The B2B marketing landscape looks very different than it did at the beginning of last year. COVID-19 has caused marketers operating primarily in the B2B (business-to-business) sector to make quick adjustments and rework their marketing strategies. The pandemic has accelerated digital trends and brought them to the forefront in a very short time, pushing marketers all over the world, to find better and faster ways.
Let’s take a look at five trends that B2B marketers will have to face in the coming year (and perhaps beyond).
1. DIGITAL ACCELERATION
Since live events have not been possible, marketers have opted for virtual events, videos and digital marketing channels to connect with potential customers. More than ever, terms previously only used by industry professionals and enthusiasts are now on everyone's lips: email marketing, blogs, webinars, video courses, and more. According to a recent study, 85% of marketers observed an openness of customers to new digital offerings during the pandemic and 84% placed a higher value on digital experiences. Even digital 'dinosaurs' have changed their perspective. Whereas once digital strategies made up just one part of an overall strategy, B2B marketers now need to embrace more than one strategy and channel to remain competitive and relevant.
2. THE IMPORTANCE CONTENT MARKETING
With digital acceleration, content marketing is also becoming increasingly important, as existing and customers and potential customers are consuming more and more digital content. What content do people prefer online? According to a recent research by statista.com in August 2020 that 27.2% of people watch more than 10 hours of online video content per week. Short and informative videos are the most successful. However, videos, are not the only option. Webinars replaced live events during the pandemic. In addition, there has been substantial growth in the average number of podcasts, reaching six hours and 39 minutes per week, according to statistics from Edison Research. Infographics, quizzes, polls and other interactive content can help your brand stand out and the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) can also give you a big boost. Obviously, writing still plays an important role, so continue to use email, write blog articles and regularly upload content to social media. As the amount of content increases, more attention needs to be paid to SEO and SEM, especially in three key areas:
Semantic research: research that focuses on the meaning of search queries rather than simply matching keywords.
Search intent: the main objective of a search query.
Voice search: the use of a voice command for a search query.
3. MARKETING BASED ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND AUTOMATION
Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and marketing automation tools help marketing teams do more and better in less time, saving on budget and staff. A.I. can greatly help in segmenting and finding the right target audience, profiling better leads, predictive analytics and even content generation. Various studies have stated that the global market for A.I. (artificial intelligence) software will grow by 54% year on year, reaching about EUR 22.6 billion by 2022. We will see more and more organisations using A.I. and automation in order not to be left behind and by competitors.
4. CUSTOMER CENTRIC MARKETING BUILDS CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS
COVID-19 has forced many marketing professionals to emphasise more comprehensive and "all inclusive" marketing strategies and tools rather than focusing on simple lead generation. The typical entrepreneur took advantage of the quarantine period to get informed and study, starting his evolution towards digital and mastering topics such as e-commerce, sales funnels, etc. Marketers also focused on retaining current customers rather than trying to acquire new ones. Retention or ‘loyalty’ marketing has played a key role in keeping current customers engaged and building a deeper and longer- lasting relationship with them. Producing content for your customers, having dedicated customer service and making customers feel understood by creating a more empathetic and friendly relationship can help your business retain customers for much longer periods. People love to feel pampered and understood, even more these days! 5. NICHE-BASED MARKETING
Rather than launching a wide range of services targeting entire sectors, marketers are focusing their efforts on a few key customers from a specific niche with the same needs. This allows them to identify the common problem, find better and customised solutions, and increase the conversion rate. Last year, however, loyalty marketing (as mentioned above) became more important. If you choose to focus on a niche marketing, you can further retain your customers, creating a unique and indispensable ecosystem. Success in such a business requires not only an alignment between sales and marketing, but an integration and a committed effort to be there for customers in difficult times and to provide answers and solutions that are personalised and tailored to them. B2B marketers must embrace change. The year 2020 has seen many B2B marketers operating in B2B change their strategies. Skills allow them to change and modify their approach when necessary, however marketers should always be analysing data and seeing how and what they can improve, what is working well. and what can be abandoned. As marketers, we must not be afraid of change!