Not too long ago, people around the world raised their glasses to ring in a new (and hopefully less eventful) year ahead. While the proposed trajectory of 2021 certainly looks more hopeful, the spectre of 2020 still looms large.

For B2B tech marketers, the challenges brought about by the global pandemic have – for want of a better word – matured. Uncertainties around new and emerging issues like Zoom fatigue, changes in customer behaviour and the growing demand for hyperpersonalised experiences are now all too real. The race to overcome these challenges and meaningfully connect with digital audiences is still on.

how to generate new leads online in 2021

Talking to B2B Marketing recently, Product Strategy Leader Adam Leslie argued that CMOs are seeing “a shift towards quality over quantity as we move into a post-Covid-19 world.”

And so, in a landscape where digital fatigue is a problem, CMOs are tasked with finding creative solutions to engage prospects virtually, and measuring the right KPIs in order to track the quality and relevance of their marketing outreach.

Here, we’ll demonstrate how B2B tech marketers are overcoming these challenges by using empathy to create a more human-centred digital marketing strategy. We’ll do this by highlighting the top three main channels for B2B marketing success in 2021.

Give SEO the attention it needs

It’s reported that 39% of B2B tech marketers feel that SEO has increased in importance since March last year, making it one of the most popular channels for the year ahead.

When business came to a (brief) halt at the start of the pandemic, it provided an opportunity for marketers to turn to more general non-campaign related tasks, such as updating – or getting up to date with – content and revisiting SEO strategies. Those ‘nice-to-haves/do-later’ tasks were finally taking priority on the checklist.

SEO is one of the most effective marketing channels – but you already knew that. What you may have forgotten, however, is just how much attention it needs to start delivering ROI and helping you measure KPIs.

To do it right, it might be worth investing in a dedicated SEO person that knows what they’re doing. While this calls for a big initial investment of time and resources, once you’ve got your digital marketing strategy optimised, you can reap consistent rewards with minimal upkeep.

Content that clicks

With 2.14 billion people worldwide expected to buy goods and services online in 2021, there’s more online noise than ever before. To cut through it, and to help your SEO strategy really take off, your content needs to click with clients and customers. It’s the only way to ensure they’ll click through to your website.

If your content and SEO strategy are optimised to drive users to your organisation’s channels, organic search can be a big driver of awareness, engagement and lead generation.

Email marketing for the digital buyer

There are 4.1 billion active email accounts in the world right now. It’s no surprise, then, that the ‘legacy’ marketing tactic that is email will remain the primary way for B2B marketers to nurture their audience.

Millennials and Gen Z prefer communications from businesses to come via email, and as they rise into the upper ranks of workforces, they’ll be the B2B buyers you’re trying to reach.

According to McKinsey, email marketing trends in the year ahead will be driven by the K-shaped recovery from the pandemic that has seen some companies excel while others continue to struggle. The focus for companies that have done well – including tech providers – will be on better personalisation, segmentation, and automation.

K-shaped recovery

A K-shaped recovery occurs after a recession, when different parts of the economy recover at different rates, times, or magnitudes. This contrasts with an even, uniform recovery across sectors and industries.

This type of recovery is called “K-shaped” because the paths of different parts of the economy when charted together may diverge, resembling the two arms of the Roman letter “K.”

Other industries will take a different approach. These organisations will focus first on shifting from traditional email templates to modular email architectures to decrease the time it takes to create an email campaign and increase engagement rates.

As such, there’s no longer a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to managing a company’s email marketing. Success rests on understanding where you are in your recovery and tailoring your email marketing strategy to your business’s size, sector and digital maturity.

Boost your CX

Due to the global pandemic, more people have moved online than ever before – and customer experience (CX) has been forever altered because of it. The quality – and quantity – of your marketing output is key.

For some shoppers, online purchases might be a first. For others, it’s an already-adopted buying practice. Either way, consider how you can help customers navigate the process as efficiently as possible with these CX boosters:

a) Provide a link to immediately open support chat

b) Offer website navigation tips

c) Answer FAQs regarding purchasing your products/services online

Empathy as the future of experience

65% of B2B tech marketers are looking to increase their use of marketing technology in 2021 – and this will likely involve using AI and automation to tap into customer psychology.

Customer empathy will be used as a differentiator with brands demonstrating knowledge of their customers and the unique ways they can serve them.

Consideration of customers’ psychological states has been emphasised during the pandemic, but marketers know that customer journeys have always been emotional, even in B2B. There are points of friction wherever there is a decision to be made, which can manifest anything from hope to excitement, or from anxiety to concern. Analysing and adapting to the customer’s emotional journey is the next evolution of experience management.

As we discussed earlier, in a vast sea of digital communication, clients and customers are seeking out authentic and relevant content – and B2B tech marketers will need to deliver.

Analytics + Email Marketing = Triggered Hyper-Personalised Email Campaigns

This is the perfect formula for a successful email marketing automation strategy; it blends hard data with empathy and will be one of the major email marketing trends for 2021. Consider these three email automation techniques:

Onboarding email series

Email marketing experts found that creating a short onboarding email series is not only an effective way of welcoming new subscribers but sets expectations and boosts engagement rates. Show that you understand your clients, and that you’re products and services were made with them in mind.

Confirmation emails

Seize the momentum of a recent purchase, subscription or inquiry and present clients with content that’s tailored to their needs. Confirmation email open and click-through rates are eight times higher compared to any other email and can generate up to six times more revenue.

Milestone emails

With milestone emails that celebrate, for instance, how long a client’s been a customer, email marketers can leverage personalisation by offering highly relevant content, new product suggestions or simply a chance to check-in and ask whether you could be of service,

The future is human

The unprecedented events of 2020 reinforced the importance of a customer-first approach. That’s why each of the above – SEO, email marketing, and hyperpersonalisation – all have one thing in common: empathy.

By listening, understanding and responding to the wants and needs of your customers and clients, you can establish a B2B tech marketing strategy that can help you generate new leads online in 2021.

Start generating new digital leads today


At Chief Nation, we understand the value of developing strong and lasting human connections in business and in life. That’s why we’ve established our Digital to Human™ marketing approach. To find out more about how we turn digital connections into human relationships, explore our range of services today or get in touch to speak with a member of our team directly.