The last 10 years have been a whirlwind of transformation for all industries, especially those in B2B marketing. Today, B2B buyers are making at least 10 online searches before engaging with a website, digital experiences are now a priority in marketing budgets worldwide, the B2B funnel is longer than ever before, and ROI from inbound marketing is expected to continue to grow exponentially.
While traditional methods like word-of-mouth still reign among the tried and true techniques for successful B2B marketing, an ever-expanding digital landscape has opened new doors for experimentation. It’s time to buckle up and get ready for the next decade of B2B marketing with these 5 tips for success.
1. High-quality content marketing
Today, just putting out content doesn’t cut it anymore and what worked miracles even 3 years ago will be ineffective in the 2020s (if it’s not already). Nonetheless, content marketing remains an essential aspect for marketers to achieve success, and while many people associate content creation more with B2C industries, it’s becoming just as important for B2B. In fact, today 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to reach buyers.
The results from content marketing are real – and that’s why everyone from your great aunt to your pet parrot is in on it. Unfortunately, the last decade’s focus on “just putting something out there” means there’s no shortage of content for your potential customers to get bogged down with. To put the situation into perspective, about 300 hours of video are uploaded every single minute to YouTube alone – so you can imagine how hard it is to be heard.
However, there’s a bright side: most of the content today is low quality and provides little value to most B2B buyers. That means if you can create something that resonates specifically for your audience, creates community and/or teaches them something, then you can break through the sludge and get sales.
In the 2020s, it’s less about quantity and more about quality when it comes to content marketing. Buyers want less garbage and more interesting, memorable and valuable information. In the coming years, B2B content marketing will need to become more strategic, value-driven and niche to realize results.
So how can you up your B2B content marketing game? We’ve gathered some trends and tips you should take into consideration when planning your content for 2020:
- Facebook or YouTube video is essential, with 70% of B2B buyers watching videos during the purchase path
- Other forms of video like webinars and live streams are becoming popular ways to inform and connect with your audience
- High-quality images, relevant GIFs and detailed infographics are key to making content more shareable
- Written content is important too! Long-form, well-research, and insightful content in blogs, articles, and e-books are valuable
- Whitepapers are especially effective in B2B with 79% of buyers sharing them with their professional networks
2. Meaningful data analysis
Just because you can access the data, doesn’t mean you should. The 2020s will have a “less is more” mentality when it comes to how B2B marketers use data. The last decade was all about gathering as much data as possible—if you could track it, you did. However, every day, new platforms allow for increased information access, leaving marketers with infinite streams of data about...well, everything. By gathering (often meaningless) data just for the sake of it, marketers end up with cluttered systems, wasted time and less focus on important trends. Technology isn’t slowing down any time soon, and neither is the surplus of data to be gathered, which is why it’s time to start thinking smarter about data.
The data you gather to be a successful B2B marketer should be accurate, agile and actionable. Smart data needs to be precise and have a specific purpose – avoid hoarding information because it’s there and instead gather it based on your organization’s key goals. Furthermore, the data needs to be adaptable and flexible – in the 2020s the business environment will be changing faster and you need to keep up. Finally, the data needs to drive scalable actions. Information that’s just lying around is useless, and definitely not smart – make sure your data processes are action and growth-oriented.
3. Personalized communications
It’s not breaking news in the world of B2C that personalization is an important factor in the modern marketing world – but it’s especially important for B2B industries today. B2B buyers now have the same expectations as consumers when it comes to personalization. In fact, 72% of B2B buyers want to get communications from a business that are highly personalized and specific to their desires. Furthermore, B2B industries are generally highly competitive and buyers have a slew of similar options, making switching quite easy when their needs aren’t met.
So how do you not only attract but retain customers in B2B environments? Ongoing, authentic and personalized communications (even post-purchase) is the answer! Traditionally, B2B sales and marketing have been a lot staler than B2C – often forgetting that a buyer is also a human being. However, research shows that’s all changing in the 2020s: while 84% of consumers say being treated like a person and not a number is key to winning their business, a whopping 83% of B2B buyers feel the same. Evidently, as B2B buyer behaviours begin to align more with that of regular consumers, it’s no doubt marketers who focus on personalization will drive better results.
Take these tips into consideration to personalize your B2B communications:
- Focus all communications on solving your B2B buyers’ specific business problems
- Personalizing call to actions, specifically in copy of websites and emails to address your audience’s needs
- Utilize targeted ads on social media like Facebook (which has very robust and detailed targeting capabilities)
- Applying account-based marketing techniques to hyper-target buyers
- Using marketing automation to cut time on personalized messaging
4. Strategic email marketing
Email marketing has long been a tried and true method for reaching marketing goals and communicating effectively with consumers across all industries. However, like content creation, the email marketing landscape is heavily cluttered today, which makes getting noticed and engaged with difficult. In 2017 alone, 269 billion emails were sent and received each day – and this number is expected to reach over 330 billion in 2020.
However, just because inboxes are being spammed left-right-and-center doesn’t mean B2B marketers should drop email marketing altogether. It’s estimated that by 2022 the number of email users globally will grow to 4.3 billion so there’s no shortage of audiences to target. Furthermore, email marketing has a high ROI – for every $1 spent, companies can expect an average of $32 in return. Everything from send times to subject lines matter in email marketing today, so the more strategic, focused, and value driven emails are, the higher your open rates and conversions will be.
So, what does it take to create a successful B2B marketing campaign in the upcoming decade? Check out these trends and tips to find out:
- Triggered emails report at 50% higher open rate than any other type
- Personalization is a key component of email content
- Clear and concise content with one define CTA is most effective
- Email design matters - Make sure your emails are branded, consistent and unique,
- Open rates are higher for mobile by 40% than desktop so mobile-friendly designs are important
- Incentives are crucial for engagement on things like email surveys or referrals
5. Robust search engine optimization
For years, marketers have struggled to keep up with Google’s search engine algorithm, which changes 500-600 times per year. As B2B marketers, we’re no stranger to pouring both time and resources into getting ranked well on the SERP, only to be hit hard by a sneaky algorithm tweak. The last few years in SEO have focused a lot of keywords to gain authority and a good spot on Google but that’s changing.
Strategic B2B marketers will be finding ways to grow and rank regardless of the algorithm. Look out for these upcoming trends:
- Voice search usage is growing exponentially – 50% of today’s searches are by voice
- Focus on key questions instead of keywords to rank in Google Snippets
- High quality, interactive visitor experiences on websites are extremely important for retention
Rapid technological advancement and booming adoption of digital media have almost completely changed the landscape that B2B marketers now operate in. Anticipating trends is a key component for getting ahead of the pack and innovating strategically during the upcoming decade. B2B marketers who focus resources effectively and pivot strategies fast will be the ones reaping rewards in the coming years - get ready!