2020 was one of the strangest times in recent history due to the pandemic. It slowed the world’s economy and forced businesses into a state of change. However, some companies remained resilient, hoping 2021 will have a positive impact on their businesses.
Fortunately, with the world racing over vaccine manufacturing this year, it could prove to be an upswing. Marketers and experts are more optimistic about companies adopting new strategies and innovating to navigate the world under the new normal.
Here are some of the B2B marketing trends for 2021:
Digital disturbances are not so annoying – Just a few years ago, digital disruption was the buzzword as companies struggle to keep up with technological changes to fend off an unstoppable force. Marketers have already put in place tactics and modalities to slow down the negative effects of digital disruption. The challenges they faced equipped them with the right tools to be better prepared for the adoption of new technologies and get immediate results.
Artificial intelligence takes the front seat – Artificial intelligence and machine learning would lead the way in digital marketing efforts. With new technologies appearing every month, marketers now have plenty of options to improve their B2B campaigns. However, for some businesses it can also be a slippery slope. The sophistication of technology makes it harder to distinguish people from bots today. It would be helpful if you worked with specialists to make sure you involve people, rather than AI. This way, your records are less obscured by artificial noise and you can create a more robust marketing campaign to better position yourself for success. If you haven’t invited your marketing manager to the table yet, now is the best time. Your contributions to higher engagement based on business insights are invaluable in helping your business grow.
Less over-reliance on automation With that in mind, companies are seriously reviewing their B2B automation as the pandemic has exposed its inherent weakness. The efficiency will be dramatically improved, but it will take some time to set up. Even a simple automation process isn’t as simple as it sounds. Companies also found that being over-reliant on automation would backfire as they are slow to recognize sudden market changes. For example, companies have been flooded with complaints about the delivery of services and those complaints are relayed to the AI systems. Before last year, people were more patient with dealing with these hiccups. But the cabin fever caused by the pandemic made them more restless, and they’ll likely call the company for lack of empathy. Of course, don’t forget your B2B automation efforts. However, you will need to do a regular SWOT analysis to determine if you are under-using the technology or not and if you are getting the relative value for it.
Content marketing remains relevant – Quarantine measures and lockout protocols have, among other things, provided companies with a new design for conducting their business using work-at-home methods. Hence, digital marketing efforts, especially quality and authentic content, are more important than ever. Marketers predict an acceleration in investments in companies’ digital endeavors as they rely on 2020 momentum. Some companies may argue that people are already suffering from content fatigue, but the answer is not to cut back on their investments. The answer is to be more careful about where you spend your resources and ensure the variety of content. For example, according to Cisco, the Internet of Things will play an even more important role not just this year but through 2023. In the next three years, home solutions will make up 48% of the M2M share. It means spending time on business intelligence and data analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t started your content marketing campaign yet, it is not too late to develop some short term and long term strategies as you move on to a digital first philosophy.
Conservative budget spending – The pandemic has shown how things can quickly bring a company to a standstill from 100 to 0. On the one hand, companies reduce their B2C marketing budgets by waiting. B2B efforts should take this trend into account. Assess how this will affect your business in the long term. Companies that are cutting back on their marketing spend will struggle to regain their momentum considering it takes time for marketing investments to bear fruit. In the meantime, organizations that have stayed resilient and pushed their spending will have faster turnarounds.
Voice search is getting stronger than ever – According to Google, 2 out of 10 searches on the platform are now carried out using voice commands. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans have an AI speaker at home, while more than 5 in 10 people have used voice search to find a local business. Voice search is currently still closely linked to mobile use. Smartphone users typically use voice AI on their phones to search for recommendations. As the algorithm becomes more precise, companies will use it more and more often for their solutions. When starting your content marketing strategy, don’t forget the importance of voice search to increase B2B traffic and sales for your business. For example, when searching for text, the average length of keywords is three. Meanwhile, voice searches are characterized by long-tailed keywords, which are usually seven words or more.
Corporate culture is more important – How organizations deal with the pandemic and the changing corporate landscapes will provide them with a blueprint for further development. For example, they have recognized that work-at-home systems are even more beneficial to their companies as they reduce overhead costs without affecting employee productivity. The corporate culture will also make a significant contribution to the expansion plans. Their best practices tend to attract top talent to work with the organization. In the meantime, B2B efforts become easier as other companies can quickly see product quality and are more likely to commit to success. Even if the virus miraculously goes away, things will never go back to normal. The good news is that companies now have a working prototype that they can implement and modify according to their needs.
Cut the middleman – The lockdown measures have severely affected the value chain. In the traditional model, suppliers work with retailers and logistics companies to provide services and products to end users. As a rule, manufacturers only deal directly with their larger customers. B2B customers prefer to deal with suppliers rather than a third-party supplier anyway, as they know where to channel their complaints and easily track their products. For example, try building your ecommerce website instead of relying on Amazon to deliver your service. It may take some time to see ROI, but this approach is more sustainable for your business in the long run. Of course, it is not recommended to disconnect from Amazon immediately. The e-commerce giant is still vital to your sales for the time being as you are still collecting data intelligence, controlling your message and attracting new customers.
Omni-channel approach – The omnichannel strategy helps you reach a diverse B2B audience. The data supports the effectiveness of the use of the various pipelines to expand your footprint. As a result, no matter where you look, you’ll be there. You can increase your leads by opening up opportunities for channels that weren’t on your radar. Another benefit of the strategy is that you can finally answer the tricky question: which channel is perfect for your B2B marketing efforts?
More commitment to existing customers – The pandemic illustrates the importance of customer loyalty. In the meantime, since buyers tend to be conservative about their spending habits, they avoid experimenting and stick to what works. Reward your loyal customers, especially during this time when you need to count your blessings. For one thing, it is more expensive to find new leads than trying to keep your existing customer base. According to the Harvard Business Review, a company can increase profits from 25% to 95% by increasing customer retention rates by five percent. Your loyal customers have been there to support you as you struggle to keep things afloat. The least you can do is make them feel valued.
These are the B2B marketing trends to watch out for in 2021. Hopefully, they will help you develop an actionable strategy to survive what lies ahead for another challenging year. Because movement is restricted, customers tend to be more demanding and critical about the type of online service they expect. They will no longer tolerate mishaps for beginners as it will be easier for them to switch loyalties with the plethora of choices. When sketching your game plan, focus on the buyer’s experience to ensure a personalized customer journey across multiple platforms and channels.
This post originally appeared on 2pinz.
Author: David Libby
David Libby is a public relations and social media marketing consultant at 2pinz. He has over 24 years of experience in public relations and over 12 years in social media marketing in various industries including cybersecurity, network security, data security, data management, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, air pollution, water … Show complete profile >