Have you ever thought about improving your business to business marketing and possibly taking your sales up a notch? Is there something that’s not working out for you? Are there some good tools that you could be using? Here are the top 5 B2B marketing trends you need to know to succeed in 2021.
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1. Business to business marketing goes digital
Back in the day, B2B marketing was all about going to tradeshows, exchanging cards, going for lunch/coffee/dinner and meeting face-to-face. Now people are making connections online more than ever before.
It’s time to accept that the B2B marketing process starts online first.
You can’t promote your product or service the way you used to and expect to succeed in 2021. The B2B buyer has changed. Nowadays, B2B buyers spend more time researching the products and services they want and need online.
According to the Showpad report, “C-suite executives, in particular, are most likely to prefer websites (61%) and online peer reviews (60%) over all other forms of research.”
Furthermore, B2B buyers “now spend up to 20 hours researching, which can go up to 40 hours when the price tag is more than $100,000.”
The new generation of B2B buyers:
- Doesn’t like cold calling
- Prefers email communications over everything else
They are looking through your company’s online presence — your website, blog, social media channels — to help with their decision-making. Don’t call them; they’ll call you — when they’re ready.
Take a new approach
The main mistake I see in B2B marketing is that companies continue to promote their repetitive sales-driven messages on every social media channel. If you want them to notice you, stop what you were doing before. The goal is to stop hard-selling and start a conversation.
Nobody likes to read your salesy messages on LinkedIn.
If you want to turn more browsers into buyers, what you put online should be:
- 80% value content — interesting, engaging posts and videos that humanizes your brand and brings some sort of value to your potential client/reader and
- 20% sales content where you state the benefits/features of your product/service and ask for a sale.
The times are changing; are you ready for the future?
2. The new buyer demographics
The portrait of a typical B2B buyer has changed dramatically over the years. According to Merit’s study of buyers, “73% of 20- to 35-year-olds are involved in product or service purchase decisions at their companies. One-third report that they are the sole decision-maker for their department.” The decision-makers are much younger than they used to be.
This generation is often called digital natives, people who were raised with the internet and are well-versed in tech.
In fact, approximately 50% of all B2B product researchers are digital natives. This report from Merit also determined that B2B researchers do at least 12 searches online before engaging with a website with an expectation that their B2B buying experience will be on par with their B2C experiences.
3. Social media rises in importance
According to the Pew Research Center, “almost all Millennials now say they use the internet, and 19% of them are smartphone-only internet users – that is, they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet service at home.”
Take a close look at your social media. How interesting are your B2B marketing posts?
If your company doesn’t have any social media channels set up, get started right now. Focus on two channels — a LinkedIn Business Page and Twitter, but do it well. Make sure:
- Your profile pages are fully set up
- The graphics reflect your company’s main message
- Your profiles are optimized
Also, don’t forget to regularly share relevant value-based content and engage with your followers (a content calendar can be helpful here). If someone reaches out to you or comments on your post, respond quickly.
If you are in the B2B industry, you have to think about a focused LinkedIn strategy, as that’s where 80% of all business leads originate. Note that Twitter is not far behind with 89% of B2B marketers using it to distribute content. But it gets better — according to a Hubspot study, “LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than other social media networks.”
Don’t assume that everyone knows what you do or understands your product or your technology.
Avoid industry jargon and use words that are easy to understand for someone who is not familiar with your industry. Figure out where your target customer is hanging out, and go there and be there for them (if it’s not LinkedIn, go where they are). Your goal is simple:
- Find out what questions they have about your product or service
- Learn what obstacles they confront in securing it
- Help them by solving their problems and bringing value
On social media, the more you give, the more you get.
4. Marketers get serious about search engines
There is no future for your business if you are not appearing on the first page of Google search results for keywords related to your product or service.
This may seem harsh, but it's true. If you are not ranking on Google, the No. 1 search engine in the world, you have a major problem.
People spend a lot of money on visually attractive websites. What they should be spending money on is making sure that their website:
- Is SEO optimised
- Filled with content that Google likes to see (blog posts, videos, case studies, informative articles, etc)
- Includes relevant long-tail keywords
Find the keywords your customers use when searching for your business or product and be strategic about adding them to your website, so that you can rank high for those keywords and attract your ideal customer.
Now B2B marketing involves marketing to search engines as well as people.
5. B2B marketing content assumes a larger role
Content is still king, even in the arena of business to business marketing. It’s be shown that “80% of business decision-makers prefer to get information from an article than an ad.”
You need to focus on valuable, high-quality content.
Why? Because “75% of buyers say content significantly impacts their buying decision, and 62% say they can finalize their purchase selection criteria based on digital content alone."
Videos are a very helpful type of content because they humanize your brand, build rapport and trust, and show a glimpse of your culture. People buy from people, so it’s good to show the human side of your company.
What type of content should you post? Focus on the following:
- Blog posts that address your customers’ frequently asked question and position your company as an industry expert
- Upcoming webinars (and recordings of previous webinars)
- Statistics about your industry, your product, etc.
- Humour (don’t be afraid to have a sense of humour but do it within reason).
- Interviews with thought leaders in your industry
- Industry news
- How-to videos, tutorials and attention-grabbing clips under 60 seconds
- Videos of your staff
- Case studies, white papers and industry research
- Video or written testimonials from your customers
- Information about your services/products and how they can help the end-user
Greet the future with confidence
Now that you know the top 5 B2B marketing trends, you are ready to take your promotions up a notch in 2021.
Even though we are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 and shifting buyer behaviour, the business-to-business industry is not going anywhere. By following these tips, you can stay ahead of the game.
The key to long-term success is engaging with B2B customers where they want to engage with us, while being authentic, responsive and timely. What are you waiting for? Pick a task and get started now!