trend for companies is to limit commercials to less than 30 seconds. Ideally, the best way to reach customers is to create a six- to eight-second video that plays completely before such sites as YouTube allows watchers to skip the commercial. Doing so provides companies the ability to reach customers with a complete message that does not allow short attention spans to disrupt the message.
In fact, brief content is also on the rise for many online publishers facing the acronym of TLDR, which translates into “too long didn’t read.” Companies want to reach customers via video; the challenge is to hook viewers with engagingly brief videos. People who eschew this trend might end up spending a lot of money producing content that is too long that viewers will never watch.
When it comes to AI, chatbots are the upcoming personalities that will help answer customer questions and engage in actual conversations. Imbued with the increasingly powerful ability to understand language, they also can accomplish the following.
- offer impromptu answers
- anticipate a customer’s related needs
Moreover, digital chatbots are available as 24/7 avatars as coaches, counselors, and friends in certain industries.
The day of one-size-for-all products and services has been waning for a long time, but as 2021 approaches, a company’s ability to customize a product is becoming critical. Everyone has different needs, and digital marketing via websites that allow customers to choose and preview multiple options can positively impact a company’s ability to outcompete established players or newcomers. This trend comes in bespoke products, which are part of a wide range of industries.
- tiny homes
- home security
- phone plans
Customization works because it lets a customer know–or feel–that they truly are unique.
5. Service versus obligation
One of the best trends for customers is how a company is actually dedicated to serving customers rather than helping them due to some obligation. For instance, Amazon is the one company that has championed this philosophy. In fact, as a company, Amazon’s drive has always been to be the top customer-service company in existence. The products Amazon sells are almost secondary in that the company exists to serve. Such dedication to serving customers is something REI is also famous for. This trend is gaining traction by online businesses that offer lifetime warranties, 24/7 customer service, and personalized contacts via social media.
Of course, B2C marketing using in-game purchases works well for game companies. Similarly, it works for so-called in-book or in-movie purchases as well. However, companies that gamify their apps also enjoy higher returns on their advertising campaigns and are also able to convert a surprisingly high number of customers.
Some of the best types of marketing games come packaged in the form of apps.
- simple shooter games
- simple sports games
For business owners to digitally connect with consumers, it is important to understand just how powerful one’s voice can be. For instance, if you publish content online, you will reach a predictable number of people. SEO analytic software can estimate the time people will spend on your website and the number of conversions you will likely receive.
However, business owners who engage customers via podcasts, videos, and tutorials can engage a larger market segment because of how well their personalities and messages connect with listeners.
8. The power of cubicles
Small companies are now learning that employees can create niche websites and YouTube channels that connect with specific market segments. Basically, these channels allow a company to crowdsource marketing by having current employees reach out to customers from their cubicles.
In fact, within any department, the interests of employees often overlap with a company’s products, allowing niche channels to serve as reality marketing. In addition to tapping into the interests and connections of employees, companies can be viewed as more personable in that employees–regular people–are the face of the company rather than paid actors.
9. Instant messaging
One of the best ways to reach customers is via messaging. Messaging is effective because of its ability to serve someone’s need for connection and assistance immediately. Additionally, messaging is brief and non-intrusive.
Of course, messaging can be done between phones, but it is just as popular and effective between social sites. Customers that receive instant messages via Twitter or Facebook, for example, are likely to follow up on calls to action.
In an ironic twist, the influx of digital B2C marketing campaigns has inundated consumer phones and screens to the point that certain analog and face-to-face marketing techniques are more effective than ever–as long as they are intermingled with digital calls to action.
For instance, the primary content for years has been text. However, truly successful marketing professionals have long adopted the practice of using multimedia to deliver a variety of branding and product messages to consumers who process information differently. Similarly, in-person-digital marketing seeks to connect with customers via the proverbial handshake while accompanying them home or to the office via a phone app or call to action.
This type of hybrid digital marketing that mixes real-world marketing and customer assistance alongside digital service has the ability to reach the so-called Generation Z. For instance, 38 percent of customers born after the year 2000 want immediate access to digital assistance when in-store service is inadequate. Conversely, 28 percent of this same market values in-store contact with a service representative. Therefore, companies must adopt a hybrid digital-in-person marketing approach for maximum traffic conversion for this increasingly important market.
Top 10 B2C statistics
Video streaming is replacing network television, but commercials are still ideal for companies to reach customers. In fact, 70 percent of customers stated that commercials on television or video streaming are the primary influencing factor regarding how a potential customer views a company.
2. Generation Z: the digital generation
Since 2017, Generation Z has outpaced the buying power of previous generations, such as the so-called Baby Boomers. This trend will continue to increase because this segment spends 15 hours per day online in one fashion or another.
3. Top activity
Of movies and other online entertainment, gaming is the single largest activity in which millennials engage, 66 percent playing video games.
4. Online video
If you want to reach millennials, you need brief video commercials on sites like YouTube. In fact, of the 80,000,000 millennials, 77 percent of them regularly watch online videos. This translates into 67,760,000 regular viewers across all business industries.
Throughout 2021 and beyond, the pandemic is predicted to serve as a critical component for B2C marketers. In fact, in 2019, teleconferencing customers topped out at 10,000,000. By 2021, this number is projected to reach just over 300,000,000.
The e-commerce industry is projected to reach trillions. Specifically, it will reach $6,400,000,000,000.
Although messaging is on the rise, e-mail newsletters remain effective marketing tools for older customers. In fact, when it comes to reaching older markets, the newsletter is the top performer in terms of ROI compared to social media, organic traffic, and search conversion.
Implementing a personalized e-mail marketing campaign is difficult, but it has a success rate of engaging 62 percent of recipients once it is in place.
Throughout 2021, the gamification marketing industry will grow to a projected size of $40,000,000,000 within the next few years.
Messaging is slated to increase by 40 percent by 2021 as it is one of the best ways to serve customers throughout the pandemic.