You’d be surprised by how often I get asked, “B2B vs B2C, can I be in both, or do I need different websites for my B2B and B2C customers?”
It’s a decision many business owners grapple with. While there are some benefits to having more than one website, in most cases, a single website is ideal.
To help you reach the best decision for your business, I thought I’d provide a little clarity. But first, let’s review the definition of B2B and B2C.
What is B2B?
B2B is short for business-to-business. These are companies that deal directly with and sell to other businesses. While they may invest in marketing their products or services, they don’t sell directly to consumers.
For example, a publishing company sells books directly to retailers, such as bookstores. And farmers sell their produce to wholesale supermarkets or restaurants.
The benefit of the B2B model is you can sell a greater amount of products to a broader audience, but you will have to reduce your price.
What is B2C?
B2C is short for business-to-consumer. These are businesses that sell products and services directly to customers—for example, an e-commerce store, restaurant, or business coach.
Using the farmer as an example. They might choose to sell their produce directly to consumers. In this case, they’d probably set up a stall at a farmers market.
The benefit of the B2C model is you can charge a higher price for your product or services. But it does require you to invest more time.
So why is this relevant to your website? Perhaps, you want to target your products and services to both B2B and B2C customers.
Can you do that with a single website?
Can a website be B2B and B2C?
Absolutely. There’s no reason why you can’t serve both B2B and B2C customers from the same website. Lots of companies do.
While Apple has a range of phones, laptops, watches, a movie studio, and streaming services, everything is housed under the Apple brand and accessible via the iStore. But you can also purchase these products through retailers.
Johnson & Johnson also serves a B2B and B2C market. They sell soaps, bandages, baby lotions and wipes, creams, and more directly to the medical industry (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies) and to consumers via retailers. Yet, it’s all housed under one brand and one website.
The same applies to Procter & Gamble.
So YES! You can sell to a B2B and a B2C market, but… YOU NEED TWO MARKETING MESSAGES.
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Why do B2B and B2C markets need different marketing messages?
Because using the same message won’t work. It won’t connect with your audience because wholesalers and consumers are motivated by different things.
For example, consumers are motivated by the result the product or services promises. So many of their decisions are based on emotions.
- Can they afford it?
- Do they need it?
- Is it going to positively impact their life?
- Will that new Garmin sports watch improve their race time?
- Are they going to attract more clients and retain them longer by investing in your business course?
You want your marketing message to tap into those fears, hopes, and dreams, and you can do that with emotional direct response copy.
But the wholesaler is motivated by a product that will move off shelves quickly and make them a good profit margin. They only care about numbers.
So your sales team needs to be clear on which marketing message to use and how to deliver that message.
B2B vs B2C: Why don't you need multiple websites?
Now, as a small business owner, there are several reasons why having more than one website would be a bad idea.
1. It’s double the work.
First, having two websites creates a lot of unnecessary work for your team. It’s two sites to design, maintain, update, and optimize for search engines (SEO).
If you’re a startup, small business owner, or solopreneur, chances are you can’t afford to outsource the management of your website. So you handle it yourself, or you’ve delegated it to a team member. And unless they have a background in digital marketing, managing your website probably takes them twice as long as a skilled marketer.
Adding another website would eat up time you don’t have. So keep it simple and focus on creating one quality site for your customers.
2. It’s double the content.
Before you think, I’ll just duplicate content to save time, here’s why that’s a bad idea.
Search engines don’t like duplicate content. It creates a poor user experience and can result in Google penalizing you. This affects your domain ranking and, eventually, your bottom line.
If you’re going to create a separate B2C and B2B website, you need to craft unique content for each target customer. That takes time.
It requires a dedicated content writer—someone to research keywords, write blog posts, and upload them to your site. But again, we’re back to double the work, which leads me to my next point. Read my top writing tips here.
3. It’s double the cost.
Adding another site means purchasing a new domain, creating a new design, crafting unique copy, optimizing each web page for SEO. And that all costs money. You probably don’t have a substantial marketing budget, so you want to be smart about where you invest your money.
4. It’s double the confusion.
And lastly, creating two sites can be confusing for customers, especially if both sites target similar keywords.
Say your B2C customer accidentally visits your B2B site. They might waste time looking for the product or service they need. And because they can’t find it, they become frustrated and leave.
But they genuinely want help, so they search for your direct competitor. Their site is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Within moments, your would-be customer has all the information they need to make an informed decision. The result: they purchase the product and you’re out of luck.
So those are four reasons why you don’t need a separate B2B and B2C website.
Here’s what I suggest instead.
Don’t waste time, energy, and money creating separate websites. Instead, use landing pages, a survey, or a selector tool to segment your audience when arriving to your site. This way, you can funnel your prospective customers to relevant information.
For example, a hospital might add a pop up with the options “I am a Doctor” and “I am a Patient.” Can you do something similar?
You can also use PPC ads, Google Adwords, or Facebook Ads to drive your customers to specific pages instead of your home page. Your B2B customers might never know you also serve the B2C market.
And by housing all of this information on one site, you can use Google Analytics to track which web pages perform best, where there’s room for improvement, and which marketing messages resonate most with your customers.
You might learn that B2B outperforms B2C, or perhaps they’re evenly split. But it’s far easier to review your marketing numbers when they are all nicely packaged in one place.
So is there ever a time when you’d need two completely separate websites? Yes.
When would you have separate B2B and B2C websites?
If you’re selling or adding a completely unrelated line of products or services, then I’d advise building a separate website.
For example, let’s say you currently sell insurance. Over the years, you and your team developed a piece of software that helps you streamline the quoting and claims process, and you now see an opportunity to sell this software to other insurance companies.
That’s when you’d use a different website to market that software to the insurance industry.
Is your website set up for maximum sales and customer retention?
Now that you know the pros and cons of having one website dedicated to your customer base, can you save costs and combine your B2B and B2C sites?
What about giving customers the option to self-select and segment themselves upon arriving at your website?
And if you’ve purchased multiple URLs, you could just add a 301 redirect to your site. Google interprets this as a permanent move, and it won’t affect your domain ranking.
Take things one step at a time. Create a project board and identify the tasks you need to complete. Then assign them according to priority. All that’s left to do is action each item.
The beauty about the digital world is it will still be there tomorrow.