In a post-pandemic world, B2B customers’ expectations have forever changed. If there is nothing else you do in 2022 except ensure your online channels tell your brand story effectively to prospective and current B2B customers, you will be in a leading position ahead of your competitors in 2023 — the year we are told that the global economy will start to grow by leaps and bounds again.
B2B marketing has changed significantly since pre-pandemic days, and companies need to be able to serve a variety of information requirements on multiple channels to nurture prospects across the long and complex stages of the B2B buyer’s journey.
Marketing and sales teams must work together to ensure that all of your brand channels—from your LinkedIn page and website to your content marketing assets and sales decks — are all optimized to provide people with the information they need to know about your products and services.
Here are some illuminating statistics from a Sana Report on B2B Buyers published in 2021:
This last point is so important in 2022. As the world has gone more online, breaking through the screen and turning prospective customers into devoted followers is harder than it used to be. But successful marketers know that nothing beats a well-cultivated personal connection. How do you do that? Make your B2B marketing as personal and enticing as possible with the right data.
The key to building successful relationships with B2B customers and prospects in today’s more digitally-driven world is to leverage insightful data about your buyer in order to better understand their information needs and sentiment.
Here are six recommendations on how you can boost your B2B marketing strategy in 2022.
1. Leverage first-party data about your buyers to power your B2B marketing
At the awareness stage, B2B prospects start researching a solution to a pain point they’re experiencing. The research that a customer embarks on is intimidating to them, and the depth they dive into it also reveals their level of interest. Buyer data encompasses all of the signals, which indicate to B2B marketers that a customer is a serious prospect in need of information.
Armed with this data, you can more effectively communicate and sell your products and services to the right people, at the right time, in the right place using language that appeals to their current situation and sentiment. This data-driven approach will provide you with a clear advantage over your competitors during the interest and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.
Buyer data can be gleaned from:
Information about visitors to your company website
Including data which is submitted manually or intuited by your customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Pricing pages, data on frequency of visits within a certain timeframe, etc.
Downloads of bottom-of-funnel content
This would include eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, etc.
Entry-level employees rarely have buying power. Management-level employees usually do.
Lead information submitted
Providing a phone number indicates acknowledgement that the prospect may be called by someone on your sales team, which could indicate strong buyer intent.
Product comparison pages or “what people say about us” pages.
Time on page
More time on a page generally signifies interest.
Registration for and attendance of webinars
Showcases further interest.
2. Pay more attention to what your prospects do than what they say
Focus on the actions of your target accounts and contacts, from first “cold call” touchpoint interaction to post-sales product usage, expansion and renewal. Observed behavioral data captures two related forms of behavior: actions and statements. The most viable customers, prospects and influencers will exhibit specific behavior when they engage with your websites, email, advertising, peers and other sellers throughout their buying journey.
Observed behavioral data is the most potent fuel for AI-powered marketing communication systems because from it you can generate the most relevant next best action recommendations, or trigger an activation at the right time for a prospect to be most receptive.
Some examples of behavioral signals include:
Definitive declarations from prospects
These can be valuable signs of buying intent.
Social media posts from prospects
Specifically watch for posts indicating that the prospect is planning to buy.
Completion of an online form
Trackable forms should be available to a prospect on your website to “have a sales team member contact me.”
The bottom line is, make 2022 the year that you leverage the right data gathering strategy and tools to find the most revealing behaviors that customers and prospects exhibit regarding their readiness to buy. They may also reveal information about their specific pain points, information needs, plans, preferences, experiences and sentiment.
3. Collect third-party data about customers and prospects from numerous sources
Ideally, we recommend that B2B marketers use at least 3-5 different sources of information about customers and prospects to create the most comprehensive view of buyer behavior and feed AI-powered tools.
Today, there exists an expanding array of third-party sources that B2B marketers can leverage for access to customer data. Publishing networks such as Bombora, 6Sense, Demandbase, G2, Spiceworks, TechTarget and ZoomInfo monitor content consumption by companies, and this has become a de facto standard in B2B marketing. They’re sourcing insights from customers’ behaviors in their publishing networks or communities, on business sites across the internet and from engagement channels such as programmatic advertising.
4. Create quality content to serve the specific information needs of viable prospects
All of this data gathering about B2B customers in your 2022 marketing strategy must be put to good use. Once you have uncovered the information needs of viable prospects who are researching your products or services, begin to really think about the challenges and questions your prospects have, and make sure to address them effectively in your content marketing.
Create a robust content strategy that drives traffic to your website, educates prospects and helps to position your brand as a thought leader within your industry. However, be forewarned that competition for your prospects’ attention online is fierce.
According to a Semrush study conducted in 2019 on content marketing:
7,000+ word articles (long reads)
Are absolute leaders in terms of content performance, as they drive almost 4 times more traffic than articles of average length (900-1,200 words).
Posts containing at least one list per every 500 words of plain text
Get 70% more traffic than posts without lists.
10-13 word headlines
Drive twice as much traffic and 1.5X more shares than shorter ones (< 7 words).
The above stats focus on length of the blog or article, but quality matters just as much. Ensure you are offering value to your most viable customers and providing informative content that generates trust. Some good examples of long-form content to consider are case studies, how-to guides, webinars and product demonstrations.
eBooks and whitepapers also do well, as they are tried-and-true long-form content assets. Make sure that you craft these around the specific pain points and that you deliver these assets at the right touchpoint on the buyer’s journey to effectively target your buyer personas.
5. Improve lead capturing with intent data
You can leverage intent data for tailored buyer outreach in the content of your emails to make your email marketing more effective from the start. You could structure your email strategy in an A/B testing format, because it’s also important to experiment with different subject lines, copy language and landing page links to test the best ways of engagement. In fact, the most effective email marketing requires plenty of A/B testing to find the right types of content to engage buyers and prospects.
By appealing to the specific information needs and interests of viable leads, you are in essence elevating your email marketing for greater, more effective engagement overall. B2B marketers can personalize and optimize open rates with simple tools, or send reminder emails, or even simple emails saying thank you. This helps personalize the relationship with buyers.
According to a 2020 Demand Generation Benchmark study, 51% of marketers are using intent data to assess prospects who are actively showing buying intent, and then acting on that data in their marketing campaigns. For example, intent data can also help users determine the best time to send your emails by sharing signals that reveal when the recipient is most likely to open the email.
Armed with more intimate knowledge of their buyers, B2B marketers can experiment with different email content to ensure their email campaign is a success.
6. Ramp up deployment of AI-powered marketing functionality with quality data
Artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved from an enabling technology that is embedded in a few applications into an essential element of modern B2B marketing technology stacks. Quite simply, AI helps B2B marketers optimize the customer experience by automating resource-intensive processes and improving the generation of data-driven insights for faster and better decisions.
The only way to achieve the level of real-time personalization that modern B2B buyers demand across the protracted sales cycle and at an enterprise scale is through the use of AI-powered solutions.
AI is behind the success of many marketing technology systems, including:
Useful for bid optimization
Virtual assistant chatbots
Use natural language understanding and processing
Help with account prioritization
Specifically to reveal revenue attribution
Site personalization and sales enablement automation
Help determine next best content
Account-based marketing platforms
Enable buyer’s journey orchestration
The most significant challenge for most B2B marketers in 2022 and beyond will be in managing the quality of the customer and prospective customer data that fuels AI-driven B2B marketing systems. B2B marketers will need access to accurate, updated and complete data, preferably as detailed and diverse as possible from a wide variety of sources.
We hope this article has helped you gain some insight on emerging trends in B2B marketing in 2022. Following these actionable insights will help you refine and improve the effectiveness of your B2B marketing strategy in the coming year.
After reading this, if you have any questions on where to begin or how to implement any of these top B2B marketing strategies, please reach out to us here at Elevation Marketing. We would be happy to have a discussion, and we look forward to the opportunity.