Trends in B2B marketing have always evolved and changed to better reflect the market’s behavior. In the past year, businesses have had to rethink popular practices in B2B marketing to keep up with seismic shifts in the global economy caused by the pandemic.
After being forced to innovate rapidly and continuously for more than a year to escape or survive the devastating effects the health crisis had on many businesses, marketers are relying on emerging trends in the B2B space to carry them through to the next stage.
Here, 14 Forbes Agency Council members share their thoughts and predictions on which of these trends will endure beyond this particular moment in history to stand the test of time, and why.
1. Account-Based Marketing
Over the last couple of years, personalization became huge in B2B marketing. Since it’s now possible to collect large amounts of data about leads and customers, the expectations consumers have of your B2B offers are high. So, I think that account-based marketing is one of those trends that will most likely stand the test of time. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
2. The Art Of Relationship-Building
Anyone can shoot a text, host a Zoom or send an email; however, the art of taking time to build a relationship provides a foundation for the future. Think about it: When was the last time you spent meaningful time in person with a prospect to learn more about their business needs? This type of conversation is impactful. – Robin Derryberry, Derryberry PR
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is here to stay. AI aids marketers by providing key insights that help them develop personalized content and optimize for SEO, and it can also be used for other tasks, such as analyzing data points and improving automation features to generate quality leads and conversions. AI integration is critically important to B2B marketing, and its uses will only grow from here. – Evan Nison, NisonCo
4. Intent Monitoring
Intent monitoring is taking off in B2B marketing, and our team thinks it’s here to stay. Here’s why: Instead of trying to make people want what you offer, it shifts the focus to finding the people who already want it. With more B2B buying moving online, purchase intent signals allow marketers to gain data insights into businesses that are in-market for their solutions now. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
5. Sharing Your Story
Whether it’s from hearing you on a podcast, in publicity or through a promotional campaign, people always buy from people, not from companies. The rise of people posting on social media such as LinkedIn and business owners getting their stories out there in the press are two booming trends that I don’t see ever slowing down. The concept will remain the same, but platforms will evolve over time. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR
6. Creative Strategic Partnerships
Looking for more creative ways to work with other businesses through strategic partnerships helps businesses with different but complementary services support each other. This forges an alliance while still maintaining independence, and it keeps your customer’s best interest at heart. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
7. Audience Targeting On LinkedIn
Audience targeting has undergone disruptive changes over the last several years due to an explosion of channels. While some of these channels will stand the test of time, others will not. Unless the leaders of LinkedIn do something really counterproductive, I predict LinkedIn will remain a solid B2B channel for many years to come. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group
8. YouTube Influencer Marketing
YouTube influencer marketing is one trend that is bound to survive in the long run. B2B marketing needs more power to convince, and video content creators with a large number of subscribers earn immense credibility. When they vouch for your product or service in one of their videos, not only is your work of driving leads in large quantities done, but they are also already halfway convinced when they come to you. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team
9. Bylined Contributed Articles
Bylined contributed articles skyrocketed in popularity in the past two years—thanks, in large part, to pandemic-fueled layoffs and furloughs in the media. Given that publicists and brands have adapted to this, as well as how much free content these articles now provide the media, I don’t anticipate this trend reversing. Any B2B company should be consistently writing and pitching bylined articles to the press. – April Margulies, Trust Relations
10. Human-To-Human Marketing
There is a push to view B2B marketing as human-to-human marketing. We’ve shifted away from benefits-focused, product-based marketing to values-focused, attraction-based marketing because we finally realize employees and owners buying products and services for their businesses are people too. This is a move that will stand the test of time, even as technology ushers in one-to-one marketing. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
11. The Use Of Influencers With Expertise
The use of influencers in B2B marketing is likely to stick around for a long time. Professionals respect the opinions and perspectives of their peers, making influencer marketing in the B2B space highly valuable. Because B2B influencers build a following through their expertise, it’s likely that the life cycle of content generated from these relationships will last longer than that of B2C influencers. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures
12. Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization is a practice that is gaining notoriety, and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The fact is, as automation becomes a greater part of the marketing process when it comes to testing and choosing “winners,” the strategic and creative approach required to test conversion elements—especially for B2B brands—will still rely on the “human element.” – Bernard May, National Positions
13. More Innovative Ways Of Collaborating
For the longest time, B2B was rooted in networks and connections, and social distancing has pushed this practice toward digital. Even in a post-Covid world, people will be reluctant to enter in-person work environments, so we still need innovative ways to collaborate beyond virtual meetings. – Albert Moufarrij, MACH9
14. B2C-Like Experiential Marketing
In recent years, experiential marketing has slowly been straying from its B2C roots into B2B territory. Whether it is through digital and product journeys or physical installations, a need to stand out in an increasingly competitive battle for mindshare is likely to continue driving the trend toward unique, memorable experiences for years to come. – Chris Martin, FlexMR