B2B marketers have had a lot of ups and downs in the past year, so smart and data-driven adjustments to their digital marketing plans are critical to upcoming success. Advancements in technology, data, and digital channels have created an enormous opportunity for B2B companies to innovate and grow like never before.
But to make strategic changes and to develop the best marketing plan, it is critical to have current research and data to support your next steps.
In May 2021, research firm Ascend2 and digital marketing agency Wpromote surveyed 258 B2B marketing professionals in the U.S. to find out what critical shifts in digital strategy they are using to drive more success in the year ahead.
Here are a few findings from the research study and how the findings impact you.
Finding #1: Customer connection is everything.
The most important objective for B2B marketers is increasing customer engagement, improving customer experience, and improving brand awareness.
As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, marketers have recognized that customers are no longer satisfied with the B2B status quo; instead, they are investing in building a more personalized and experience-driven approach. An engaging, exceptional customer experience is fast becoming a non-negotiable part of a B2B digital marketing strategy.
Finding #2: Don’t overlook these digital marketing trends.
2020 presented a particular conundrum for B2B organizations: as traditional marketing strategies like conferences and networking-focused events became impossible, B2B marketers needed to find new ways to reach potential customers.
So it’s no surprise that brands embraced new social platforms, virtual events, and influencer marketing strategies that can open the door to new opportunities to drive brand awareness and grow new audiences.
Tip: The top three marketing trends (new social platforms, virtual events, influencer marketing) are more effective when you develop a strategic plan for how all three can work together. For example, finding the top influencers in your industry that also have a strong following on the new social platforms you are targeting will help you optimize your top priorities.
Finding #3: Budgets are going up.
B2B companies have historically underspent on digital, but that is changing. 2020 forced B2B brands to invest in their digital capabilities, including necessary tech and tactics (social platforms, virtual events, influencer marketing, etc.) and that trend looks likely to continue. Overall, 68% of B2B marketers expect an increase in digital budget in the coming months.
Tip: A large portion of the marketing budget is going to marketing technology. What will executives expect as they increase marketing technology budgets?
- An integrated plan from marketing: How will technologies work together to meet specific goals and impact core business objectives?
- Mapping investments to specific strategies, like customer engagement, customer journey, data quality, etc.
- Collaboration between departments to get the most out of tech investments.
Finding #4: Large companies struggle to prioritize quality over quantity.
Producing quality content, improving customer experience, and delivering quality leads are the top challenges for companies with annual revenue of more than $10M last year.
As organizations grow, priorities change—and so do the challenges facing marketers. Smaller B2B companies are much more focused on the bottom of the funnel, but larger companies are more focused on marketing strategies associated with moving up the funnel, pointing to quality content, and improving customer experience.
Finding #5: ABM could be a game-changer.
B2B marketers who reported the most success from their digital strategies are more likely to have an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy in place. ABM campaigns can cultivate engagement and drive conversion for high-value accounts by deploying targeted content and experiences. With the success that marketers are experiencing with ABM, expect ABM to continue to grow in the coming year.
Tip: Advanced segmentation is the key to ABM’s success and the ability to deliver a better customer experience. Better segmentation can improve the performance of sales teams, emails, content programs, and ABM campaigns because every touchpoint is more focused and informative.
Download The State of B2B Digital Marketing for data and insights on trends for B2B technology, data, channels, and more.