B2B Marketing Trends have witnessed a significant change over the past few years. Remember the days when marketing was focused on sales and involved a lot of cold calls? Well, that’s not the case anymore. In the present era, marketers are more focused on digital marketing and search engine optimization.
The chaos of the pandemic introduced several unknown variables in the equation. The dynamic arena of B2B Digital Marketing had to evolve and adapt to the changing situation. Marketers had to strategize to find ways to connect with their audience, position their product in the right manner, differentiate it from their competitors, and so on.
We are stepping into a new day and age. As the world tries to recuperate from the repercussions of the pandemic, the year is witnessing new trends in B2B Marketing. Conventional marketing strategies are taking a backseat, and the market is undergoing a drastic shift.
Where are B2B Companies investing?
According to McKinsey, B2B Marketers view digital engagement and marketing as two to three times more important as compared to traditional marketing techniques.
The marketers have been increasingly investing in search engine optimization to increase their website traffic and drive conversion rates. A well-planned SEO strategy is essential to increase visibility and ensure that customers find what they are looking for.
The B2B marketing trend is witnessing another investment strategy. An increasing number of marketers are focusing on enhancing brand credibility with the help of influencer marketing. According to TopRank Marketing, 63% of B2B marketers believe that influencers will improve their marketing strategies.
Leading B2B companies are also investing in Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Blockchain, and Augmented Reality as part of their digital transformation strategy. This has given a significant boost to self-serve marketing, where customers are able to make a purchase decision with minimum human interaction.
What are the challenges and opportunities they face?
The changing times have brought with it a plethora of challenges as well as opportunities for the B2B industry.
B2B marketers are struggling to maintain, let alone increase their marketing budget. It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand the customers’ short-term needs in the changing environment and strategize for the long-term post-crisis world.
Defining KPIs and proving the ROI for the marketing strategies is also extremely challenging due to the number of touchpoints and variables present in marketing. B2B brands are finding it difficult to maintain a distinguished brand identity due to the industry’s highly competitive nature.
Generating high-quality leads in the current scenario is also not an easy task. Building personal relationships with the customers to facilitate effective communication has also been difficult.
Producing sufficient and quality content has also been one of the biggest challenges being faced by B2B marketers. Marketers are trying to repurpose content to increase their reach and get more value from their marketing budget.
The B2B landscape has become crowded as well as highly competitive. Marketers have to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and devise an optimum marketing strategy tailored to their requirements.
Let’s take a look at the B2B Marketing Trends of 2021.
Although Account-Based Marketing has been around since 2017, it is increasingly gaining prominence today. According to Terminus, ABM has been at the top of the priority list for almost 46% of the B2B marketers.
ABM can be described as a process of strategic targeting of prospects using personalized campaigns and content. The objective of ABM is to focus company resources on a smaller number of accounts that have the potential to generate a high return on investment.
When businesses are striving to find new ways to boost revenue, ABM is allowing them to build profitable relationships with specific accounts that are highly valuable.
Using the practice of ABM, companies are now being able to divide their resources in the best possible way across the complete length of the marketing funnel. They are facilitating stronger engagement with potential and current customers and earning high ROI from fewer clients.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, an increase of a mere 5% in customer retention in a company can result in a 95% increase in its profitability.
Retention Marketing is a school of marketing that focuses on engagement with existing customers. With the current year adversely hitting the budgets of most companies, focusing on keeping the current customers happy has become extremely important.
The concept of retention marketing has been around for a very long time. It helps maintain and improve relationships with customers. Not only does it increase the duration of time a particular customer buys from the company, but it also increases how much they are buying. This is also referred to as upselling and cross-selling.
Although companies are continuing their efforts of broadening their customer base, retention marketing is becoming the go-to solution to boost revenue figures.
So, you must be wondering. What can you do to retain the existing customers? A few tips and strategies include constant customer communication, effective customer support, customer appreciation, surveys and testimonials, and so on.
Video Marketing and Augmented Reality
Any strategy list for marketing will be incomplete without the mention of video content and augmented reality. According to the Content Marketing Institute, more than 70% of the B2B marketers prefer video marketing over other strategies. In addition, Wyzowl found out that almost 95% of marketers plan to maintain or increase their spend on video marketing.
Videos are regarded as one of the most interactive, attractive, and engaging forms of communication with customers. In addition, they provide all the relevant information to the customers in a matter of minutes. Clearly, you would prefer to watch a video as opposed to scrolling through a long article on the product.
Companies often convert case studies into interactive videos to connect with the audience. This has the tendency to leave a long-lasting impression on them.
With everyone confined to their homes for safety reasons, video marketing has become even more important and relevant today. Videos have become the perfect avenue for an escape.
The addition of augmented reality has taken video marketing to a whole new level. This becomes more useful if your company has a physical product they want to display and highlight or a facility they want to tour.
Voice Search or Voice Marketing is also another popular trend of today. When voice search came into the picture, it served a limited purpose. It was mostly used for creating notes and grocery lists.
However, voice search increasingly gained momentum and is now used for almost everything. From playing one’s favorite songs to finding the directions to your destination, the potential of voice search is unlimited.
According to Statista, 5 billion people will be using a digital assistant by 2021. This trend has also become significant due to the boost given by Alexa and Google Home. Hence, it is clear by B2B marketers cannot afford to ignore the importance of voice marketing.
Marketers prefer voice search as a tool because it provides them with more information and data on their consumers, their preferences, and their needs. Hence, if you haven’t ventured into voice marketing, the time to start is right now.
The question is, how? Here are a few things to keep in mind with respect to voice search. They are often sentence-based. As a result, you have to ensure that your search engine optimization strategy includes long-tailed keywords too. This will increase the visibility of your content and drive more traffic to your website.
Podcasts and Webinars
With more and more people working from home, B2B marketers focus on interactive virtual events like webinars to reach their audience. Live Streamed events and conferences are being made available on-demand to the customers.
Webinars help in building brand awareness, increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, and closing deals. They play a huge role in inspiring an individual’s transition from a stranger to an advocate for the brand.
B2B marketers can rely on webinars to support them through each stage of a buyer’s journey. From awareness, consideration, decision-making to after-sales processes, webinars can add value everywhere. According to the ClickMeeting report on webinars, almost 77% of B2B companies consider webinars to be part of their marketing mix.
In a similar manner, podcasts work very well for B2B marketing. A podcast is an online audio broadcast. It is easier to consume and very informative. Podcast Insights estimated that there are currently around 850,000 active podcasts.
It has been seen that companies that have their own podcasts form a deeper and long-lasting connection with their customers and listeners. This medium of marketing can be used to target auditory audiences who are generally on the move.
Although eventually, physical events will return, they will now have a new added digital dimension. These hybrid event models will be the new trend in the coming years.
Artificial Intelligence has already started making inroads into the arena of B2B marketing. AI and Machine Learning can help companies process a large amount of data and deliver personalized and customized buying experiences to customers.
B2B marketers have already started planning and implementing AI in their marketing strategy. Chatbots are the most common example. With customers expecting instant replies to their queries and access to 24X7 customer support, more and more companies have opted for chatbots for the purpose of communication.
The chatbots have been programmed to imitate human interaction. They help the customers navigate throughout the website of the company and choose the right product.
Chatbots also allow employees to engage in more productive work. The State of Service Survey by Salesforce found that 64% of the companies with chatbots reported that they were able to spend their time engaging in complex problems.
In addition to chatbots, where can you deploy Artificial Intelligence? It is also used in content marketing. AI will scan your website, organize and categorize your content, and help you deliver and provide the right pages, offers, emails, posts, etc., to the buyers with every interaction.
AI also assists companies in expanding their reach by finding new audiences similar to their present customers. It can be used to segment customers and find receptive audiences for certain campaigns.
Customer Experience Focus
The importance of customer experience in any marketing process is unparalleled. The strategy formulated by any company has to be customer-centric. This has become more relevant in the present time.
The goal is to tailor the customer experience to meet the requirements of specific clients. In order to accomplish this, you have to develop valuable insights into each and every business that is your client.
Personalized experiences help add value for the customer as well as the company. Companies can also make use of interactive and informative elements such as polls, games surveys, breakout sessions, and so on. This will capture the attention of the clients and improve engagement.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that a majority of the B2B clients are millennials. These customer experience expectations have been ingrained into their life. As a result, the focus on experience is very important.
This trend calls for attention to detail. Even minute observations like poor interface on mobile websites and apps, difficulty locating information online about a specific product of the company, lack of positive referrals, etc., can have negative consequences.
Even though the year is bringing new trends to the B2B marketplace, social channels have continued to evolve and remain extremely important.
Let’s take the example of LinkedIn. With more than 706 million members spread across more than 200 countries, this platform is one of the top destinations for B2B marketing. It has almost replaced in-person events during this past year. It also comes equipped with a live streaming facility to enable you to speak to your customers directly.
Social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, are helping companies create brand awareness, educate their audiences, and build credibility and trust.
The key is to focus on a particular objective and highlight what separates you from your competitors.
The past year has seen a lot of chaos and loss. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 shows that almost 65% of customers preferred brands that reflected and showcased their values.
A significant percentage of customers were also ready to switch brands if their existing choice of the company did not align or match with their values. Customers are becoming increasingly aware and conscious of their surroundings.
They have started emphasizing what a company stands for, and supports and expectations have increased. As a result, B2B companies cannot limit themselves to marketing tactics. Their positioning on current social issues is becoming increasingly relevant. It has started factoring into the customer’s purchase decision.
In conclusion, these are the emerging B2B Marketing trends of 2021. Technology has worked wonders, and B2B strategies have to constantly evolve according to the changing times. Before you apply or adapt these trends, make sure you do your own research and see what’s best suited for your business.
You can take pointers from all the given trends and develop your own state-of-the-art marketing plan! Learn more about how you can use digital marketing to grow your business.
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