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B2C marketing: A guide for marketers

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B2C marketing: A guide for marketers

Business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing continues to evolve rapidly to keep up with shifting consumer behaviors and trends driven by our digitized world. 

B2C marketers must understand the impact 24/7 internet access has on how and why consumers buy what they do – and provide relevant, personalized content and experiences with which their customers want to engage. 

This article will explain B2C marketing and touch on B2C marketing strategies, challenges facing marketers, and trends for 2023 and beyond. We’ll also take a look at the ecommerce giant Amazon, one of the titans of B2C digital marketing, and what made it an industry leader. 

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What is B2C marketing?

B2C marketing is a strategy by which a business sells its products and services directly to the end consumer, rather than to other businesses. Retail storefronts, ecommerce companies and even online streaming platforms such as Netflix all accomplish their sales via B2C transactions. 

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing, on the other hand, refers to the marketing of goods and services to other businesses. B2B sales cycles tend to be longer (companies making software purchases, for example, will do extensive due diligence before investing in a product). Whereas, B2C transactions are often instantaneous or close to it.

Dig deeper: Why we care about B2B marketing: A guide for marketers   

While both B2C and B2B campaigns sell products and services, successful B2C marketing campaigns seek to trigger and capitalize on both consumer impulses to buy and the emotional response their products elicit. This means as a marketer, you must be able to anticipate your consumers’ needs — and be able to deliver them before they realize what they want. 

Luckily, in today’s digital world, there’s a plethora of data that B2C marketers can tap into to accomplish this very objective and mount successful campaigns by:

  • Meticulously tracking and analyzing consumer spending.
  • Understanding how consumers interact with sponsored posts on social media and which links they follow.
  • Tracking what they ultimately end up buying.

Note: Direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing is a strategy within B2C marketing. It involves selling directly to the consumer, thus bypassing retailers, wholesalers or marketplaces.


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B2C digital marketing strategies

Content marketing is among the most important and effective B2C digital marketing strategies today. Defined as marketing focused on creating and distributing online content (i.e., blog posts, articles, videos, etc.), content marketing is used to attract and engage an audience that will purchase the content generator’s products. 

YouTube, for example, provides a platform for marketers to create video content that drives consumers to online retailers. The pet product retailer Chewy, for instance, creates YouTube videos called Chewtorials that combine practical information with product tie-ins. 

One of the most valuable channels for tactical content marketing is social media, with the objective to use social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even LinkedIn to push content. 

Have you seen a sponsored Instagram reel promoting a specific brand of tomato sauce or outdoor gear? Or perhaps a post from a brand linking back to its online store? Then you’ve seen social media marketing

One trend we’re seeing is the continued rise of influencer marketing, where brands use individuals with large social media followings to promote their products. But one of the most successful social media marketing tactics involves sharing where brands create content that their existing users are compelled to share with their own networks. 

To get customers to share content, besides including buttons/icons on websites, blogs or emails, you must understand your audience and what they value. And don’t forget, tapping into emotional engagement works. 

Email marketing is another foundational — and extremely successful — B2C strategy. Its ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent, which outperforms virtually any other digital channel. 

Marketers can use email in any number of ways, but the key lies in delivering relevant, personalized information. If you don’t know what your customer’s preferences are, you won’t be able to deliver email content that drives purchases. 

A word about Amazon

No discussion about B2C marketing would be complete without mentioning Amazon, the world’s largest ecommerce site, with 300 million active customer accounts and close to 2 million selling partners across the world. 

Amazon is not only a leader in marketing itself but in providing marketing support and platforms through which its sellers market their own shops and products. 

Close to 30% of Amazon shoppers complete their purchases in under three minutes, while half finish in less than 15 minutes. That’s because shoppers are given exactly what they want — and Amazon learns what that is by understanding browsing and buying history.

Amazon rakes in an enormous amount of data (who their customers are, how old they are, what they buy and when, and so on), using analytics to deliver customized shopping experiences that translate into sales.

Amazon also pioneered the use of peer reviews and ratings, which have been shown to impact consumer behavior.

But its Prime membership program sets the ecommerce benchmark for establishing and maintaining relationships with consumers. The program:

  • Incentivizes shopping on Amazon.com through free shipping and returns.
  • Provides instant access to music, books, and other media for an annual fee. 

To compete with Prime Day, Amazon’s heavily marketed sale event that’s available only to Prime members, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and even Nordstrom have rolled out their own online events. The takeaway? Membership programs compel consumers to make more online purchases.       

B2C marketers must be nothing but nimble. Challenge number one is being able to adjust to ever-changing customer behavior. More than ever, customers expect polished, high-caliber engagements tailored to their shopping habits – but they also expect those to be delivered briefly. 

Create a YouTube video that’s too long or content that doesn’t get right to the point, and the customer won’t watch or read. Understanding that attention spans are getting ever shorter will be a challenge for B2C marketers. 

Marketers must also be able to stay abreast of changing markets that are packed to the gills with competitors – all of which are vying for your customer’s attention. An obvious tactic would be to monitor what the competition is doing by using software or products that analyze website traffic, keywords, and so on. 

But perhaps the most important trend is the continued use of data analytics in digital marketing strategies. Marketers must harness the power of data to understand how their customers behave online. 

And while customer data and information on how marketing campaigns perform can be enormously helpful to marketers, staying on top of it, not to mention making sense of it through analytics, is a huge challenge. 

Done correctly, data analysis helps you improve B2C marketing strategies by learning about and understanding customer behavior. 

The B2C marketing stack

B2C marketers are under pressure to perform. The B2C marketing stack is critical in achieving good outcomes, but B2C is so various, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Most B2C marketers will need capabilities for ecommerce, content (content management systems and digital asset management), social media and a way to analyse customer data.

The digital experience platform (DXP) category features vendors who offer some or all of these solutions. Some businesses will prefer to put together their own custom stacks from individual point solutions. Recognizing this, DXPs generally offer subscriptions to solutions within their platform rather than lock businesses into the entire offering.


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Resources for leaning more about B2C

There is a wealth of information about B2C marketing available, including our own ongoing coverage of B2C and D2C brands like Apple Rose, Cherry Bombe, David’s Bridal, Lucchese and Paul&Shark. Here’s a selection of additional resources:

B2C Marketing: A regularly updated blog from the independent analyst firm Forrester.

Marketers’ Guide to B2C Brand Strategy: An overview of the topic from independent analyst firm Gartner.

The Adobe blog: Adobe is a vendor of marketing technology, of course, but it processes trillions of consumer data points and is a valuable source of information on consumer behavior.

B2C Content Marketing: A deep dive into perhaps the most important element of B2C marketing from agency Grow & Convert.

B2B vs B2C Marketing: 5 Differences Every Marketer Needs to Know: A closer look at the differences between the spaces from online advertising agency Wordstream.

The Ultimate Guide To Profitable B2C Marketing: Another take on strategies that work from marketing services firm ReVerb.


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

Johanna Marmon

Johanna Marmon is a writer and editor with more than 20 years’ experience covering a variety of professional services and industries, including law, for corporate, trade, and consumer audiences. Currently a marketer in the architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) space, Johanna directs the response to complex RFPs and works with business developers on capture strategy for multimillion-dollar pursuits and proposals.

A native of South Florida, she lives in upstate New York with her husband, two boys, and an unruly Wheaten terrier named Scout. She is never not on deadline.

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years. 

So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more. 

In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets. 

The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years 

From fake clicks and click flooding to bad bots and fake ad impressions, fraudsters have and will go to any lengths to siphon critical dollars from your ad budgets.

Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world. 

Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views 

In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements. 

Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites. 

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Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.

In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution. 

Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend 

In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won. 

Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic. 

The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs. 

In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding. 

Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme 

In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages. 

Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own. 

Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts 

In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.

In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all. 

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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases 

All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world. 

The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases. 

  1. No one is safe from ad fraud 

Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud. 

  1. Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods

Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud. 

Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.

  1. Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals

Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results. 

For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions. 

Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised. 

  1. You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet

As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already. 

  1. You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud  

Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence. 

  1. But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go

The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals. 


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