How B2B Marketing is Evolving in 2021

This year, B2B marketers are focusing on AI-driven marketing and advertising. CMSWire's Customer Experience Channel (CXM) brings together the latest news, advice and analysis on the changing landscape of marketing, commerce and customer-centric digital experience design. The question is, now that B2B sellers have had time to better understand B2B buyer behavior after the pandemic, how different will spending allocation and channel mix be? Digital, mobile-oriented and hyper-targeted advertising, search and content will form the backbone of B2B marketing plans. Vic Vaswani, head of growth marketing at venture firm focused on innovation and technology FedTech, agreed that the pandemic pushed B2B shoppers to learn to make larger purchases through online channels.

In response, he suggested that B2B sellers take the initiative to help buyers make more informed purchasing decisions and leverage intent data to deliver the right content at the right digital touchpoints along the buyer's journey. For example, content syndication during the research phase and dynamic content supported via email, retargeting, and events (on-demand and live) during the nurture phase. The role of events is also changing. Sharma said her team now sees digital events as an awareness-raising and branding tactic, and less as a lead generation channel.

So where do the clues come from? Social media is becoming an effective lead generation channel, says Jurgen Desmedt, head of marketing at European CDP provider NGDATA. The Desmedt team is experimenting with channels such as Instagram as a way to create presence and awareness in a changed B2B industry where more people are working remotely. Presence on these channels isn't so much about encouraging potential customers as it is about creating a brand presence and revealing the human side behind a logo. While experimentation has its value, he warns, it's not worth exploring all trends.

For example, while video content is a central focus and your team is investing in soundless video on mobile devices for B2B buyers, a sound platform like TikTok, despite its popularity, may not be a good fit for a B2B brand. Vaswani said that while marketing-specific KPIs are important, it focuses on aligning marketing objectives with business objectives and cementing the role of growth marketing as a revenue generator. Conversations are gaining prominence in B2B marketing, Desmedt said, noting that they increasingly form the basis of marketing evaluation for them. To make the conversation more effective, they're mixing different teams in the conversation, not just marketing.

Social media can be a versatile channel for B2B companies, given the freedom they offer. According to Gartner research, 82% of B2B brands are active on social media and employ every possible way to reach and engage with shoppers to drive desired business outcomes (full research available to customers). Most B2B sales and marketing teams typically operate in a “serial” or “linear” manner. Marketing engages prospective buyers early in their buying process, qualifying their readiness and suitability for sales rep participation through “nutrition”.

Once those leads have been designated “market-qualified”, individual salespeople take charge and look for those leads through in-person or virtual interactions. In between is “handover”, where marketing takes over sales, and online customer engagement gives way to in-person customer engagement. As more and more marketers experience the effectiveness of chatbots firsthand, the use of chatbots for generating and nurturing leads will increase significantly. According to Gartner research, marketing teams typically spend around 30% of their budget creating content to meet a variety of engagement initiatives.

The survey mentioned above shows that only 32% of B2B CMOs report to the CEO, and only 54% contribute marketing perspective to corporate strategy. According to 83% of B2B buyers, treating them like real people (rather than just numbers) is essential to winning your business. The new destination of the B2B marketer is to be the driving force behind the company's success. Content marketing offers numerous benefits such as driving traffic, increasing brand awareness and authority, educating customers, and converting shoppers.

For marketers, success lies in knowing their buyers, understanding their problems, and being able to articulate and develop compelling solutions. The Right B2B Content Marketing Strategy Will Help B2B Businesses Attract, Acquire, and Retain Customers. According to Gartner research around 80% of marketing organizations report having implemented a B2B marketing automation platform leading to better calculation and analysis of marketing metrics (full research available to customers). Therefore traditional approach to analytics and metrics of many B2B marketers and way they measure and report on marketing performance are also evolving.

While digitalization has made it easier to target right buyers it has increased competition among B2B companies to attract customer attention.

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