What are the priority actions?
As if the world was not changing fast enough, the Coronavirus crisis has given a boost to marketing practices in B2B. SMEs and VSEs, some of which were just beginning their digital transition, were forced to adopt new strategies, especially digital marketing.
Finding customers without being able to walk face to face is for many companies much more difficult than running a marathon.
Don’t sink in 2020: check .
Now, how do we take off in 2021?
Entrepreneurs are combative. Like many of them, you’ve probably watched hours of webinars to discover marketing techniques you haven’t deployed, you’ve read blogs, and maybe even watched Youtube. Maybe you’ve even taken up podcasting? They’re all great ideas, but there are just… too many of them!
For a clearer vision, we’ve listed here the b2b marketing trends to follow in 2021.
What are the marketing trends for 2021 in B2B?
The digital customer journey
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telework. Distance selling is more important than ever. If they haven’t already, it’s time to move from traditional, offline strategies to more modern digital tactics.
It’s no longer a question of whether distance selling would be a good idea.
Actions you can take :
- rethink a prospect’s path to becoming a customer
- implement a social selling strategy
- share relevant content
This means learning how to rely more on data to drive highly targeted campaigns and deliver personalized customer experiences.
In the most advanced marketing automation systems, data can be used to adjust and optimize workflows and to model how content and data are managed throughout the customer journey.
ABM (account-based marketing)
We were already talking about it last year, ABM remains more than ever a marketing tactic to be favored for B2B.
ABM consists in targeting a small number of high-potential accounts by personalizing interactions with decision-makers as much as possible.
This requires :
- a thorough knowledge of your client target and its persona
- to identify the key contacts in the targeted companies
- to set up digital approach actions (email, social media, retargeting…)
- to create personalized messages and potential automated or semi-automated
Every salesperson knows it: reselling to a client is easier and less expensive. Yet in recent years, acquiring new customers has been given priority in budgets and marketing actions.
The loyalty strategy is much more refined and complex than it seems. The objective is to sell more products and services to existing customers and also at higher prices and profits.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to an increase in profits of up to 95%.
This should have convinced you 🙂
Most B2B marketers talk a lot about acquisition (including us!) But in 2021, more than ever, loyalty and retention marketing could be a better lever for growth.
To do so, you will need to :
- define or review your offers in order to identify all the upsell and cross-sell possibilities (cross selling) If need be, this is one of our specialties 😉
- communicate in a constant and relevant way with your customers
- rely on feedback and testimonials
AI and bots
Everybody hates bots but almost everybody uses them. These virtual sales assistants now serve the interests of both sellers and buyers. Technology is getting smarter and smarter.
In 2021, this trend, that is already widely adopted by the consumer market, will continue to convert businesses to BtoB to provide buyers with a first level of information.
Globally, 67% of consumers reported using a chatbox support system in the past year.
This tool is used by many industries to answer customers’ questions and help them navigate through a company’s website. An example here with the company Apem, specialized in human-machine interfaces, with a chat allowing to be directed on the website.
The bot is not there to trigger an impulse buy. In BtoB, the chatbot aims to :
- retain the customer on the site to increase his level of discovery or knowledge of the product
- reduce his or her waiting time to get answers to questions he or she may have
- position the company as a brand serving its customers by engaging the conversation
- convert visitors into leads (by making an appointment with a sales representative)
In the world of digital sales, buyers do not all come through the same door. There is not just one entrance. To capture a maximum number of buyers, diversifying the entries, i.e. the marketing channels, is an essential strategy in B2B.
All buyers do not have the same preferences, the same habits or the same level of maturity. Some want to inform themselves with blog articles and white papers, others are in demand for direct interactions on social networks or chatbot, while others still prefer to follow the company through videos, podcasts, etc.
Diversifying the points of contact helps reduce friction. The buyer likes to consume information and exchange with the company through his preferred channel.
The complexity of such a system can be frightening. However, it is possible to keep it relatively simple.
For this, it is necessary :
- to identify the main channels used by the majority of your clients and prospects
- know precisely the preferences and tastes of your prospects according to their level of maturity.
- create digital customer paths
Content and micro-content strategy
As an extension of the previous trend, marketing content has been a trend for more than 5 years now. If you follow the marketing media in the US, content is given for dead.
The content strategy is dead.
Long live the content (and micro-content) strategy.
The real trend is in the evolution of the raw material. We are going to privilege marketing with valuable content against marketing with worthless content.
The idea is to do less but better by focusing on :
- delivering high value to prospects
- delivering content in a variety of formats to accommodate customer and prospect preferences and reduce friction
- using repetition and “recycling” your content by fragmenting it (micro-content)
Brand to Business: making your brand a strong pillar of business
In B2B, marketing strategies are traditionally focused on the product, the sale, the offer and the customer relationship. Tactics that are now showing their limits with a price war and plummeting margins as well as devastating competition in some sectors.
In the current context of uncertainty and economic crisis, customers need more than ever before benchmarks, stability and security. In this environment, a strong brand stands out not only as something different, but above all as a beacon in the storm.
In 2021, B2B companies have interest in investing in the development of their brand :
- by defining a clear and differentiating positioning
- by working on its “why”, but also its legitimacy and authority
At first glance, this highly strategic, almost introspective work seems far removed from the sales and digitalization objectives that are perceived as priorities today.
However, a strong B2B brand is a competitive advantage in many respects including :
- the excellent knowledge of its target buyers allows to define much more persuasive messages
- Advertising costs (PPC in particular) are reduced because budgets are better allocated.
- the brand’s notoriety gives it a stronger legitimacy and to be more often preferred to a less (re)known company
In concrete terms, where do we start?
If you’re still here, you probably don’t really have a clearer idea of what you’re going to implement as a marketing strategy for YOUR company in 2021.
It’s normal: you know the possible solutions but you don’t know where to start.
It’s like going to the pharmacy, seeing all the medications that are available but not knowing which one to take for your problem.