Published: 17 May 2016

In the office last week the question of B2B versus B2C came up. The question was whether you need to do things differently when communication with a B2B audience to what you might do when targeting a B2C audience.

By and large, the answer we came up with was ‘No, not really’. B2B audiences are still, fundamentally, audiences and so the approach to predictive personalisation and effective marketing communications are the same as any other audience. What differs are the messages themselves as the B2B audience is more diverse and has a wider emotional range.

B2C and B2B Audience Types

Take your average B2C holiday buyer, you only have to look at travel, tour operator and airline sites to see that B2C holiday buyers are engaged by aspirational images and videos, solid deals and easy to understand prices and then anything that taps into their emotional state and needs - the location, climate, attractions etc. However, the key point is that the focus is on the customer, the experience and to a certain extent, the price.

In summary, you could say that with B2C there are the following customer types:

  • The User, who is likely to be the buyer and be funding the purchase

  • Other stakeholders, family members and friends who show an interest or might be directly affected by the purchase or, are possibly contributing to the purchase

Whilst the B2C example is simplified, the point is that B2B customers have a wider emotional range. This is because there are a number of different types of B2B buyer:

  • The User - not necessarily the the buyer or the person who’s money it is

  • The Buyer - sometimes the user but often the purse holder or a purchasing department

  • The Money - the person who is funding the purchase, either a budget holder or an owner manager, whose money it actually is

  • Other Stakeholders - line managers of The User or The Buyer or The Money and other team members who are interested or affected by the Purchase

B2B Audiences, Needs and Interests

The key difference from this audience type analysis is that with B2B there are a wider range of needs and interests exhibited by each audience type.

For example, let’s say we have a Marketing Manager who is interested in buying Sitecore as the new Content Management System and Digital Marketing Platform, so that they can improve their digital offering through profiling, personalisation and automated marketing.







Value Proposition






The User: A Marketing Manager in a B2B business



To know the product features and benefits, the potential value for the business and ROI



Marketing leading CMS and DMS with a range of bleeding edge features to give



Sitecore Customer Experience Platform (CXP) with Email Experience Manager (EXM)



The Buyer: The Purchasing Department



To know the price, warranties and payment options



Good value, best deal and simple purchase process



Sitecore CXP with EXM



The Money: The Marketing Director whose budget will pay for it



To know the features, terms, payment options and ROI



This is the best product for the best value



Sitecore CXP with EXM



Other Stakeholders: The IT Department



The impact on the business and any services that are needed to support it



Simple to install, standard technolgies, first and second line support



Sitecore CXP with EXM





We can see from this example that the Offering, i.e. the product, is the same for all audiences but the Needs and Value Proposition is different for each audience type and is also more diverse, in terms of the informational needs.

B2B Personalisation Strategies

Consequently, the personalisation strategy that a brand needs to adopt needs to recognise and understand the different audiences and their needs is key to enabling and facilitating the B2B sales process.

There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved and the following is an overview of a successful approach that we have implemented for a client with both B2B and B2C customers.

Personalisation: B2B or B2C

First of all we needed to identify B2B and B2C customers. Consequently, a site map was created with specific content, silo’ed into defined sections of the digital platform in order to be able to identify different audience types.

Visitors who visit B2B focused pages and consume more technical data are segmented into the B2B bucket.

Also, Goals were categorised, using Goal facets, so that those that completed key interactions (i.e. goals) could be profiled and segmented into the B2B audience.

Further Dynamic Segmentation: B2B Audience Types

Once we have visitors in the B2B segment we then use further dynamic segmentation to further sub-group into the different types of B2B audiences applicable to this client using either Role in the Business (e.g. the User, the Buyer or The Money) or by looking at key customer types within this sector.

By doing this, we have then been able to implement dynamic segments within our marketing lists of users by B2B or B2C and then by the sub-groups within these top level audience types.

This allows to then personalise the digital experience to meet the informational and emotional needs of each audience type. In a basic example, this includes showing payment options, terms and value messages to those that pay the bills, whilst promoting features, benefits and ROI messages to the user and their line managers.

Effort and Value Considerations (PIE)

In addition to the audience needs and engagement plan it’s always worth factoring effort and value into your personalisation strategies. When planning a content framework and messaging strategy for a key audience consider, the cost of implementation - the costs of things like content production, sales processes, video/photography. WEigh this up against the potential value from the segment. Where the value outweighs the effort then you have a solid case for personalisation.

In Sitecore terms, we call this P.I.E - Potential, Impact and Ease. When you can define an audience that has real potential and you can easily identify them and present them with good content and calls to action, then the audience meets the PIE test and they should be considered within you implementation plan.


For clients that have diverse audiences, that make engagement and buying decisions for very different reasons, implementing a platform that allows for dynamic segmentation and personalisation is key.

Many clients have the desire and the understanding that they need to be able to talk to each key audience type differently but don’t have the technology to be able to deliver on this effectively and the irony is that the technology is the easy bit!

Once you have the capability to deliver personalised messages, based on earned and learned visitor data, then the key to success is implementing a personalisation program that reflects the way in which you capture data - building up profiles and implementing audience sub-groupings through an on-going process of engagement and experience. This then allows you to personalise the experience and progress your visitors through your optimum user experience, focusing your visitors on your set outcomes and objectives.


Nick Towers

Managing Director


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