How to Market Your B2B/B2C Web Site

There are several ways a business can obtain new clients in today’s world of online marketing. I will explain how marketing differs on a Business to Consumer web site (B2C) compared to a Business to Business (B2B) site. If customers can trust an online business even without a physical presence, then the likelihood of success is greater.

On a B2C site, the customer is inundated with colorful flashing graphics or banners seeking to attract hits and bring traffic to the website. Often, the banner pops up in front of what the user it viewing as a distraction. Easily visible “sale” priced items are used to reel in the customer. This method of marketing is insulting to the net-surfing consumer; however, the strategy has proven to work as more and more consumers are trusting online businesses.

Over the last decade, moderate growth of the U.S. economy is attributed to reduced costs for business thru e-commerce in addition to lower interest rates. In order to attract the most diverse customers, your web site needs to be user-friendly and have traits that make navigation easier. Most websites use a similar layout that has become an industry standard. This includes a menu listing on the left side of the page, colorful graphics and a shopping cart feature in the upper right corner of a page. The easier it is for the customer to find what they need on the website, then the more likely they will make their purchase online. Word of mouth promotion also helps bring traffic into sites.

On a B2B site, marketing is used with a higher level of respect for the potential customer. Often a service is being marketed such as web-hosting or website production.

The web sites usually are rather plain, with no flashing graphics or animation. The presence of links to examples of other businesses is found most often in a B2B site. They are focused on attracting businesses to hire them for a job or to promote the great work they have done with another company.

An example of how one company markets both a B2B and a B2C site is that of a travel company called Sabre Holdings, whose business customers include travel agencies, airlines, and travel consolidators. They also sell to the public through Travelocity.com.

Via the Sabre B2B site, a travel consolidator buys blocks of hotel rooms or airline seat and combines them into a package. I worked for a travel consolidator called Classic Custom Vacations that served travel agents throughout the United States. Their mission was to offer upper crust vacations at a lower price than booking direct with each vendor.

The travel agent would offer a vacation package to their clientele that was customized and value driven. The consolidator would handle all booking of each component in the package such as the car rental or transfers from the airport to the hotel, hotel rooms, airline tickets and any tours or activities the customer desired. The customer would then receive a nice set of documents in a leather holder with the clients’ name in gold embossed lettering. The level of service is greater in this instance. It may take longer to receive the documents in the mail or from the travel agent, but the targeted clients of these travel consolidators expect this service.

On the B2B site at www.sabre.com, the potential business client sees very little on the website but a paragraph at the upper left corner describing the work done by the company and where its headquarters are located. In addition, they state they have approximately 9,000 employees in over 45 countries. Revenues of 2.1 billion are mentioned as well as the company’s stock ticker symbol TSG.

A link to the corporate site is found in the upper right hand corner of the page along with the company logo. All that remains on the page are separate subheadings with three links to branches of the company; www.travelocity.com, www.sabretravelnetwork.com and www.sabreairlines.com.

The first link for the B2C site, Travelocity, displays the statement; “The world’s most popular online travel service.” Customers are able to search for and book deals on air, cars/rail, vacations, cruises and last minute deals. They may receive their confirmation in an email immediately. The work is done by the actual consumer, unlike that of the B2B site, where the consumer may not be aware that the travel agent used a consolidator rather than booking the package components direct. The targeted customer expects speedy transactions and immediate results as they can make the decision to book space at that moment, type in their credit card number and they are finished!

The downside of Travelocity.com is that it is separated into several sections that may be confusing to the non computer savvy user because the information is scattered all over the page and is not set up in a table of contents as most B2C sites are. The client will have to read everything on the page to determine where they need to click.

The next link for Sabre Travel Network is a B2B and is described as “The world’s largest electronic network serving travel agencies, travel suppliers, corporations and government agencies.” The page is set up with a table of contents in the upper right corner with links for Travel agencies, suppliers, corporations and government agencies to click on. The page also includes sections promoting their products and services, under each mentioned type of client. There are links on the left side of the page to latest announcements for Sabre. A “careers” link is located at the bottom right corner of the page.

The final link for the branch Sabre Airline Solutions, is also a B2B and is described as “The most comprehensive set of solutions and services to optimize operations and reduce costs for airlines, airports and government agencies. The page is set up very similar to that of the Sabre Travel Network page. Again, there is very little text and graphics on the page. There are announcements on the left side of the page and a login box in the upper left corner. If a password is forgotten, the customer may click on a link to receive help. The rest of the page is divided up into the sub-headings; “delivering innovation to airlines worldwide,” which includes links to more information on services. The second heading titled, “connect with our team,” allows users to click on a link for Product Sales, Consulting services and web application access.

The two B2B websites do a good job of promoting the company’s services to potential clients as well as keeping current clients informed on current status of the company. It is a good reference point for clients to remain in contact with Sabre. The B2C site is great for users who are comfortable with booking their travel online. Each of the sites knows how to market to their clients and has done a good job of keeping the user coming back for more.

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