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 are adopting 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 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 are already connecting 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 the scale of an estate or city.
As graphic quality increases and the need for powerful desktop computers decreases, businesses are increasingly able to connect with the hearts of customers in ways that translate into immediate sales and loyal followers. Such technology is also being spearheaded by theme parks, such as Disney. However, filmmakers and storytellers are also using it to engage and entertain potential customers who can then make a purchase for 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 in a way that does not allow short attention spans to disrupt the message.
In fact, brief content is also on the rise for many online publishers who are facing the acronym of TLDR, which translates into “too long didn’t read.” For companies wanting 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 increasingly powerful ability to understand language, they also can accomplish the following.
- offer impromptu answers
- anticipate a customer’s related needs
Moreover, in certain industries, digital chatbots are available as 24/7 avatars as coaches, counselors, and friends.
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 have a positive impact on a company’s ability to outcompete established players or newcomers. This trend comes in the form of 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 he or she truly is unique.
5. Service versus obligation
One of the best trends for customers is the one in which 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, Amazon’s drive, as a company, 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 wanting 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, and SEO analytic software can estimate the time people will spend on your website and the amount of conversions you will likely receive.
However, business owners who engage customers via podcasts, videos, and tutorials are able to engage a larger segment of the market 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 segments of the market. 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 are able to 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 immediately serve someone’s need for connection and assistance. 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 also 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. For this increasingly important market, companies must adopt some type of hybrid digital-in-person marketing approach for a maximum traffic conversion.
Top 10 B2C statistics
Video streaming is replacing network television, but commercials are still the ideal way 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 in that 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, with 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 video. 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. For 2021, this number is project to reach just over 300,000,000.
The e-commerce industry is projected to reach in the 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 when compared to social media, organic traffic, and search conversion.
Implementing a personalized e-mail marketing campaign is difficult, but once it is in place, it has a success rate of engaging 62 percent of recipients.
Throughout 2021, the gamification marketing industry is projected to 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.