B2B Versus B2C Content Marketing [Research]

Content Marketing: Is There a Difference Between B2B & B2C

Fueling social media growth and search optimization, content marketing is on a growth trajectory. Many marketers think content marketing is either B2B or B2C but as Heather Meza of Cisco pointed out:

Content marketing isn’t B2C or B2B, it’s P2P.”  Tweet This

Take a look at some of the significant elements of content marketing strategies B2B and B2C marketers use and you’ll find their approaches are strikingly similar. That’s why it makes sense to think of content marketing as people-to-people.

5 Points of content marketing comparison

Here are five salient points that emerged from the results of the 2013 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. (Please note that there were two separate research studies, one for B2B and one for B2C.)

Content marketing use

More than four out of five marketers use content marketing. Specifically, the breakout is 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers. Despite the five-percentage point difference, it’s a well established element of most marketing plans. (In case you need help, here’s how to make the case for content marketing.)

Both B2B and B2C marketers use an average of twelve content marketing tactics. Where they diverge is in how the number of tactics is distributed. 

Content marketing format use

Top on both B2B and B2C marketers lists of favorite content marketing formats are social media (excluding blogs), articles on own website and enewsletters. Further they’re used in the same order!

Below the top three formats, B2B and B2C diverge slightly in terms of order. Next on their lists are blogs, video, in-person events and articles on third party websites. In this next tier, B2B marketers use case studies and white papers while B2C marketers use mobile content and mobile apps. This reflects the difference in how their target customers shop. B2B marketers need to reach decision makers, influencers and senior executives while B2C marketers need to reach consumers when they’re making their purchasing decisions.

(Here’s full description of each of these content marketing formats with tips on how to use them.)

Content marketing distributed on social media

Both B2B and B2C marketers use social media as a distribution channel for their content marketing. Both types of marketers use the top six social media platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Where they differ is in the proportion that uses each platform and the hierarchy of use.

While it’s no surprise that LinkedIn is at the top of the list for B2B marketers, they haven’t yet figured out the power of Slideshare as a B2B goldmine. B2B marketers’ use of Pinterest is interesting and may signal the next growth phase of the platform beyond its initial target users. (Here’s a how to social media guide for B2B content marketers.)

It’s useful to note that over half of B2C marketers use LinkedIn. It’s important to understand that the professional network is important for positioning your firm to attract and keep employees as well as other business connections such as sales, suppliers and distributors.

Content Marketing Institute - MarketingProfs Research - Social media

Content marketing challenges

All marketers are challenged to create a sufficient amount of content marketing as well as content that’s engaging. This is no surprise given that we spend almost half our days consuming content. Further, a significant portion of that time is on social media where interaction is expected.

The difference between B2B and B2C marketers is that B2B marketers are more concerned with the amount of content (64%) and B2C marketers are more concerned with the size of their budget (52%). Part of the challenge for B2C marketers with regard to budget is twofold: shifting how they use their money and showing that it drives sales. 

Content marketing spend

In terms of marketing budgets, over half of both B2B and B2C marketers are increasing their content marketing spend. Interestingly, their budgets show similar dynamics. Underlying these findings is the fact that both B2B and B2C marketers need content marketing to feed their social media and search strategies.

B2B companies spend slightly more of their marketing budgets on content marketing than B2C companies, 33% versus 27%. While it makes sense that B2B marketers spend more on content marketing, what’s surprising is that B2B marketers don’t dedicate a significantly larger portion of their budget to content marketing because they’ve historically used content marketing in the form of live events, white papers and articles. Further, B2C marketers have traditionally relied on advertising and promotion, more expensive formats, to drive sales. 

Interestingly, micro-size B2B marketers dedicate more of their budget to content marketing than their B2C counterparts. This also makes sense because B2C marketing initiatives, regardless of size, still require some level of promotion and advertising. By contrast, large B2C companies use more content marketing than their B2B counterparts.


While the target audience and how they purchase are significantly different for B2B and B2C marketers, their use of content marketing is relatively similar in approach. There are people at the other end of your marketing regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C business. Your content needs to be P2P because your audience is human.

Do you think that there’s a significant difference between how B2B marketers and B2C marketers approach content marketing? If so, what do you see as the salient differences and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kellbailey/1486379810/

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