What B2B digital marketing trends could affect your company in the coming years?
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses must adapt their strategies to remain relevant in the marketplace.
According to Forrester Research, digital transformation has become the new normal, and the pace of change is accelerating. The shift towards digitization has caused many industries to transform into digital ecosystems; however, there remains a lot of room for growth.
The good news is that there are several digital marketing trends that are already taking hold and will continue to grow in throughout the next decade. By understanding what these trends look like now, you can plan ahead and prepare yourself for the future.
Below, I’ve highlighted B2B digital marketing trends that are here to stay in the years ahead.
Permanent social media posts for the win- always!
Think of permanent social media posts as ever green contents. It lasts longer. It’s a content that keeps giving.
Permanent social media content is better than ephemeral social media content because the permanent social media content is exactly that: permanent.
What are ephemeral posts?
Ephemeral posts are temporary messages, example short video content, posted on social media platforms. These posts disappear after 24 hours, so they are only visible to people who follow the account.
Because many marketers recognized the value of permanent social media posts, per Kelly Hendrickson of HubSpot, nearly half of global marketers they surveyed will increase spending on permanent content while 37% of plan on decreasing their budget on these flitting contents.
Why should you care?
If you’re not using more permanent social media content, then you’re missing out on one of the best opportunities to connect with your audience.
Users that visit the post more than once can see the content whenever they want to and are more likely to engage.
In the end, you need to decide what works best for your company when crafting your content marketing plan or when running an advertising campaign.
I recommend playing with both ephemeral and permanent social media formats. Use ephemeral content as a short-term messaging tool, while permanent content should be used as part of your brand’s long-term content marketing strategy.
Use ephemeral content if you want to send a message to your followers quickly. Use permanent social media content if you want to build relationships with your followers over time.
Personalized data-based strategy for an ever-evolving customer journey
The B2B buying journey is defined by the actions a B2B buyer persona takes in order to achieve a business goal.
Most times, this buying journey begins with an interaction with a company.
B2B businesses need to understand how to leverage data to engage the business customers throughout their entire journey to drive the bottom line in all areas of the organization.
This includes understanding what data exists pertaining to the business user experience, how they can use that data when making informed marketing decisions, and how they can use that information to provide meaningful interactions with the business audience. This includes the creation of personalized content for B2B marketing channels.
How do B2B businesses create a data-driven marketing strategy?
There are three key steps to designing a human-first data marketing strategy for your business audience:
Step 1: Understand the customer journey
Step 2: Identify the data sources available
Step 3: Build a data-informed marketing strategy
1. Understanding the Customer Journey
A successful business branding strategy starts with understanding the customer’s journey. This means taking a holistic view of the customer’s path from awareness to purchase. It also requires knowing what type of data is available to help guide your B2B marketing efforts.
2. Identifying Data Sources
Once you know the customer journey, it’s time to identify the different data available to you. These include behavioral data, demographic data, transaction data and search engine data via search queries like Google.
3. Building a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy
After identifying the data sources available, it’s now time to build a data-driven B2B marketing strategy. You’ll need to determine which data sources to focus on first and then figure out how to integrate these customer insights into your business branding strategy to reach a buyer persona.
Use data as a basis for deciding on everything – from which social channels to invest in to which ads to run.
By using data to understand the customer journey, B2B businesses can design more effective marketing and sales strategies to reach their potential buyers.
Raise the bar of your B2B online events with hybrid events
The hybrid event will become an increasing popular marketing activity.
In the past, business companies mostly concentrated on two major live events: the annual trade show and the annual sales meeting.
But 2021 has shown B2B companies that business professionals can interact with your business in a myriad of ways, whether it be through in-person event, through social media channels, or by attending hybrid virtual events.
Now, marketers must market to two audiences: the live event attendees, and the customers who can’t or will not attend live events.
Thus, instead of creating traditional events, B2B marketers are focusing on hybrid events that combine online content with live in-person elements.
The age of the consumer has made event marketing a more nuanced and complicated endeavor. This means marketers need to use all available channels to reach potential customers.
The key is to create hybrid events that appeal to both sides of the consumer spectrum.
With hybrid events, B2B companies can reach customers through multiple channels – both offline and online. They can use different content, such as videos or images, to engage audiences.
B2B companies’ marketing team will have to create events that appeal to both live event attendees and customers who do not want to venture out. This is the new normal.
Cross-departmental thinking still not a thing
The trend of marketing departments not being aligned with sales departments reflects a deeper ongoing trend in business–the trend towards silos and away from cross-departmental thinking.
Marketing and sales need to communicate with one another to ensure that both departments are creating the best results possible with their campaigns – for the company and customers.
When they are working close together, campaigns are far more successful in reaching their targets and generating the results that were desired in the first place!
The ability to think holistically is a key factor in the success of any business.
Marketing and sales departments need to work together to ensure that their goals align. Without this alignment, there is no way to achieve true business efficiency.
Social responsibility in company’s DNA for responsible consumers
A perfect storm of opportunities is occurring right now for strengthening diversity and inclusion in organizations.
With the current state of things, consumers want companies to be transparent about their business practices. So, consider the inclusion of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) in your business plan.
The four benefits of social responsibility are many and include:
- Increased Brand Awareness–Buyers appreciate when a company is socially conscious. They feel good knowing that they can trust the company to act responsibly and ethically. This will help build consumer loyalty and trust.
- Improved Customer Experience–When a company takes steps to improve the lives of others, it creates a positive impression among customers. It also makes them feel better about themselves because they know that they too can help people.
- Improved Reputation–When a company acts responsibly, it builds goodwill within its community. People see the company as a leader in the field, and they respect the company for taking care of its employees, clients, partners, suppliers and the community.
- More Business Opportunities–Companies who embrace social responsibility often find that they receive more business opportunities than those who don’t. Social responsibility is a great way to position yourself as a trustworthy organization.
Increased competition and pressure from shareholders, including your customers, have driven this shift in priorities.
As a result, many companies will rethink their corporate culture and promote greater diversity and inclusion.
We are living at a time when technology is advancing at warp speed. We are also seeing increased awareness about issues related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and other factors that may affect people’s lives.
Growing reliance on zero-party and first party data without the cookie
In the past, companies would collect data from consumers via cookies, but now that those are going away, it means that advertisers will have to find alternative ways to target audiences.
The dawning of a cookie-free world could pose an enormous challenge for marketers.
This is where zero party and first party data will gain momentum.
Zero-party data (ZPD) has been around for a while. In brief, it’s data that is offered directly by the consumer to a brand; it is information that customers voluntarily share to a company.
They can choose whether to take part in surveys, games, or other forms of interactions. With ZPD, you know exactly who your customers are and what they want.
For instance, if someone shares contact information with you, but also adds a comment about wanting to be contacted by email, then that is zero-party data.
First party data refers to data collected directly from the consumer, not sent to you by a third-party. First-party data is used in the context of personalization. It can be used to serve up a more customized experience for the consumer when visiting a website or app. This includes things like survey responses, social media posts, and other feedback mechanisms.
LinkedIn, for example, offers its B2B companies their accurate first party data through targeting using the LinkedIn ads.
The rise of zero-party and first-party data as a replacement for cookies means companies will have to adapt to this change. It may mean that companies will have to rethink their strategies and focus more on user engagement.
Increased business automation using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
The world of technology has been evolving at breakneck speed for the last 10 years or so. Artificial intelligence is one of the most disruptive technologies of our generation.
Per Accenture, 7% to 10% of business tasks will be automated in 2025. That will translate to productivity savings for companies.
By leveraging artificial intelligence, brands can automate processes, streamline workflows, and improve customer service.
So, what does all this mean for your business?
Well, imagine being able to automate 90% of your daily tasks so that you can spend more time growing your business and less time doing mundane tasks.
Here are five key points to consider when thinking about how to incorporate AI and ML into your digital marketing strategy:
1. Use AI/ML to automate repetitive tasks
2. Leverage AI/ML to create personalized customer experiences
3. Improve customer service through chatbots
4. Create content that engages your audience
5. Optimize your marketing investments
So, the most important thing you should consider is whether your current systems can be automated.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to ask yourself how much time would be saved. Can your team use those hours to increase revenue?
If you’re looking to get started with AI and ML, start small and work your way up. Start with something simple, such as automating repetitive tasks, and build from there.
Social Commerce is here to stay
It seems obvious now, but social commerce was once a niche idea. Now, however, it’s becoming mainstream.
Social commerce is a type of ecommerce business model that relies heavily on social networks for both sales and marketing.
Just because you are a B2B company doesn’t mean you can’t engage in social commerce!
During the pandemic, many companies have shifted their budget from traditional advertising methods to using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. to promote their products and services.
These businesses leverage social networking platforms to connect with potential customers and provide them with easy access to products and services.
So why is social commerce growing?
There are several reasons.
First, it allows brands to reach new audiences interested in their products and services.
Second, it provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising.
Third, it gives consumers control over where their information goes.
Fourth, it helps brands build trust among consumers.
And finally, it makes it easier for them to interact with their customers.
This shift toward social commerce isn’t just happening in the United States; it’s also taking place around the world.
Use social media platforms to promote your brand, and answer questions.
In addition, you can use social channels to generate leads by posting blogs, videos, or articles related to your product or service.
In order to succeed in the digital age, you must embrace the changes that are coming. The good news is that technology is making those changes easier than ever before.
The best thing you can do right now is learn more about social commerce. It’s not only going to help you grow your business, it’ll also give you insight into how other companies have been successful.
With the uncertainty brought about by the “new normal,” one thing remains constant — the need for marketers to adapt quickly to changing consumer behaviors.
Value selling will never be more important for the sales-fatigued B2B customer
Do you know how many ads an average American is exposed to every single day?
According to marketing experts, it is up to 10,000. And most people don’t even notice them!
That’s a lot of exposure.
But the truth is that most people don’t pay attention to any of these ads. They simply scroll past them without giving them much thought.
So, how do you compete against all these distractions?
The answer: value selling.
Why value selling works so well
Value selling offers solutions. It answers questions and solves problems.
People want to buy from companies they feel connected to. So if you offer something valuable, they’re more likely to choose you.
How does this work? Let me explain…
When someone visits your website, they usually have a specific problem in mind. For example, maybe they want to find out more about your company, or they want to solve a problem.
They may ask themselves, “What is my pain point?”
Or, “What am I looking for?”
If you can identify what problem they are trying to solve, you can create content that addresses their needs directly.
For example, let’s say you sell software. You could write an article that explains why your software is better than others on the market. Or you could write a blog post that shows how your software can improve productivity at work.
These types of posts are called value propositions. They provide real benefits to your audience.
And once you’ve identified your target customer’s problem, you can start creating content that provides a solution. This type of content includes case studies, testimonials, reviews, and anything else that helps your prospects understand how your products or services benefit them.
This way, you can keep building trust and credibility as you continue to provide value.
At the end of the day, it’s all about helping your prospects see things from your perspective. That means providing information that aligns with their interests and goals.
So, the next time you’re planning your next marketing campaign, make sure you focus on delivering value first.
Marketing is becoming less about sinking sizeable sums of money into ads, and more about having a strong customer base through value selling.
By offering real value, you can increase conversions and boost your bottom line. That’s because value selling puts you at the center of your audience’s decision-making process.
This is the way forward for any B2B company looking to stay relevant to a sales-fatigued audience.
Stronger human connection via word-of-mouth marketing
Word of mouth has always played a huge role in our lives.
It is everywhere.
We rely on recommendations from friends, family, and trusted sources to determine if something is worth buying.
Social media is one of the biggest drivers of word-of-mouth today. As a result, you can leverage social media to get your message heard.
Here are three ways you can use social media to create positive word of mouth:
1) Share engaging content that helps others
When someone shares content that they find helpful, it creates a ripple effect throughout their network.
When they post links to helpful resources, they are essentially telling their followers that they found this information valuable.
This type of sharing builds trust between you and your audience.
And, when people feel connected to you, they are more likely to buy from you. If not, recommend you. So a strategic content strategy is absolutely necessary.
2) Create a community around your business
It may seem counterintuitive, but creating a community around your B2B company can actually drive sales.
By encouraging interaction among your customers, you build relationships with them. In turn, they become advocates for your products and services.
3) Use B2B micro-influencers to promote your company
Micro-influencers have been gaining popularity over the last few years.
Micro-influencers typically have 10,000 followers or fewer, so the reach of each of their posts is relatively low.
Most often, their audience comprises other individuals relevant to their category.
They often share blog post and other quality B2B content related to their niche, which makes them great influencers. But, they also are highly engaged and active users themselves.
So because of their higher level of engagement, the potential for conversions is higher, and compared to bigger influencers with millions of followers, the cost per post is significantly cheaper.
By promoting your brand through micro-influencers, you can reach new groups of potential buyers. In fact, according to Experticity, “micro–influencers have up to 22.2 times more “buying conversations” that include product recommendations.”
As we head towards 2022, the most successful businesses will continue to prioritize human connection above all else using social media marketing. Whether you have built a strong reputation as an expert in your field, or if you’re just starting out, focus on developing authentic connections with your target audience.
Paying attention to how your business interacts with your audience online can help you develop a strategic plan to grow your business.
Keep your business relevant in 2022 and beyond!
As we head towards the 2022 and beyond, it’s important to keep your eyes open and spot how the digital landscape, including the social media channels, is evolving.
It is imperative for businesses to keep pace with their competitors by investing in quality digital marketing strategies backed by strong and consistent data analytics to maximize ROI.
Action like these will give you a leg up in your own marketing tactics, enabling you to provide loyal customers and target audience with the service they are looking for going into the future.