The unprecedented pandemic that hit the world in 2020 brought about profound changes in many facets of our lives. The way we buy and sell is an element of our lives that has changed dramatically this year – forever. However, it is not just the end consumers whose purchasing decisions are affected by the pandemic. If you are a company that sells its products or services to other companies, you know how B2B marketing trends will play out for 2021 and you will see the setback in this turning point year. As conventional outbound marketing takes a back seat, a stronger acceleration towards a predominantly digital sales and marketing strategy can be seen, which would be reflected in the trends in digital marketing for 2021. There was a need to achieve better differentiation and segmentation of product offerings through effective content marketing, account-based marketing, and useful market research that together will reinvigorate marketing trends for 2021. Automation and an increased role for artificial intelligence are other important elements that will be central to shaping effective B2B marketing trends in the future.
To be fair, B2B marketing was already on an evolutionary path in that direction even before the pandemic accelerated change. In the last ten years, B2B sales have increasingly gained new dimensions and developed from simple product sales to an overarching agenda that includes telling an exciting story, achieving the right positioning, differentiation in the market, customer loyalty and tailor-made strategies. In no way are these elements new or experimental. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped accelerate mainstreaming in organizations’s B2B strategies.
On the way to a new calendar, here are some B2B marketing strategies that can help you generate more currency in 2021.
Digital First Policy
Digital marketing has already grown in importance in recent years, and companies have increasingly allocated significant budgets to this aspect. In the past year, however, the digital medium has played a pioneering role in all marketing strategies. A CMO survey conducted in the USA in mid-2020 found that marketing strategists were not only shifting their strategies to focus on digital opportunities, but that customers were also actively looking for new digital offerings and placing more value on digital experiences.
We are therefore looking at an improved strategy for digitally centric business marketing that will apply to both the B2B and B2C sectors through 2021. Going forward, there will be a major shift towards enhancing the digital experience through incorporating video content, webinars, content marketing, and social media engagement. Essentially, this will lead to greater specialization of the domains within the digital marketing spectrum and a greater role for dedicated specialists in the field.
Account-based marketing will be key
While traditional outbound marketing strategies, including trade shows, cold calling, and advertising, help reach large numbers of potential customers, marketers are increasingly realizing that these strategies can convert few leads into buyers. Customer expectations have evolved over time, and more personalization and customization of marketing strategies is essential to be able to convert the leads. In short, instead of targeting all prospects without paying attention to their individual needs, marketers these days need to know individual customers and tailor their outreach strategies to their needs and expectations. This is what account-based marketing is all about – research and segregate your customers and only market your product to those who matter by developing a focused growth strategy.
A 2019 study of B2B marketers found that 71% of companies that invested in account-based marketing saw a higher ROI compared to traditional marketing strategies. No wonder ABM is becoming the preferred marketing strategy for B2B companies.
Video content continues to prevail
Video content continues to play a key role in shaping customer opinions and decisions. Otherwise, why should companies spend a fortune creating great TV ads? However, the role of video content is not limited to B2C sales strategies. There is increasing evidence that effectively created video content that creates an appealing story through visual elements also has a lasting impact on B2B customers. In a 2018 study by LinkedIn in the UK and Ireland, 62% of B2B marketers rated video content as their preferred choice, beating it over other formats like email and infographics.
Increasing demand for dedicated content marketing specialists
Gone are the days when marketing interns and newbies were hired to create and distribute content. Developing an effective content marketing strategy is critical to a successful B2B marketing program today. This trend results in a greater demand for dedicated and experienced content marketing specialists.
Make no mistake, content marketing isn’t just about sending out bulk emails and updating social media posts that offer insights into your products. Content marketing is now a specialized domain that includes effective market research, a deep understanding of your customers, and the ability to develop innovative campaigns with far-reaching effects. In the future we will experience a significantly increasing demand for committed content marketing specialists.
The increasing role of AI
Similar to any other area, artificial intelligence will continue to make progress in B2B marketing. AI is used to automate a number of tasks, including engaging visitors through chatbots, creating data-driven content, and expanding your content outreach strategy. However, when analyzing data, it is expected that AI will play the most important role. Understanding the vast amounts of data that companies have at their disposal can help them put their customers in perspective and make better decisions that suit their needs. This increase is likely to continue.
With the New Year approaching, the uncertainty of the pandemic will continue to surround us, although as the above trends develop, we hope for continued growth and recovery on the way to the new normal. The introduction of digital transformation in 2021 will change the business landscape in the post-pandemic period and turn the tide in favor of B2B marketers. Overall, 2021 will be the year companies have to invest in developing a full digital omnichannel presence.