The COVID-19 pandemic compelled B2B marketers to make numerous changes and rethink their strategies and processes. Thus, the B2B marketing landscape looks different now than it did at the beginning of last year. Some trends accelerated and moved to the forefront because of the pandemic, while others were viewed differently by marketers.
With that in mind, let us look at five trends that B2B marketers should be aware of in the coming year, and perhaps beyond.
The Rise of Digital - According to the CMO Survey (June 2020), 85 percent of marketers surveyed, observed customer openness to new digital offerings during the pandemic, and 84 percent placed a higher value on digital experiences. In the absence of in-person events, marketers turned to virtual events, videos, and digital marketing channels to connect with customers. E-mails, blogs, webinars, and other forms of online content have now become more popular than ever.
While digital tactics were previously only a component of a larger strategy, B2B marketers must now embrace a more digital-first approach to remain relevant and competitive.
The Significance of Content Marketing - As customers and prospects consume more digital content, content marketing is becoming increasingly important. What kind of content is eliciting a response?
According to Statista, in August 2020, 27.2 percent of global viewers watched more than 10-hours of online videos per week. Short, informative videos can make a powerful and concise point.
Videos, however, are not the only option. We live in an era where quality content has become the rule rather than an exception for businesses, and content marketing enables them to produce and deliver the information audiences require. During the pandemic, webinars have taken the place of live events. Infographics, quizzes, surveys, and other interactive content can help your brand stand out, and using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) can immerse your audience in your brand.
However, the written word also remains important in B2B marketing, as B2B marketers communicate via email or publish thought leadership and blogs. With an increase in the production of online content, more investment and emphasis must be placed on SEO and SEM, particularly in three key areas:
• Semantic Search - A search engine that focuses on the meaning of search queries rather than just keyword matching.
• Search Intent – A search query's primary goal.
• Voice Search – Using a voice command to search.
Statista states that the global AI software market will see about 54 percent growth year after year. Eventually, it will reach approximately $22.6 billion, with widespread adoption across the business world.
More and more organizations will come to utilize AI and automation rather than be left behind by their competition.
Artificial Intelligence-Powered Marketing and Marketing Automation - AI, ML, and marketing automation tools, enable marketing teams to do more with less, save money and broaden their reach. It can be a key in targeting, segmentation, personalization, lead scoring, predictive analytics, and even content generation.
According to Statista, the global artificial intelligence market is expected to generate US$ 327.5 billion in revenue by 2021. The Indian AI market too will see phenomenal growth and is currently valued at $6.4 billion. Owing to these growing numbers, businesses are expected to revolutionize their marketing strategy, with the use of AI and automation.
Customer-Centric Marketing Fosters Customer Relationships - COVID-19 compelled many marketers to prioritize providing customers with useful information and solutions than simply generating leads. Their outreach efforts and approach to the customer experience were motivated by empathy. Marketers also concentrated on retaining current customers rather than acquiring new ones. Retention marketing was critical in keeping current customers engaged and in developing a deeper and more lasting relationship with them.
Indian businesses have gradually realized that customer-centricity results in a long-term profitable relationship with their customers, which has a significant positive impact on profit margins. Knowing that companies have made fundamental changes to their strategies to focus on the needs and desires of their customers to maximize satisfaction in all aspects. Online retailers have recognized the importance of customer focus and have aligned their business models, particularly logistics and services, to meet the needs of their customers. It recognized the last mile access problem that its customers were experiencing and decided to develop small commercial carriers known as ACE to address the issue of access to deep interiors.
Personalization and relevant content demonstrate that marketers understand their customers, their pain points, and the challenges they face. It can build on an existing business relationship, as account-based marketing (ABM) does.
Account-based Marketing is Becoming More Popular - Account-based marketing is a focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams collaborate to target and convert best-fit accounts into customers. Rather than casting a wide net and focusing on an entire industry, ABM professionals concentrate their marketing and sales efforts on a few key accounts. It enables more personalization and event personalization in marketing, which can lead to more conversions.
However, according to a 2019 research by Terminus, 23 percent of their respondents did not have an active ABM program. By 2020, that figure dropped to 5.8 percent.
ABM gained prominence last year, with retention marketing becoming a higher priority for businesses. Since ABM focuses solely on a few key accounts, marketers and salespeople can concentrate on improving their relationships with those accounts. Success in such a venture necessitates not only alignment between sales and marketing, but also an integrated and committed effort to be there for customers during difficult times and provide personalized and tailored solutions.
B2B Marketers must Adopt Change
Many B2B marketers pivoted and changed their strategies in 2020. Their agility enabled them to shift and fine-tune their approach as needed. However, B2B marketers should always be looking at their analytics to see where else they can improve, what is working, and what can be dropped.
A/B and multivariate testing can help them determine which content works with the audiences and which does not, which channels they prefer, and which offers, and information pique their interest. These insights can help marketers tweak their customer strategy.
Furthermore, a B2B marketer can always improve and strive to connect with customers more effectively, provided they use the data they have to get to know their audience better.