6+ key B2B marketing trends to stay ahead of in 2022
Talk on the B2B marketing town is…
Traditional lead gen tactics are dead.
Subject-matter experts are in.
And, dark social is not to be underrated.
These are just a couple of thoughts that top marketers like Alice de Courcy, Cognism’s CMO, share in this article. We’ll be discussing what’s hot and what’s not for B2B marketing in 2022.
B2B marketing tactics | New hires | Tech and targets | The impact of the pandemic | Brand building | Taking a page out of B2C | More insights just a click away
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1. B2B marketing tactics
The 2020s have been like no other, especially in the world of B2B marketing.
Everything we thought we knew has changed due to the global pandemic and hybrid working.
But one thing is for sure, focusing on your customer is something that will never go out of fashion.
And that means a greater focus on what your customers are doing, where they’re spending their time and how your business can help. Rather than simply selling a solution and then forgetting all about them.
This is a demand marketing tactic we’ve been focusing on throughout 2021.
Our CMO, Alice, predicts it will be even more important going forward:
“I believe traditional lead gen strategies like syndicated content, air cover banner advertising etc., will be replaced by dark social and other places where people actually buy.”
“One major trend has to do with marketers' perception of the value of attribution. If you follow B2B marketing leaders like Chris Walker, you can't have missed his discussions of the dark funnel of marketing.”
“While marketing attribution will remain important in 2022, marketers will shift their attention to equally important marketing efforts such as the creation and distribution of content.”
And with content distribution comes jumping on popular trends and mastering them before your competitors do. Also known as underpriced attention.
“TikTok exploded in popularity in 2021, but B2B brands have mostly been slow to invest resources in the channel. However, In 2022 brands will move to the app en masse. This is due to many companies returning to the office and more opportunities and people to film.”
Google and SEO
TikTok’s growth in popularity has a lot to do with our ever-shrinking attention spans, which Google will focus on more in the coming years.
“In a mobile-first world, you have less time to grab your buyer's attention, so marketers will tailor their sites, messaging, and content to drive engagement, traction and growth with mobile in mind.”
“What’s more, Google is now considering the mobile-first design as a ranking factor for SEO performance.”
“With Google's third-party cookie ban looming in Q1 of 2023, 2022 will likely be the year that marketers double down on enhancing their owned first-party data with a major focus on the contents of their CRM systems.”
But that’s not all!
SEO is set to be a more significant part of our strategies than ever before, which is why Danavir Sarria, Founder of SupplyDrop, predicts going back to original research when building backlinks:
“I think original research is going to become a more popular tactic to build backlinks to B2B blogs. While they're difficult and expensive to create, they end up being the easiest and most cost-efficient way to build backlinks in the long run.”
ABM and nostalgia marketing
This makes us wonder, will looking back to the past play a more prominent role in marketing than we think?
“Nostalgia marketing has become an increasingly relevant tool. It’s going to play a big part in more genuine marketing. Companies will benefit more from cultural trends, and by reintroducing a discontinued product or service their buyers have long missed.”
“Nostalgia is familiar, reliable, and encouraging, which is precisely what our world needs now and in the future of 2022. Using this approach will help marketers adjust to a digitally focused market with more personalised content to better reach their TAM in 2022.”
This isn’t the only tactic that’s predicted to come into play next year. B2B experts, like Sam Wright and Jonas van de Poel, believe that account-based marketing will resurge due to new tech and the changing landscape.
“I think more and more B2B businesses will dip their toe in the ABM pool in 2022. By finding new and unique ways to blend your inbound lead generation campaigns with ABM, you can create a more efficient funnel and convert your most valuable prospects.”
“B2B businesses with larger than average deal sizes and customer value will include ABM strategies in the coming year’s marketing plans. Complex buying committees simply won’t convert when these companies employ traditional spray and pray marketing.”
“There are some smart growth tactics that can help B2B companies practice account-based marketing without breaking the bank. However, it will be crucial to have sales, marketing, and even customer service teams fully aligned for these to work.”
“My advice is to get invested in RevOps, and start creating those laser cut out ICPs if you want to ace it in 2022.”
2. New hires
With new strategies come new hires.
“The rise of the subject-matter expert sitting within the marketing team is such an interesting role. I see it as the key to scaling the quality and consistency of content that’s required to win today in dark social channels.”
A big factor in dark social and the dark funnel is community. With such a big focus on demand marketing going forward, a subject-matter expert won’t be the only new hire to come into play next year.
B2B marketing writer and speaker Jason Bradwell says:
“We’re starting to see more and more B2B brands hire for community-focused roles and launch their own digital forums as tools to deliver a steady drumbeat of value 24/7, 365-days a year. Juro and Spendesk are two great examples.”
“So, expect to see more organisations following in their footsteps and experimenting with keeping top-of-mind with out-of-market customers."
“The sales process needs to be redesigned. Thus, 20% of B2B companies will merge or align sales and marketing teams. The new generation of growth marketers is most likely to shape how success is determined, sought, and assessed in 2022.”
And, with any kind of growth, you’re looking at better and more advanced tech. Meaning, you’ll need to hire employees that can use these tools to support your business growth.
“We're going to see an uptick in the recruitment of Chief Marketing Officers and Marketing Managers. Especially those who have proven experience applying new technology or tech in a new way. There's a huge advantage for early adopters, and innovative and forward-thinking companies are looking to stake their claims.”
However, not many marketers are going to want to go back to full-time work. So, there’s likely going to be an influx of freelance hires. Seth Winterer explains:
“After the great resignation of 2021, a lot of talented marketers that used to be in full-time roles are now freelancing full-time. Due to that shift, I expect that we'll see a rise in the hiring of freelancers and part-time hires to fill the gap.”
3. Tech and targets
Less MQLs more revenue
The more you scale, the more tech-savvy your employees and organisation will need to be.
“I see a reduction in marketing teams that are measured on MQLs. Instead, they’ll be measured with a revenue target.”
Jonas van de Poel agrees:
“B2B marketers will focus more on creation and worry less about measuring. Some of the highest quality results in marketing are nearly impossible to measure, and according to recent research, only 5% of B2B buyers are ready to buy now.”
“The remaining 95% will 'largely use their memories, rather than searching' when they are ready to buy. So, your high-quality, less measurable marketing efforts will contribute more to your brand being top of mind when the moment comes than any of your highly measurable ad campaigns.”
“Will 2022 see the death of the MQL? I don't think so. The term "vanity metric" is used more and more. I personally think MQLs are part of the customer journey and shouldn't be overlooked, but aren't and shouldn't be a driving metric either.”
Tech stacks for alignment
No matter which way you look at it, the way we measure performance is changing. Just ask Rishika Patel:
“Since 2015, marketing-sourced metrics have decreased significantly on the CMO dashboard. This shows a misalignment with how companies are expected to deliver value while staying separated from the role marketing plays in achieving business results.”
“To better convey marketing's influence on the revenue engine, pioneering B2B marketers can definitely adopt a new vision of lift-based performance measures.”
“B2B has typically looked at CRO as a landing page effort, and sometimes with freemium products, there is a product experimentation motion.”
“Barriers are being broken down, and organisations are creating experimentation teams to work across organisations and build experimentation into every team and digital function.”
This means rethinking your tech stacks; Rishika told us:
“B2B marketers may turn to more complicated tech stacks that utilise autonomous or automated solutions. But, our overall buyer understanding needs improvement or 75% of efforts to establish automated, tailored interaction may fail to fulfil ROI targets.”
“Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms will be crucial in 2022 for staying competitive and keeping up with marketing trends.”
“A CRM platform can automate email campaigns effectively. It's incredible how all of these trending technologies and marketing approaches are interconnected.”
“Additionally, CRM platforms are great for generating new leads for your marketing and sales efforts to boost customer retention.”
The rise of AI
Sam Wright adds his thoughts to boosting customer relationships and retention:
“I think there will be an increase in the use of conversational marketing techniques and the use of chatbots. This will help businesses collect data, qualify leads and connect them to sales teams in an increasingly seamless fashion.”
And Sam isn’t the only marketing leader who sees an upwards trend in chatbot use.
Tim Clarke sees marketing campaigns becoming more effective thanks to innovative technology like chatbots and AI:
“Optimising for new types of search - such as image and audio - may be vital to capture traffic in 2022. With the help of AI and marketing chatbots, marketers can reach more customers and reduce prospect waiting time.”
“VR and AR are upping the marketing game while chatbots are the next big thing. They allow customers to place orders and resolve other issues while eliminating the need for calling, emailing or filling out forms.”
“What’s more, they provide a quick solution to your customers’ problems, promoting a seamless experience with your brand. And, for that, this technology has huge potential. I believe we’ll see more and more brands experimenting with it in 2020.”
All this talk makes us wonder how much of an impact the move to Web 3.0 will have on B2B marketing. After all, Gary Vee has already jumped on an NFT community.
Do we expect anything less from a man who prides himself on spotting underpriced attention?
Of course not!
But, this has been on Ruthie Bowles’ mind too, as she explains:
“I believe we're going to see a continuation of the metaverse craze into 2022. While much of what's discussed has been about B2C marketing, B2B and B2G companies are exploring how the extended reality (XR) tech (like virtual and augmented reality) can help them satisfy their customers' and clients' needs.”
“Just like when many companies explored how they could enhance the client/customer experience through mobile apps, they'll also look at the new marketing opportunities that XR can bring to the table.”
“I'm especially looking forward to seeing how B2B companies get creative with their marketing in the metaverse!”
4. The impact of the pandemic
The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced marketers to re-look at the way they work.
From office spaces to internal processes and events.
Is this set to change anytime soon?
Not likely, according to Digital and Social Media Marketing Specialist, Tom Basgil:
“Even after the pandemic eases, B2B marketers will continue to offer hybrid in-person and online events. The result: increased attendance with the potential for reallocating some of our event budgets to other initiatives.”
We've grown accustomed to having a bit more freedom with our budgets and this has led to a completely new outlook on the events market. Paige Arnof-Fenn explains:
“Industries that once relied on the event calendar as the core of their planned marketing activity have taken a giant digital leap forward since the pandemic began.”
“Online content-led alternatives have filled the gap, and budgets that were formerly assigned to event exhibition costs have been redirected to other avenues such as content and inbound marketing etc.”
“Events will no longer be about the volume of attendees but rather the quality of those who attend because people have become pickier about how they choose to spend their time.”
Jason Bradwell agrees:
“I fully expect B2B marketers to continue to allocate the majority of their budget to ‘owned’ channels and be far more selective around which trade shows they decide to invest in.”
“Despite events returning to somewhat pre-pandemic levels in 2022, I think most B2B organisations have realised that they can stretch their marketing dollars further (and generally get better results) by investing in ‘owning’ an audience versus simply renting one.”
It's not just events that have been impacted by the pandemic. Consumers are starting to spend more and more time on their mobiles now that remote-working has become normalised.
Tristan Harris says:
“B2B marketing efforts will continue to be dominated by mobile and digital advertising until 2022. At the same time, marketers are also adjusting to a work-from-home reality. Around 60% of B2B consumers and controlling buyers prefer remote or digital interactions with vendors.”
The move to a mobile-first digital landscape means that consumers rely more and more on visuals to create an impact.
“As more people shifted online during the pandemic, live streams were used to host public events and meetings on platforms like Twitch.”
“With the rise of a generation that would rather watch something versus read, platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok have gained popularity.”
“Due to this, visual content including pictures and videos, memes, infographics etc. will be a growing trend.”
5. Brand building
Of course, with all of the new tech and strategies, there’s going to be a lot of noise you as a seller will need to stand out from.
“Globalization and the growth of digital have substantially increased the number of businesses vying for a B2B purchaser's attention. Therefore, finding ways to stand out from the noise and focus on your brand and voice will be crucial.”
Brand awareness is one way that stands out.
And virtual platforms like hosted webinars can help you achieve better brand awareness in the form of a Master Class:
“You can expect the Master Class to make a big splash in 2022. In every industry, subject-matter experts will be dropping insider knowledge behind gated sections of their site or subscriptions. You can anticipate many to surface from January to March, encouraging businesses to tap in early alongside their annual goals and budgets.”
You’re going to want to spend a lot of time focusing on how you can get more value in front of your audiences. Jason Bradwell:
“We’re going to see the marketing pendulum start to swing back to ‘brand’ as B2B companies try to find a better balance in offsetting the difficulties that come with over-investing in short-term lead generation.”
“There will be more tolerance from the C-suite to invest in longer-term, creatively-rich campaigns across new channels and lead sources - where buyers are ACTUALLY spending their time.”
Buyers are predicted to spend even more time on streaming platforms that offer podcasts.
Making podcasts the top priority for many in 2022. Christoph Trappe, Director of Content Strategy at Voxpopme, says:
“Live streaming, podcasting and content strategy will be taken up a notch by B2B companies. Good content, and well-branded podcasts, are a differentiator and more B2B companies are already jumping on the bandwagon. And then why not live stream your podcast to reach even more people?”
“I advise you to interview experts, internal and external, as well as customers and prospects on topics that your target audience cares about. Then turn that into even more content on your blog and social media. It helps build and grow relationships while also getting great content for SEO.”
Alex Birkett adds:
“I see podcasting becoming a big part of sales development. ABM is the magic word, but no one knows how to do it.”
“The proliferation of podcasts is leading to the first conversational touchpoints for a prospect being a podcast conversation. It brings people into your brand's universe, is a warm touchpoint, and gives value to the prospect. It differs so much from cold outreach.”
Podcasts are set to work hand in hand with storytelling as Seth Winterer explains:
“In 2022, B2B marketers will realise the power of having a point of view and creating a narrative around their brand. While competitors are simply creating keyword-focused content and trying to battle it out for SEO rankings, smart marketers will be creating storylines that make them stand out from the crowd.”
Another way to stand out in 2022 is by encouraging your employees to build their own personal brands on social.
This will lead to more and more in-house thought leaders doing big things for their organisations.
“More companies are going to encourage their C-suite to engage in personal branding. This elevates the personal platform of the company leader while having a positive effect on the company as well.”
“Reach for company pages has never been lower across most platforms, especially LinkedIn. But we know that personal profiles get a lot more reach. However, we know what it looks like when companies try to force their employees to post.”
“It comes across as inauthentic and stiff. Helping the company leadership embrace their personal brand is a wonderful thing for all parties.”
However, with brand awareness and personal branding, many companies will need to be more vocal about sustainably and social responsibility. Tom Basgil says:
“B2C organisations have seen a shift in the past two years from consumers demanding a stance on social issues. That increased consumer consciousness is coming to B2B, and smart marketers will start dialling up CSR efforts next year.”
But all in all, Catherine Maheux-Rochette puts it best when she says listen to your buyers:
“I think 2022 will be the year we finally start listening to our customers. No marketer can afford to be complacent, and we will need customer feedback more than ever to plan our next moves. The fasted growing brands are those with top-notch customer experience, and marketing has to be part of that experience.”
6. Taking a page out of B2C
Tom Basgil mentioned a shift in B2C that’s slowly starting to seep into B2B marketing.
We foresee B2C influencing the way we do marketing much more next year.
For starters, B2C brands have very strong communities, and many of their customers want responses as soon as possible. Something B2B's digital strategy is edging ever closer to.
Amanda Thomas says:
“B2B buyers will continue to behave more like B2C buyers. As a new generation of workers rise within companies, expect to see buyers’ expectations shifting too. In traditional and industrial B2B organisations, buyers may not tolerate offline or complicated sales processes.”
“They're looking for user-centric self-service experiences where they are firmly in the driver's seat. B2B marketing needs to adapt to ensure the self-driven users are supported along every phase of the marketing funnel.”
Hamna Amjad is in complete agreement:
“Nowadays, consumers want a one-to-one, real-time connection with the brands. When consumers have a question, 82% want an “immediate” response. Brands need to engage with the customers on their terms, channels, platforms, and time schedules. Conversational marketing can help you enhance your user experience and foster higher engagement and greater loyalty.”
This tactic will assist in brand building and community. Jonas van de Poel adds:
“B2B businesses need to build their brands and owned audience through the creation of communities. Doing so successfully means framing your community as a place of education and expertise.”
“Thriving communities are tangential to your brand. KPIs to focus on include member growth, but also: engagement not from you or your colleagues.”
The key trend that will impact B2B going forward is a rise in influencer marketing. Stewart McGrenary, Director of Freedom Mobiles, says:
“YouTube influencer marketing is one trend that will most likely survive in the long run. Video content creators with many subscribers are seen as credible sources, which makes them powerful when endorsing products or services on their channels.”
“So if you want your business's work done for good visibility purposes, then look no further than these high-influential individuals!”
However, with all marketing, there’s a wrong and a right way to stay ahead of this trend. Paige Arnof-Fenn offers her advice:
“The future of successful influencer marketing is to utilise a mix of influencer types. Instead of focusing on the most popular individual influencers, include internal experts, micro-influencers, niche experts and customers in the influencer marketing mix.”
“Getting multiple perspectives and insights always enriches the discussion and generates more activity online. Content, products or designs co-created by the brand and influencers from the very beginning will thrive in 2022.”
“Just keep in mind, it shouldn’t feel like a paid opportunity. You want to give them the freedom to create their own content, but ensure it’s still getting your message across.”
From the discussion above, we can safely say B2B marketing in 2022 won’t be anything like what came before it!
- A large-scale move to demand marketing, the dark funnel, and measuring revenue targets rather than MQLs.
- The adoption of channels with the most underpriced attention, such as TikTok and LinkedIn.
- More personalised content built with distribution and the customer in mind.
- The invention of new roles to suit your business goals.
- Preparing to move into Web 3.0 with more AI/VR strategies.
- More focus on brand awareness over demand generation.
- A whole new world of tech-savvy, hybrid events.
- The utilisation of B2C tactics for B2B, such as influencer marketing.
No matter which direction 2022 goes in, embracing these tactics will undoubtedly help you scale and set you apart from your competition.
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