The past year changed how businesses approach marketing. Early in 2020, we all learned that things can change at the drop of a hat, and B2B companies quickly realized just how important it was to be agile. Approaches once thought evergreen, such as more traditional marketing and in-person strategies, were upended almost overnight.
In 2021, businesses aren’t just focused on recouping their losses, but taking their companies to the next level. For this to happen, it’s essential for them to embrace B2B growth marketing trends and be quick to adopt those that are relevant for their business and industry.
It’s crucial to be an early adopter of rising trends. Leveraging new growth trends gives you a competitive advantage over companies that only do what they’ve always done. For 2021, B2B growth strategies are taking after B2C tactics that are customer-first and building brand awareness and trust to tap into the market’s emotion.
7 B2B Growth Marketing Strategies in 2021
1. The Rise of Omnichannel Marketing
The path to a customer purchase can begin anywhere. It could be from sales pages on your website, a Facebook inquiry, a referral from one of your social media profiles — you get the idea.
Since every channel a company uses has prospects at every stage of the sales funnel, it’s no surprise that omnichannel marketing is on the rise.
Omnichannel marketing makes use of multiple channels that, together, form a unified customer experience.
It’s not the multichannel type of marketing where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Omnichannel marketing aligns sales efforts with marketing, across all distribution channels, allowing your target audience to get relevant interactions however they engage with your company.
When done right, omnichannel marketing reduces buyer friction, a key element in making the inbound flywheel spin. Ask for feedback from your existing customer base on their buyer’s journey experiences and see which areas you can improve to make engagement with your brand across different channels a more unified effort.
2. Hyper-Personalization to Drive Conversions
Some studies suggest that the average B2B customer spends about two minutes or less on a website. In that short amount of time, they need to know whether the product or service they’re considering will solve their problem. If they decide that it will, they need to be able to make the purchase or inquiry process seamless.
Even having too many fields on your contact or opt-in form can add friction and significantly lower completion rates. More companies are using tools like Clearbit to auto-fill forms by instantly inputting their data without having to repeatedly key in basic information manually.
Delivering the same message to prospects, even if it isn’t relevant to them at their stage in the buyer’s journey, doesn’t cut it anymore in 2021. Marketing today is focused heavily on personalizing the buying journey for customers.
You can do this by making sure your customers receive the right message on the right channel at the right time. For example, instead of generic email blasts, find out your customers’ triggers to know which emails to send, boosting the overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
Marketing in 2021 will look to address these issues in the B2B space, with tools that don’t just attract marketing qualified leads (MQLs) but sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready for account-based marketing efforts.
Intent marketing will be a big focus for marketing teams this year where, through the use of tools, they’ll be able to see which companies are represented by people viewing their website, and whether these companies might have problems they can solve.
3. Virtual Events and Teams Will Be the Norm
As the world grapples with the pandemic through 2021 and beyond, work that can be done remotely will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. Businesses that still require in-office work could seriously impede their chances of retaining and attracting top talent, especially for digital marketing roles that don’t necessarily need to be physically in an office to do great work.
Top marketers simply need access to the right tools on the market so they can work from anywhere.
In terms of strategies for marketing success, virtual alternatives to in-person marketing will still be a preferred way to connect. Companies were quick to adapt virtual conferences, workshops, and webinars, and many experienced an increase in participants, with attendees extending beyond their local pool and giving them global reach.
Hosting virtual events is also a great way to leverage partnerships with complementary offerings, widening your reach to markets you might not be able to attract on your own.
4. Growing Demand for Customer Experience Management
With the strong global shift to digital that was accelerated last year, digital customer experience should be prioritized by businesses who want to grow in 2021. This is compounded even more as millennials, who are comfortable with making online purchases, are in positions to make buying decisions for their organizations.
Mapping the customer journey is even more critical now, with companies needing to have a true understanding of how people interact with their brand in order to make genuine connections with their customers on their mobile devices.
More than 65% of customers said that their digital experience with a brand is very important in referral marketing as well. Part of customer experience is also providing customers ways to give you feedback and creating business processes that allow you to respond to this feedback.
Your feedback system is also important as this is how you’ll get insights into customer sentiment, diagnose broad problems to make lasting solutions, and make adjustments to problematic touchpoints on your customer journey map.
The same is true for support systems, with online channels now outperforming speaking with agents over the phone. Focusing on these channels allows you to scale your business by reallocating this budget onto other customer experience strategies.
Self-service tools are also on the rise, with customers preferring to do their own research and troubleshoot themselves before reaching out to help desks. A large part of customer experience is making sure the content they have on hand to do their research is high-quality.
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5. The Advent of Podcast Marketing
As more companies focus their efforts on their online presence, industries are only going to grow more competitive. Brands from the get-go need to build customer trust. According to the 2020 Trust Barometer Survey, trust is 70% more important now than ever before.
For B2B customers, doing business with brands that have proven track records of trustworthiness and credibility is a top priority.
A way to cultivate this trust with your audience is by adopting the growth marketing trend of thought leadership in the form of podcasts or webinars. This is especially effective when targeting decision-makers and senior executives. By publishing relevant, valuable content on well-respected, online industry publications, podcasts, and webinars, you position yourself as an expert in the field and generate awareness for your brand.
Approximately 155 million people listen to podcasts in the U.S. alone, making it a content type that’s rising in a big way. You can repurpose your thought leadership pieces and blog posts into audio formats, or invite key figures in the company to share their knowledge.
6. AI Technology Will Play a More Pivotal Role
Marketing is adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning to parse volumes of conversion data to predict high-quality leads.
Lead-scoring tools, like those by HubSpot, can predict the value of a user. B2B marketers and sales teams can also make use of AI to leverage predictive analytics to make relevant suggestions for action to their consumers based on past engagement and buying behaviors with the brand.
AI is able to not only personalize a customer’s experience but contextualize messaging and give them answers or search results that are highly relevant to their present needs. A form of marketing in line with this is conversational marketing through chatbots, which is on the rise. Through AI, users can communicate with a business at their convenience and receive a reply without waiting until normal business hours or human operators are available.
Chatbots don’t just increase the efficiency of customer services; more and more businesses are using it as part of their inbound marketing and lead generation strategy.
Users who want to know something specific or want their question answered but don’t have the time to read blogs or lengthy knowledge-base articles can simply engage with a chatbot and get the answers they need.
7. TikTok Will Influence B2B Video Marketing
Video is serious business, with people estimated to watch an average of 100 minutes of video per day. If video isn’t part of your content marketing strategy, you’re seriously missing out.
A video platform that’s steadily on the rise is TikTok, with over 800 million active subscribers, most of which are Gen Z. While there isn’t much B2B marketing on the platform yet, the platform’s Gen Z audiences are future decision-makers, making it important to connect with them on relevant channels.
TikTok’s format, in particular, is addicting, playing into today’s seconds-long attention spans with fast-paced videos that hook the audience and encourage them to watch more. It is also casual and easy to use, enabling individuals and even brands, to create and share videos quickly. It’s built for brands looking to humanize themselves and build trust, transparency, diversity, and inclusivity.
Video, whether on TikTok or another social channel, enjoys far higher engagement than other content types. Take a lesson from this social media platform and offer fast, catchy, and engaging video content.
You can leverage its power to show brand identity and get high engagement by working with a marketing agency that specializes in video marketing, such as Weidert Group. Video marketing agencies help companies conceptualize, create, and publish videos that engage their target markets and motivate them to action.
Customer spending was altered drastically in 2020, with these changes still in effect in 2021. Businesses need to adapt to these changes by embracing what’s new in marketing.
The line between B2B marketing and B2C marketing is blurring even more, with strategies once thought only effective or appropriate for B2C showing effectiveness in the B2B space.
At the end of the day, connecting with customers is what drives conversion. Through hyper-personalization and embracing rising technologies, platforms, and content types, growth marketers can get ahead of the curve and not just recoup any losses from the previous year but also grow significantly moving forward.
For more ideas on how to improve your inbound marketing approach, check out our guide below.