1. Digital acceleration
The events of 2020 have accelerated user demand for digital and digital consumption. But this trend isn’t new; it’s been building for years due largely to the generational shift in the workforce and the rapid pace of change brought on by technological advancement.
With that in mind, 2021 will likely see the majority of B2B organisations (who haven’t already) adopted a truly digital-centric marketing and sales philosophy.
Here’s what this acceleration might look like:
It’s estimated that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic—15 times higher than it was in 2017. B2B buyers are seeking video content at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Product or service demos, tutorials and client success stories are some examples of bite-sized videos B2B marketers should consider investing in.
With the sudden and dramatic halt to face-to-face engagement, virtual events became the instantaneous replacement. Based on the findings from our recent report, Generating Face-to-Face Engagement, Virtually, 98% of marketers will continue offering virtual engagement once restrictions lift.
In 2021, expect the evolution of virtual events to become more hybrid in nature, bringing a broadcast-like quality to the format. Adobe MAX conference is just one example of what this production quality looks like.
SEO & SEM
About 64% of marketers invest time in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We’ve have been going on about it for a while; it’s hardly new. But with the increase in digital consumption, B2B marketers are set to invest more heavily in SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). There is, and will continue to be, a growing emphasis on semantic search, search intent and voice search. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently said that 1 in every 5 searches made with a Google android app in the US is a voice search. It’s anticipated that by 2021, at least half of all searches will be made via voice query.
3. Agile marketing
The events of 2020 have pushed marketers to consider the benefits of adopting an agile approach. At its core, agile marketing runs on the “80%” rule—valuing speed to market with ongoing optimisation, over waiting to perfect an initiative before rolling it out. 85% of marketers plan to increase agile usage in the next two years.
Here are two ways an agile approach will impact B2B marketing in 2021:
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, 59% of consumers say they care more about the customer experience when deciding what company to support or buy from, meaning customer experience will dictate purchasing in 2021. Customer-centricity goes beyond customer experience (CX) initiatives. An agile mindset will drive marketers to make the customer an integral influence in planning, processes, products, services, marketing and sales activities. Customer-centricity will transform marketing from an inside-out approach to an outside-in approach.
Today’s market demands agility from organisations who want to continue thriving despite turbulent times. This means reacting rapidly to customers’ needs or making sudden operational and marketing changes. Agile thinking encourages B2B marketers not to fear trying something that might fail in order to achieve growth and success.
4. Account-based marketing 2.0
ABM is now a fundamental way to transform customer success, sales, and marketing teams into full-funnel revenue generators. However, in 2020, 8% of organisations were still in ABM pilot mode while 43% were in the early stages of implementation. In 2021, ABM is set to become the dominant strategy for leading B2B companies.
Here are the ABM trends to look out for:
Revenue, not leads
The economic impact of Covid-19 has resulted in a shift from attracting leads to generating revenue. As budgets tighten, the revenue focus of companies has moved to customer-oriented programs aimed at protecting the existing revenue base. If you haven’t already, investing in ABM is a must for 2021.
By aligning sales and marketing teams through ABM, companies experience a 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. ABM isn’t just for new customer acquisition, it’s a way to drive customer retention. Marketers know that it takes more effort and budget to acquire a new customer than it is to nurture and retain an existing one. ABM strategies can be leveraged to engage existing customers on their buyer journey, with personalised outreach along the way.
Sales & marketing integration
ABM forces marketing and sales to be integrated, not simply aligned. The “land and expand” mentality of ABM strategies requires internal sales and marketing teams to be integrated, working on ABM initiatives together.
5. Buyer enablement
In a survey of 250 B2B customers, 77% rated their purchase experience as extremely complex or difficult. B2B buyers have changed—and will continue to change— as they now demand more personalised experiences. They are taking back control of their own buyer’s journey.
Buyer enablement is emerging as an antidote to these issues. It helps buyers buy by providing them with the content and support to make good decisions and the buying process easier to navigate.
In 2021, B2B organisations must leverage buyer enablement strategies to get their customer’s attention, earn their trust and ultimately close the sale.
Create buyer-centric content
Understanding how to create content specific to demand generation is the key to augmenting successful content marketing results. Creating content that educates and informs prospects and clients is what content marketing is all about. The goal of content creation is to help buyers make better informed decisions, while also positioning yourself as a true expert, and thus building authority. While buyer profiling is not new, understanding behaviours that make a difference in results is surprisingly lacking. The challenge for 2021 will be to develop a deeper understanding of how buyers think, what they need, and what we need to say to get them to choose us. Understanding what truly motivates the buyer is by far the most important component in creating a content marketing strategy.
In today’s digital-first world, your company’s website is your most valuable marketing asset. And in a buyer-first world, it’s also their most valuable sales tool because it plays an increasingly important role in the buying process. To make your website a robust resource requires a content strategy that focuses on what a buyer is looking to find on your website, not on what your firm wants to put on your website.