PUBLISHED: Oct 13, 2022

How Does Marketing Work for B2B SaaS vs B2C SaaS

Amrutha Iyengar
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Being in the SaaS industry means knowing that you are a part of a $170 billion industry!

However, if you peel away the layers of fanciness from this statistic, you know companies need to deliver a stellar product, hard work and smart strategies to survive in the industry.

Above all, you need SaaS marketing strategies that help you stay ahead of your competition, and put you on the path of uninterrupted growth — regardless of whether you cater to businesses or individual customers.

Whether you have a B2B, B2C, or hybrid business model, understanding how to market your product and brand right is important. But it is even more vital to understand the subtle nuances that both business models entail. 

For now, let’s start from the basics.

What is B2B SaaS?

SaaS products that are specifically designed to solve problems or automate processes of other companies, and offered as a subscribed service fall under the bracket of B2B SaaS.

More often than not, B2B SaaS products are aimed at decreasing and optimizing the cost of human resources for the buyer. Due to this advantage, many companies now invest in these products with the goal of automating their marketing, customer service and other processes. 

Most importantly — increasing their revenue and profitability.

What is B2C SaaS?

In contrast, B2C SaaS refers to SaaS products that are specifically designed to be offered to end consumers as a service. So, the target customers for such products and service providers are consumers who want to buy them for personal use.

B2C SaaS products are generally aimed at solving a specific problem or challenge for individual consumers; hence, the entire business model and goals are distinctly different from those designed for B2B.

Major Marketing Differences in B2B SaaS vs B2C SaaS

Now that you have an overview of what B2B SaaS and B2C SaaS products are, we shift our focus to key differences in the marketing strategies for the two business models. While it is easy for SaaS companies to blindly dive into implementing SEO strategies, you need to have a better understanding of what will work for you.

If you look beyond the SaaS part, B2B and B2C SaaS warrant completely contrarian marketing approaches in most cases. 

1. Polar Opposite Sales Cycles

First, it is important to address the fact that B2B customers and B2C customers have separate sets of expectations and parameters. Also, B2B customers are more likely to buy a SaaS product for solving business challenges, and B2C customers to satisfy their personal needs.

The process of making a purchase decision also differs significantly among B2B and B2C customers. This is because B2B SaaS customers are likely to have a longer chain for approval of a specific transaction or purchase. On the other hand, B2C SaaS customers could just as easily take an impulsive decision to click on that “Buy” button.

For example, an agency decides to implement Salesforce to automate its marketing and sales processes. The agency will need to involve multiple stakeholders such as the marketing department, purchasing department, accounting department, and even a few high-level executives to carry out the purchase.

Not to forget, B2B SaaS customer journeys are almost always driven purely by logic and reason, whereas emotions could often play a pivotal role in B2C SaaS buying decisions. With that in mind, you can easily gauge how widely different the sales cycles for the two business models could be.

2. Different Content Marketing Tactics

From a brand perspective — whether you are a B2B or B2C SaaS brand, your content marketing goal is pretty straightforward. You want to raise your brand awareness and pull your target audience towards your brand. But that’s where the similarities end.

Since B2B SaaS and B2C SaaS have an array of distinct goals, it is important for brands to deploy different kinds of content marketing tactics. B2B brands largely focus on generating qualified leads and conversion rates, and B2C brands are more focused on generating and increasing repeat purchases.

So, when you are creating a content marketing strategy for either of the business models, a simple place to start would be creating buyer personas. Once a buyer persona is created, it is easy to identify unique traits and create relevant content targeting those personas. 

Sounds simple enough, right?

It is if you are a B2B SaaS brand working with a handful of buyer personas. But for B2C marketing, be prepared to deal with a lot of buyer personas and accordingly different kinds of content.

Say, you have fitness tracking software working on a subscription model. Your target audience will mostly comprise:

  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • People who work out regularly
  • People who want to work out regularly
  • People who are trying to start working out regularly
  • People who are completely new to their fitness journeys

And so on.

Imagine the number of buyer personas you will create! 

But it is important to do so, because each of these consumers may need to be targeted with the help of different kinds of content and formats. 

3. Customer Retention Strategies

Customer retention is a top priority for companies — regardless of their business models. No exceptions here!

But while B2B companies are generally more concerned with controlling customer churn, B2C companies tend to narrow down on customer support and experience. 

Naturally, they have different approaches to going about customer retention.

While B2C SaaS companies are likely to be generous about offering discount offers and bundled deals to customers preemptively based on risk assessment, B2B SaaS companies do things differently. They are more likely to provide discounts and deals to customers at the point of cancellation.

Plus, it is important to understand that the customer lifecycles and lifetime value associated with B2B SaaS and B2C SaaS customers vary significantly. B2B companies tend to have a broader cycle spanning even months, whereas B2C companies could have lifecycles as short as a couple of days.

4. Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management requires you to develop and nurture rewarding relationships with your customers. 

B2B SaaS marketers generally take customer relationships quite seriously, because of the role it plays in lengthening customer lifecycle. You will see that B2B companies inevitably need to go out of their way to elevate the customer experience — right from product features to customer support.

While B2C SaaS marketers can benefit from this too, their primary focus is generally to establish faith among customers and nurture connections with them. B2C companies do not have to dedicate any specific resources to this endeavor. The product is at the forefront, so as long as the product delivers, the customer will stay loyal to your company.

Owing to the higher value of subscription plans, B2B SaaS marketers strive to establish long-running relationships with customers. On the other hand, B2C SaaS marketers are highly focused on engaging with their customers.

What’s more, offering freemium plans is a common way for B2B and B2C SaaS brands to build stronger relationships with customers. However, over time, B2C brands almost all the time focus on converting free plans into paid ones, and B2B brands focus on educating and retaining their customers.

5. Budgets

Don’t worry, we did not forget the money part!

Budget is after all one of the most significant points of marketing differences between B2B and B2C SaaS companies. We need to look at the differences in budgets of companies as well as the customers associated with these two business models.

Businesses usually have a certain amount of budget set aside for purchasing tools and software necessary to ensure that their processes are running smoothly. However, individual consumers may not necessarily have that kind of systematic approach to making purchases.

Considering this, B2B SaaS companies seldom trim down the pricing plans they offer and mainly focus on the value provided in each pricing plan. This helps them to establish and maintain sustainable relationships with customers. 

On the other hand, B2C SaaS companies are likely to offer free trials, and over time, attempt to make those customers pay for continued usage of the products and services.

Plus, because of the higher returns that B2B SaaS companies can attain, it makes sense for them to invest more into marketing. In comparison, B2C SaaS companies have lower customer lifetime value and thus, have comparatively lower marketing and customer acquisition budgets. There are, of course, exceptions to this pattern.

6. Growth Hacking Strategies

Product managers — basically your go-to guys for anything related to your SaaS product are called growth hackers for a reason. They conduct experiments and implement innovative strategies to broaden your customer base and increase your revenue. Talk about having an important role!

Having said that, there are several differences in the way growth hacking works for B2B and B2C SaaS companies. B2B companies are dealing with longer sales cycles, and hence require using brand marketing as a growth strategy. Meanwhile, because of the sheer volume of user data, B2C companies deal with, basing strategies on analytics works better.

The approaches that both the business models take towards growth hacking are quite different too.

B2B SaaS companies tend to experiment with the customer experience and solve their problems in the least amount of time. B2C SaaS companies, on the other hand, use growth hacking to generate higher demand for their products and market extensively on various platforms.

The platforms and tools used differ too! B2C companies generate better results from social media and affiliate marketing strategies than B2B SaaS companies. The latter can benefit more from webinars and email marketing.

Market Your Way to Success

And there you have it!

While we have covered the key marketing differences between B2B SaaS and B2C SaaS domains, know that there are many similarities too. Understanding these differences will help you choose the right marketing channels, and strategies for your business and create strategies that will work for YOU.

As you scale up, you may need an expert team of SaaS marketers by your side to guide you onto the right path — that is where we come in — let’s discuss!

Amrutha Iyengar

Amrutha Iyengar is the senior content writer and strategist at Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.

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