Author: Scott Leatherman
There are a variety of factors that go into making effective B2B marketing decisions, and getting the most out of your efforts is a challenge most marketers face.
Marketing to other businesses can be challenging. Thus, effective business-to-business (B2B) marketing is crucial for driving sales and growing your business. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, B2B companies must adapt their marketing strategies to reach their target audience online, especially in today's digital age.
In the simplest terms, B2B marketing refers to marketing products or services to other businesses and organizations, whereas B2C marketing targets consumers.
The audience is the most crucial factor any business considers when it comes to effective marketing. If you don't target your buyers appropriately, your advertisements and promotions (along with the money spent on paid ads) are wasted.
Besides a difference in target audiences, there are many other distinctions between B2B and B2C marketing, so we created a guide to make becoming a B2B expert a whole lot easier!
This guide will explain the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, identify the demands of a typical B2B buyer, show you know how to effectively use B2B marketing strategies, and convert your target audience into buyers. It will also provide you with the latest trends affecting the industry in 2023, along with some case studies and predictions for the future of B2B marketing.
Table of Contents:
- B2B vs B2C marketing: Understanding the Key Differences
- Meeting the Unique Demands of B2B Buyers
- Mastering B2B Marketing Channel Strategies
- Winning Strategies For B2B Marketing Success
- Creating Impactful and Optimized B2B Content Marketing
- Excelling at Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
- B2B Marketing Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2023
- Unlocking Insights with B2B Marketing Analytics
- Streamlining Success with B2B Marketing Automation
- Top 3 B2B Marketing Case Studies to Inspire You
- Glimpses into the Future of B2B Marketing
B2B vs B2C marketing: Understanding the Key Differences
Before we focus on the ins and outs of B2B marketing, it's essential to understand how it differs from B2C marketing. The styles, tones, and messaging of both B2B and B2C marketing are different, but their biggest difference is their target audience.
As we mentioned, B2B focuses on marketing towards a business or an organization. Think of Microsoft, Slack, FedEx, or DocuSign. These businesses are trying to solve a particular pain point of your company and by purchasing their product or service, your business operations will be significantly smoother.
For example, a sales automation software can save time and effort, while reducing the risk of human error for an account or sales department.
Unlike B2B marketing, B2C marketing is for consumers who usually buy products or services for themselves. It focuses on everyday consumers' needs and interests and can be as basic as going to the mall for some toothpaste or ordering your favorite tech gadget through Amazon.
Keeping that in mind, it’s no surprise that the sales funnel in B2B marketing takes a lot longer because of the involvement of more decision-makers in an organization. Purchasing a product or software on behalf of an entire organization isn’t as simple as ordering something from Amazon. Every decision involves multiple stakeholders, including finance, procurement, accounting, sales, and marketing departments, and ends up lengthening the customer journey process.
There is greater risk involved when a product or service must be purchased that will be used organization-wide, versus when consumers buy products for themselves. Most of the time, the entire company will be affected by this purchase so time and effort needs to be put into making it by various departments. A lot more research is conducted in the B2B consumer journey to ensure they conduct their due diligence and that the company they purchase from solves all their pain points, while simultaneously benefiting their organization as a whole.
B2B marketing also focuses more on generating awareness for a company's brand and services. It aims to educate and inform the audience on products and their benefits, and in turn helps other businesses identify your brand and convert potential customers into buyers. On top of educating potential customers about your product's benefits, B2B marketing is geared toward building relationships with other companies and organizations.
By doing so, B2B marketing allows for the development of long-term partnerships and repeat business, which can be vital for a company's growth and sustainability. It helps other businesses identify the value a company can bring to their operations and ultimately convert them into buyers.
Because their purchasing decisions tend to be more complex, B2B companies require more detailed and in-depth information and rely on longer pieces – like whitepapers – before making a purchasing decision. Short, concise content may not be nearly as effective for B2B marketing as it is for B2C.
These types of content offer value to potential buyers by providing them with trending insights related to their industry or specific business challenges. By providing content that addresses potential buyers' pain points and challenges, a business also demonstrates that it understands and can address the buyers' needs.
Meeting the Unique Demands of B2B Buyers
The way consumers buy products has changed significantly over the years as people have become accustomed to the convenience of purchasing items online. These changes have also had a direct impact on B2B models. The expectations of B2B buyers have changed from focusing on the lengthy sales process to more on the personalized customer's experience.
Keep reading to see ways to keep up with answering the demands of B2B buyers and the forever changing trends of our industry to help develop a stronger B2B marketing strategy.
Discover Where Businesses Consume Content
A study conducted by FocusVision revealed that the average B2B buyer's journey involves consuming about 13 pieces of content, including blog posts, videos, whitepapers, and analyst reports.
Their consumption doesn't stop there! The study also showed that the top sources of content for businesses are vendors' websites, social media, and web searches. Finding out where your desired audience consumes their content will allow you to target them better and promote relevant content that addresses their pain points or needs, using the platforms they prefer.
There is so much time and research dedicated to making a purchase for a B2B business that educating your audience on product specifications and features is one way to grab their attention and increases the likelihood of them reaching out to you for further information.
Delve Deep into Business Needs and Pain Points
Similar to what B2C customers experience, B2B customers have pain points. Getting rid of a pain point is a top priority for organizations and their employees. Having a deep understanding of problems that affect your customer’s operations in their business allows you to tailor your product (and the way you market to them) to suit their needs.
According to a study conducted by Deloitte, the lack of personalized experience is considered a top frustration among B2B buyers. You want your potential buyers to be satisfied, not frustrated.
Here are some common B2B customer pain points your audience might be having as well.
All businesses are looking to improve their financial situation, and if you can position your service or product as a way to do so, there will be a lot of interest.
A business can suffer from financial pain because it spends too much money on an existing product or service. Maybe a business spends a lot of money on solutions that aren’t producing good results and don’t know how to cut costs. Regardless if your product or service costs the same amount, higher or lower than existing solutions, advertise how it is worth the money by highlighting the value and benefits it brings organizations. Advertise how your product or service solves their financial pain point.
Productivity and efficiency
There are often situations where a business is spending too much time doing something that can easily be accomplished in less time, if they had the right solution. Countless organizations do tedious, manual work that takes up hours of their day like filing or organizing documents, inputting customer contact information, or scheduling calls. If your product or service can help decrease the time, effort and frustration that comes along with all these necessary-but time-consuming- tasks, your customers will forever be grateful.
Many businesses are having a hard time finding the help they need during the sales process or customer journey from your company. One of the most common cases of support pain points people experience is when they ask a supplier a question and it takes them a week or more to get a response.
To differentiate yourself from the competition, businesses must focus on providing the best support possible and streamlining their processes. Doing so will allow them to answer questions and provide information quickly, while making your customer feel like you care about them.
Deliver an Omnichannel Customer Experience
The concept of B2B marketing is simple, but the execution can be complex. The increasing number of customers demanding a better experience has prompted many B2B companies to rethink their approach to customer service. They're now more likely to retain their clients and grow their revenue by implementing an effective omnichannel strategy.
A consistent B2B omnichannel experience can help boost customer retention and increase revenue. According to a study, almost 90% of businesses that excel at providing a superior omnichannel experience retain their clients, while 75% of them would buy again if they had such capabilities.
Now that you know how important it is, what is an omnichannel approach? It’s a framework that enables businesses to provide a great customer experience across various channels. It allows customers to navigate seamlessly across different devices and channels.
One of the easiest ways to provide an omnichannel experience is by leveraging chatbots. An omnichannel chatbot is a single bot that can be deployed across different channels and devices to provide a seamless and integrated experience for customers. This means if users interact with one on your website and then use Facebook messenger later, they can easily find where they left off.
Cater to the Desire for On-Demand Experiences
According to a survey, over 70% of B2B sales professionals believe having a personalized marketing experience is crucial for a successful marketing campaign.
A customized account-based marketing strategy can help you create a better experience for your potential customers and encourage purchases. It creates an interactive experience for potential customers during the purchasing journey to help boost engagement and education, while providing value that ends up building brand loyalty.
An approach focused on building a buyer-centric framework can boost engagement by 4x, grow your pipeline by 10x, and increase customer value by 5x.
Stay Ahead by Anticipating Future Needs and Desires
Today's market is very dynamic and you must plan for the future of your business. Having the right strategy can help you avoid getting lost amongst your competitors.
With industry research reports and whitepapers available, you can stay up to date with the latest trends and insights to anticipate your target customer's future needs or desired features.
To get you started, interview your existing customers to see what they think will be a challenge for them in the coming months or years and see if you can create any features to help smooth their business operations. You can also follow an influencer in your industry to stay up to date with trends to anticipate customer’s future needs and desired features.
Mastering B2B Marketing Channel Strategies
Although outbound and direct marketing have a place in most B2B marketing plans, the world of professional services has changed. Today, most buyers are more likely to use search engines to find answers to their questions about their work.
Due to the evolution of the marketing landscape, B2B companies now have various strategies to remain competitive and attract more potential clients. This section will show some of the most effective B2B marketing techniques to help you grow your business.
Channel Tip #1: Boost B2B Email Marketing Success
The goal of B2B emails should be to provide valuable resources and educational content to help demonstrate your brand's value to a potential customer.
When using email marketing in B2B campaigns, general email marketing techniques are less effective than they would be in other areas. There are a few common reasons this strategy fails when it comes to generating leads.
Unlike general email marketing campaigns mainly focused on individuals, B2B campaigns are designed for multiple people at a company. You must identify a target group specific to your
company and those who are typically involved in the purchasing process. You might need to send multiple emails to different people within the same company to reach them effectively.
B2B email marketing also has a different purchase cycle from a general email marketing campaign. It's not as simple as sending a B2C email to consumers who are easily convinced to purchase a product for their personal use. Expect your email purchase cycles to take longer because of how long the customer journey is with B2B in general.
Channel Tip #2: Maximize ROI with B2B Paid Campaigns
B2B marketing with paid campaigns can include search engine ads, sponsored posts, or banner ads on relevant websites. The goal is to generate leads and reach potential customers with targeted messaging.
B2B marketing with paid campaigns can include online advertising platforms such as Google Ads, social media advertising, and display advertising. In terms of platform, Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads are the top choices for B2B marketers.
It’s best to combine paid advertising with other marketing activities like content marketing, email marketing, and SEO for greater benefits. Plus, you can use paid ads for retargeting existing customers and promoting special offers.
Additionally, measuring the return on investment of these campaigns is crucial to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. The best ways to measure an ROI from your paid ads are to incorporate buyer personal data and boost content your target demographic can relate to.
Other key strategies to measure the ROI of your B2B paid ads are to track conversions, use UTM tracking, run the A/B testing, and use analytics tools to help you track the performance of your B2B paid campaigns, monitor the behavior of your target audience, and measure conversions from your ads.
By incorporating these strategies, you can effectively measure the ROI of your B2B paid advertising campaigns and make data-driven decisions to optimize and improve your campaigns over time.
Channel Tip #3: Leverage B2B Social Media Marketing and Partnerships
Social media marketing may not be where B2B companies convert the most leads, but it is an effective tool for building brand awareness, creating an online personality, and humanizing your business. It's also a great channel for sharing content and establishing your brand as an expert in the space.
Studies have shown that 75% of B2B buyers consult social media and 63% of C-level and VP-level buyers use online professional networks to support their purchase decisions. Social media and its networking ease help B2B buyers gain confidence and convenience.
Social media offers convenience and accessibility to information, as well as reviews and recommendations from other users. One way B2B marketers are looking to ensure their products or services are visible on social channels is through influencer partnerships.
By partnering with an influencer in your industry, you can tap into their existing network and reach a new audience that may not be familiar with your brand. Influencer partnerships can provide valuable additional insights and data, such as audience demographics and buying habits, which can help inform future marketing strategies.
When choosing influencer partnerships, it's important to research which influencers have the most authentic connections with your target audience. Make sure their values align with your brand values, consider their engagement rate, tone of voice and cost per post before partnering with an influencer!
Channel Tip #4: Optimize Formatting for Each Platform
When choosing a platform, consider where your customers are and the relevant content formatting for that social media platform. For example, Instagram is a visually driven platform, so you must focus on creating high-quality, visually appealing content. This can include images and videos, as well as Instagram Stories and Reels.
The audience on Instagram is diverse, but it's common for businesses to target younger generations and consumers with casual but fun or educational content. This can include product images, behind-the-scenes content, and influencer collaborations.
LinkedIn is the most popular platform among B2B marketers, with 80% using it for paid social posts. As a professional network, the demographic on LinkedIn is primarily made up of business professionals and C-Suite executives. The type of content that performs well on this platform includes thought leadership articles, industry news, and company updates. In addition, long-form content such as whitepapers and ebooks can also be shared on LinkedIn.
However, depending on the industry and size of the business, other platforms such as TikTok and YouTube may also be relevant. On these video-focused social media platforms, you must create engaging videos that showcase your products or services. Remember, the two platforms have different types of audiences.
Audiences on YouTube and TikTok demand a more personal presence and require companies to have a face to their brand or product. Hence, you cannot just post anonymously as you would on Instagram.
TikTok is known for its short-form, fun, and creative video content, where users expect to be entertained and engaged. Therefore, B2B marketers on TikTok should create content that is not just informative but also engaging while still promoting their products or services.
YouTube, on the other hand, is more of a video-based platform where users expect more in-depth content, including educational and tutorial-style videos. B2B marketers on YouTube can use this platform to provide educational and informational content about their products or services, demonstrate their expertise, and build thought leadership.
Winning Strategies For B2B Marketing Success
B2B is a more intimate and personal marketing practice compared to other forms of marketing. When catering to other businesses in the modern era, it's not enough to have a generalist approach and expect your target audience to come of their own volition – you need to come to them.
In this way, audience engagement and storytelling are even more vital than ever when addressing your target business. While content marketing formats like blog posts and whitepapers are still important, they need to engage with a specific type of buyer, not just the general public. Researching and identifying your buyer's persona will be vital in selecting your ideal B2B strategy.
With this in mind, aligning your sales and marketing team will be key to maintaining success. Marketing teams create content more specific to their market segmentation, generating leads based on personalized strategies.
However, marketing also needs to communicate these goals and lead-generation strategies to sales. Conflict in strategy and brand value is one of the easiest ways to alienate a potential audience.
But where should a B2B marketer start? Considering the sheer range of content and approaches, deciding which is best for your audience may take time. There are, however, a few great practices to branch out from.
Strategy #1: Building Trust through Personalized Outreach
Over 77 percent of B2B audiences prefer researching products independently instead of being given information by a sales representative. B2B marketing differs from B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing in this way – it focuses more on education than compelling emotional beats and calls to action.
However, there will always be more advanced information leads need to know before making big decisions, and having open communication channels is essential in supporting these inquiries.
A 24/7 customer service team can greatly improve the buyer's journey, giving leads more opportunities to learn about your brand and services while also fostering a healthy, reliable business-to-business relationship.
In larger-scale operations, you can support top-of-the-funnel leads through automated customer service technology like chatbots. However, major clients must interact with your human customer service operations to further build on your business's personal and professional relationships.
Strategy #2: The Power of Consistent Follow-ups
Alongside open communication channels, once you've established a lead, it's essential to follow up through further contact to reinvigorate interest. This means sending emails summarizing the interaction and providing more related suggestions or even scheduling calls or appointments to check on any previous issues or concerns.
With advancements in automation, you can establish follow-up steps as soon as your marketing analytics shows lead activity. For example, if a lead has subscribed to your newsletter, you can automate email campaigns to give more information or access relevant services.
Whether you're automating follow-ups or manually performing them through calls or inquiries, it's important to bring up your unique value proposition (UVP) and establish what you can bring to the table for future clients.
Strategy #3: Continual Analysis and Optimization
After establishing campaign strategies, you might be tempted to wait until the campaign is over to assess its results. However, your team always has ample opportunity to analyze data throughout the campaign process, adjusting and improvising when needed.
Installing marketing analytics and tracking devices on web pages or social media links helps determine your lead generation and conversion rates, giving you a better idea of how to advance through the process.
You can even consider performing A/B testing (testing the performance of different content) and using analytics to determine which approach may be more suitable for bigger projects.
Analyzing the results of your campaign can also help build on future projects by giving insight into its failures or successes. Which campaigns tend to achieve their key performance indicators? What could be lacking in less successful campaigns? All this information can help optimize marketing projects throughout all stages, from beginning to end.
Creating Impactful and Optimized B2B Content Marketing
B2B content marketing is a critical component of your online marketing strategy. It's the practice of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a specific target market. The goal is to educate and inform potential customers about your products or services, establish thought leadership, and ultimately drive conversions. A survey by Statista shows content marketing is considered to have the highest ROI compared with other channels and is widely used by B2B marketers, dominating 91% of B2B marketing usage.
B2B content marketing can take many forms, including blogging, podcasting, email newsletters, and infographics. However, you must bear in mind that B2B content marketing is different from B2C in that the audience is more focused and specific. B2B content is also distributed differently, with email marketing, conferences, search, and company websites being the primary channels instead of social media. This is because B2B marketing generates less conversion than B2C marketing when circulated on social media.
To make sure your content marketing reaches your intended target, search engine optimization (SEO) is vital in expanding your brand awareness, especially in the lead generation phase. Here are some tips to optimize your B2B content marketing efforts:
Content Tip #1: Craft Attention-Grabbing Title Tags
Keep your title around 50-60 characters with the primary topic near the beginning. Long titles may not fit in search engines, and they often meander around the point of your article.
Content Tip #2: Entice Readers with Compelling Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the text that follows titles in searches, often used to describe the content more thoroughly. Keep these descriptions around 150-160 characters long, using as many relevant keywords as possible while promising readers compelling advice or knowledge about the topic.
Content Tip #3: Organize Content with Strategic Sections and Subheadings
Divide your content into manageable sections or subheadings to make it more digestible and serve as navigation markers, allowing readers to find information more easily. Consider the different questions your reader may ask after seeing your headline, then split it into parts to answer those questions.
Content Tip #4: Enrich Content with Engaging Visuals and Data
Posts with relevant images get 30 percent more shares and twice the traffic as those without images. Provide relevant data in attractive visuals, such as customized graphs or charts, to make your content more eye-catching. Just remember to include alt text or descriptive filenames to make the image accessible to search engines.
By following these guidelines, you'll create impactful and optimized B2B content marketing that effectively targets your audience and drives conversions. But your work doesn't end here. To ensure long-term success, it's crucial to continuously monitor, analyze, and adjust your content marketing efforts.
Excelling at Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Given the personalized nature of B2B marketing, directly approaching clients instead of generating broader leads can be a viable strategy for getting a return on investment. Account-based marketing differs from traditional marketing methods, focusing on specific accounts instead of narrowing down leads from a larger audience.
Concentrating time and resources on a high-value account helps focus marketing and sales teams on a singular goal while providing more benefits in the long run if successful. Over 90 percent of companies saw substantial growth after targeting specific accounts in their campaigns. However, there are several steps marketers should remember when starting their account-based marketing campaign.
ABM Tip #1: Pinpoint High-Value Target Accounts
Understand what companies benefit the most from your business, and begin narrowing down important figures within those companies.
When studying a company, you should consider history, location, size, pain points and other traits. Once you've found an ideal organization, you can research decision-makers in the fold to focus on.
ABM Tip #2: Develop Tailored Content for Each Account
After figuring out which accounts to hone in on, you can focus on shared common interests or specific niches in your content. Personalized content marketing invites target accounts to directly engage with you and indirectly tells them that you're fully aware of their history and concerns.
Content may also vary depending on the number of accounts you're targeting. For example, if you're focusing on a single person within a company, creating humorous or relevant material related to their interest may be worthwhile. However, if you're instead focusing on a handful of key decision-makers, it's best to focus on pain points and current concerns while still fondly addressing their company identity.
ABM Tip #3: Leverage the Most Effective Marketing Channels
Making good content won't lead to much if your targets can't see it, so it's essential to install content in channels where your accounts will immediately notice them.
Over 59 million companies have registered on LinkedIn, making it one of the most effective B2B marketing platforms to date. However, email marketing is also essential when establishing contact with accounts, along with other direct strategies like telemarketing or physical mail.
Account-based marketing can be measured through similar metrics as traditional forms of B2B marketing, but they're often more straightforward due to the narrower sales funnel. You can measure engagement through click-through rates, ad/website interaction or content shares and downloads. Pipeline generation can be seen through the monetary value of target accounts, enabled by hyperfocused marketing strategies.
Of course, revenue and return on investment are also important things to consider–how much did the company earn relative to its spending in the targeted campaign?
Effective account-based marketing strategies know when and how to focus on key actors and what that might entail. In a more hyperfocused example, the intelligence platform GumGum published a comic book featuring T-Mobile CEO John Legere, playing up the CEO's love of superheroes like Batman. This unique approach garnered positive social media interaction with Legere on Twitter, eventually leading to T-Mobile partnering with the company.
However, not all account-based marketing approaches need to be focused on one person. In a lighter example, the e-signature solution DocuSign implemented changing web pages to cater to different target industries and companies. Testimonials, content and other notable information were all adjusted based on each account's profile. Ultimately, over half of DocuSign's target enterprises found its website, leading to a 22% pipeline generation growth for the company.
B2B Marketing Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2023
B2B marketing is constantly evolving, and as we move into 2023, there are several trends that companies should be aware of to stay ahead of the curve.
In the coming years, trends such as personalization, video content, influencer marketing, and a focus on sustainability will be crucial for B2B marketers to reach and engage their target audience effectively.
One of the most significant trends is the shift towards more personalized marketing. With the rise of big data, companies are now able to collect and analyze vast amounts of information about their customers, which allows them to create more targeted marketing campaigns.
Additionally, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is becoming more prevalent as companies look to automate certain aspects of their marketing efforts and gain a deeper understanding of their customers' behavior.
B2B marketers must stay up-to-date with the latest trends so we rounded up the top five B2B marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2023.
Trend #1: Engaging Millennials and Gen Z in B2B Marketing
Millennials and Gen Z, being digital natives, have shaped digital and consumer behavior more than any other generation.
Millennials prefer a more personalized and tailored approach to B2B marketing, meaning marketers should use an omnichannel approach and target Millennials where they are, whether it be via email, social media, or SMS.
Additionally, millennials prefer real-time communication. Therefore, meeting their needs wherever and whenever they are is more likely to result in actual conversions. To target this generation effectively, it's important to remember that they value a B2C-like experience in B2B marketing. They want to be entertained, while being educated and love when marketing campaigns are personalized to them because they are easier to relate to.
Fun fact: 34% of the current decision-makers in the business world are Millennials, and nearly three-quarters of them provide input in purchasing decisions.
On the other hand, Gen Z is different from Millennials in a big way. They grew up during the peak of globalization and that has shaped their values and the way they think, work, make decisions, and spend their money.
Gen Z uses social media not only as a tool to stay connected with friends but also as a source of information. Thus, they are more likely to trust recommendations from peers, influencers, and online reviews.
They prefer to consume information in quick, bite-sized pieces accessible across multiple platforms and devices. B2B marketers should therefore focus on creating content that is visually appealing, engaging, and easy to understand for each platform.
TikTok and BeReal are currently the most popular platforms among Gen Z as they provide a sense of authenticity and belonging for this generation. About 70% of Gen Z internet users are projected to use TikTok in 2023, prompting more marketers to take a dive into the short video content format.
With their social media intensity, Gen Z expects a seamless, technology-driven experience when it comes to shopping and engaging with brands. Gen Z has a strong sense of social responsibility and is more likely to support brands that align with their values and have a positive impact on society.
The purpose-driven generation prefers to engage with brands that are honest and open about their practices and values.
Trend #2: The Rise of Personalized Content and Communication
In 2023, personalized content and communication will be crucial for successful B2B marketing. To connect with buyers, marketers must adopt personalized tactics from the B2C space and deliver the right content on the right channels at the right time.
Do your research on your target audience to understand their needs and interests. Then, divide your audience into smaller groups based on common characteristics. Utilize customer data, such as their demographics and purchasing history, to create specific content for each group and tailor your communication to their specific needs. This will make your messaging more relevant and impactful.
Use language that speaks directly to your audience and addresses their specific pain points and challenges. Encourage interaction and feedback from your audience through social media, surveys, and other methods of communication. Responding to comments and messages will show that you value their input and create a more personal connection.
You can also personalize your communications through email campaigns or comments and messages replies. Small things like including the recipient's name and company name can make the communication feel more personal and relevant.
Although this approach may be costly, 54% of B2B marketers in the US and UK plan to increase their content creation and strategy spending in 2023. Fortunately, new technologies like Generative AI and creative management platforms can help make this strategy more manageable. Don’t worry, we highlighted this trend below.
Trend #3: The Growing Influence of Video Marketing
Video marketing will be increasingly important in 2023 and it’s a powerful tool for creating brand awareness and reputation, as well as driving conversions.
Short-form video content has the potential to go viral (even with a low follower count) and reach a wide audience. Platforms such as websites, webinars, vlogs, live streams, and YouTube ad content are popular choices for video marketing.
According to Hubspot, 90% of marketers using short-form videos will increase or maintain their investment next year and 21% of marketers plan to start using short-form videos in 2023. This statistic makes perfect sense considering Gen Z’s prefer short-form video content over all other forms and take up the majority of users on social media.
Trend #4: Embracing Generative AI in Marketing
Artificial intelligence is becoming a bigger part of marketing, as it can be used for a variety of tasks, such as data analysis, personalized recommendations, and even content creation. Although AI is unlikely to completely take over content production, it can certainly help to enhance and streamline the process.
Generative AI and creative management platforms can help B2B marketers automate content creation and optimize content for different marketing channels, allowing them to create high-quality and relevant content faster, and at scale.
With real-time insights into marketing performance and customer behavior, these technologies allow B2B marketers to make informed decisions and optimize their marketing strategies faster. By leveraging AI-powered tools and platforms, B2B marketers can quickly personalize their marketing efforts to improve customer experience.
Trend #5: Tapping into Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been on the rise in recent years. According to Statista, the global market value for influencer marketing has more than doubled in the past three years and is currently worth $16.4 billion. The trend is expected to continue in 2023.
Around 61% of users trust recommendations from an influencer, compared with only 30% who trust recommendations from a brand on social platforms. This highlights the impact a brand mention can have when an influencer taps into their network and reaches a larger audience.
Marketers are increasingly turning to micro-influencers due to their higher engagement and conversion rates compared to macro-influencers. They tend to post more authentic content to followers who can easily relate to what they are posting and helps to build a stronger relationship, faster.
Overall, B2B marketing is becoming more data-driven, personalized, and customer-centric, and companies that can adapt to these trends will be well-positioned to succeed in 2023 and beyond.
Unlocking Insights with B2B Marketing Analytics
When you've committed to different B2B strategies, you'll need ways to measure your progress or success. Setting goals early allows you to adjust your strategies and team conversations around clear targets instead of faltering on execution or debating approaches.
Remember, it's vital always to keep your goals set to SMART:
- Specific: Clearly define your goals to ensure they are focused and detailed. Avoid vague or ambiguous objectives.
- Measurable: Develop a way to track your progress and quantify the results. This allows you to evaluate your success and make adjustments as needed.
- Achievable: Set goals that are challenging yet realistic. Aim for objectives that are within your capabilities and resources.
- Relevant: Align your goals with your broader objectives and values. Ensure they contribute to your overall vision and desired outcomes.
- Time-bound: Establish deadlines and timeframes for your goals. This creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused on your priorities.
Broad and intangible goals like "increase awareness" need to be given more particular indicators, like branded search volume or website traffic. The indicators should also be measurable by numbers or equations, and expected targets should be reasonable for the target market. The targets must also be relevant to the company's current needs under a certain deadline.
With all that in mind, analytics play a significant role in B2B marketing, with performance, trends and campaigns relying heavily on relevant statistics for adjustments. While qualitative analysis gives subjective and often flawed perceptions of a marketing campaign's path, data-driven approaches are more direct and measurable, making them ideal for maximizing ROI and improving campaign effectiveness.
Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider when measuring the success of a B2B marketing campaign:
- Lead generation: Leads are users who have shown interest in a brand's services, making them potential customers. Tracking measurable conversion details like email click-throughs or blog subscriptions gives a quantifiable idea of how many leads a marketing campaign is generating, letting you know how many customers you've made through your work.
- Conversion rate: Alongside lead generation, conversion rates are measured by how many leads take action and make a purchase or order your services. This can be calculated by dividing sales by the number of leads generated from your campaign. Low conversion rates suggest that your campaign struggles encourage viewers into action.
- Customer lifetime value: This measures the total revenue expected from a customer relationship based on their average purchase value, frequency, and length of time. A higher CLV indicates a successful campaign that has attracted and retained valuable customers. Optimizing CLV can lead to increased revenue and profitability through customer retention strategies.
Experienced marketers use numerous analytic tools to measure the success of different campaigns. Google Analytics is a free tool that can give robust rundowns and segmentations of traffic, allowing marketers to study overall trends in their leads and customers. However, Google Analytics is suited to generalized statistics, and some marketers may prefer more specialized tools from the market.
For example, Hubspot can give a more detailed analysis of individual visitors through its contact records feature, which may be ideal for personalized B2B lead generation. Adobe Analytics is also an advanced tool specialized for marketers, able to create custom conversion funnels and even produce predictive analytics based on previous data.
Using these tools and KPIs gives you a better idea of where you can improve your campaign. Is your campaign struggling to generate leads? Investigate your reach and consider adjusting to a more eye-catching approach. Is your lead generation high but conversions low? Strengthen your call to action.
You can use analytics to prioritize effective approaches and adjust the weaker ones if you have different campaigns and ads in mind. These practices allow you to improve the buyer's journey and experience, giving you deeper insight into future campaign prospects.
Streamlining Success with B2B Marketing Automation
With rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, B2B automation has the potential to become even more important than it's ever been. While some form of automation has been used to perform repetitive tasks, like sending messages in email marketing campaigns or doing transaction updates, developments in machine learning can go above and beyond in improving the buyer's journey and enhancing customer experience.
Personalization, speed and accuracy are all significant drivers for successful B2B content marketing campaigns, but finding all three eats up valuable time and resources. Artificial intelligence promises to cut these costs and give companies a more intimate and productive mode of connecting with their target market. Here are some things B2B marketing automation can do:
- Increase productivity: While automation can perform simple tasks, new AI technology can also handle more complex, repetitive tasks normally conducted by humans. For example, chatbots with diverse language models can adequately respond to more complex customer inquiries, reducing the need for human agents. You can instead redirect the workforce towards producing new concepts, leading current campaigns, or focusing on major clients.
- Improve lead nurturing: AI automation can also help generate and nurture leads through in-depth data analysis and continuous follow-ups. Chatbots can answer questions for potential customers while also collecting data from their interactions and questions, allowing you to better draw your leads through the sales funnel. Once leads are satisfied with the answers and begin their purchasing journey, AI can also work to nurture them through further email automation customized according to their earlier journey.
- Analyzing and finding target audiences: Though chatbots and other AI engagement are vital in targeting audiences, the data produced by predictive algorithms alone is priceless. AI predictive analytics gives an in-depth view of a campaign's potential success based on the company's previous history while also narrowing down potential leads, targets, market segmentations, trends and more. These help all stages of the buyer's journey, from lead generation to customer relationship management.
Like B2B marketing analytics, there are several notable tools in B2B automation strategies. Hubspot's Marketing Automation Software provides free and paid options for automated lead scoring, email drip campaigns, follow-ups and other marketing services. It also logs important metrics and analytics to measure return on investment (ROI).
Adobe's Marketo Engage is a paid package deal with various automation options, all powered by advanced AI technology. It can create personalized content through customer behavioral profiles and build predictive analytics on audience and segmentation from a massive database.
Pardot, or Salesforce Marketing Cloud Engagement, is a data-driven automation service that helps marketers build better leads and identify prospects. The service can track leads through submitted forms and analyze aspects, such as their social media history or interest in your marketing services. While it can automate simple tasks like email marketing, Pardot shines in providing data necessary to improve customer journeys and sales management.
Marketing automation opens up incredible opportunities for B2B marketing, cutting back on more mundane activities and allowing teams to prioritize higher-form tasks. Consider integrating marketing automation into your customer relationship management systems, streamlining customer service, email campaigns, and even sales tasks like call scheduling or leads assignments.
You can also create more personal experiences through marketing segmentation and AI chatbot interactions. Many automation solutions give you data regarding a lead's demographic or behavior, allowing you to pinpoint their needs and desires throughout the buyer's journey. By using this data, you can tailor automated responses to suit different segments, creating a more beneficial and relevant experience for target audiences.
Top 3 B2B Marketing Case Studies to Inspire You
Case studies are a go-to for marketers because they're a great way to show how a product or service helped other businesses.
If you're in the B2B space, case studies are especially important because the buying process can take a while and be pretty complicated. In fact, according to the Demand Gen Report, case studies are the most effective type of content with a 78% conversion rate.
Here are some examples of unique case studies to give you some inspiration and ideas of how to connect with your potential buyers.
Case Study #1: HubSpot's Outstanding Success
HubSpot is a B2B company that provides software for sales, marketing, and customer support teams. It has put its digital marketing efforts specifically through providing valuable, quality content with the goal of providing solutions to customer relationship management problems and, ultimately, winning new customers.
One way it does this is by being the first to publish guides on topics that are relevant to its target market. As soon as there's a change in the online marketing industry, HubSpot will be one of the first to publish the guide, tips, and tricks to navigate the new trend. It makes sure to always share the best advice available and all its information is free – creating a sense of reliance as well as giving them market leader credibility.
Through this approach, it has become a trusted source of education in its market. This successful software startup, which was founded in 2006, reached a revenue of $2.2 million just two years later. By 2022, its total revenue was in the range of $1.705 billion to $1.707 billion.
Case Study #2: Cisco's Innovative B2B Strategy
Cisco is a leading company in the field of IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions. To enhance its digital marketing strategy, it has set up a social listening center to monitor and analyze customer feedback and engagement on social media platforms.
By monitoring over 5,000 posts per day on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Cisco was able to see a significant return on investment.
Not only did this strategy save the company money on external agency fees, but it also helped the team increase productivity and identify new sales opportunities.
As a result, Cisco saw a 281% return on investment within just five months and an annual profit of $1,596,292.
Case Study #3: Mailchimp's Rise to Fame
Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service that has found success on Instagram by effectively communicating with its audience and showcasing the company's personality.
The team posts visually appealing graphics and cleverly relates them to its audience and followers, even if they don't directly relate to Mailchimp's products or services. It also features stories and testimonials from real customers to create a positive impact on potential consumers.
Additionally, Mailchimp uses the tool LinkinBio, allowing Instagram users to easily access its homepage, creating a clear path for those interested in learning more about the company.
Overall, Mailchimp's strategy on Instagram has been effective in engaging and converting potential customers.
Glimpses into the Future of B2B Marketing
The future of B2B marketing is highly dynamic, and marketers must stay on top of their game. Here are some future projections of the B2B market.
2023 will be a defining moment for B2B, especially as digital advertising spending in the US surpasses $15 billion. As a result, B2B marketers face greater competition than ever before. Then comes AI. For years, this technology has been touted as the next great thing in marketing, but it is more than just robotic exchanges and interactions. It includes using chatbots in the frontline, prospect communication automation, improved personalization, and predictive analysis.
When it comes to B2B purchases, Millennials prefer tailored shopping experiences similar to what B2C offers. The B2B customer experience index is less than 50%, while B2C businesses score between 65% and 85%. As a B2B player, you may benefit from such consumer customization by tracking purchasing habits, targeting clients with ads – and therefore increasing revenues.
Future trends also indicate that the B2B e-commerce market has much growth potential. For starters, the cumulative annual growth rate between 2022 and 2030 is expected to be 20.2%.The forecast is based on the widespread adoption of new technologies in the B2B e-commerce industry. Companies, particularly after the pandemic, have become more receptive to incorporating online channels to boost revenue.
This year, 17% of all US B2B purchases are projected to be made online. In comparison to 2019, only 13% of all B2B transactions in the US were digital at the time. If you are trying to enter B2B e-commerce or are already working on building brand awareness, you are on the right path.
Effective B2B marketing requires having a deep understanding of the target audience, which is primarily business professionals and C-Suite executives. To reach this audience, companies must adapt their marketing strategies beyond conventional methods, but also to the digital landscape.
In addition, the B2B market is highly dynamic and B2B marketers must stay on top of their game to succeed in this competitive industry. The use of big data and AI is also becoming more prevalent in B2B marketing, which can greatly enhance B2B marketing efforts by personalizing campaigns, improving customer insights, and automating routine tasks. Stay up to date with current trends such as personalization, video content, influencer marketing, and sustainability!