The marketing journey B2B brands have been on since the start of pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and the transformation of marketing faster than any time in history.
During uncertain times the pivots companies make often settle back into the status quo but this time it’s different. According to research from McKinsey:
- 96% of B2B companies shifted their go-to-market model during Covid-19
- 65% say their new go-to-market models were equally or more effective in reaching customers
- 80% will continue new go-to-market models for 12 months or more
And with Gartner reporting that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025, the direction is clear: digital first is here to stay for B2B marketing.
So how can B2B marketers make sure they are positioned for digital first marketing in 2022? Most B2B marketers have already made the shift towards go to market efforts that emphasize online experiences including virtual events, increased focus on social media, content, SEO and video formats including livestreaming and episodic content.
Here’s how Bhawna Sharma, Worldwide senior partner marketing manager at Google Cloud sees it (CMSWire):
“My focus will be to gain buyer mindshare via small yet effective tactics such as hyper-personalization (think account-based marketing); succinct video and audio content (under 18 minutes), mobile ads for on-the-go users, page speed for better digital experience, chatbots for engagement, voice search for the multi-taskers; and influencer programs (think niche marketing) as a middle of the funnel educational and entertainment tactic.”
Optimizing buyer experiences through digital channels means empathizing with buyers of course and understanding their expectations in terms of information discovery, consumption and engagement, an approach we’ve advocated and implemented for our B2B clients for over 10 years. So what’s different in 2022?
Over the past 2 years many marketing departments have been held to a higher standard will fewer resources which has pros and cons. Of course the pro is that increased pressure to perform means more accountability for marketing investments. The con is that overemphasis on ROI can cut out innovation and the breathing room that marketing sometimes needs in uncertain times to adapt, evolve and innovate to the new normal. The best of both can come from a focus on marketing experiences. “Organizations can break out of their efficiency-first mindsets to elevate the experiences of their customers, workforces, and business partners” Deloitte
When you look across the customer lifecycle from awareness to conversion to retention and advocacy, there are many opportunities to optimize the experiences brands deliver for customers. For B2B marketers that want to maintain high levels of accountability for marketing investments while also creating maximum value for marketing experiences, there are few opportunities like those provided from an integrated approach to content, influence and search.
Influence & Trust Drive B2B Content Experiences
What are those influences on content credibility and experience? According to recent research reported in the Demand Gen Content Preferences Report the major trends affecting B2B content effectiveness include:
- 44% Trustworthiness of the source
- 40% Credible content from industry influencers
- 38% Shorter formats
- 35% On-demand Interactive content
- 32% Mobile-optimized content
- 32% Peer-recommended content
The sheer volume of content being produced in digital channels means B2B brands need to stand out and earn the trust of their audiences. Being the best answer for the topics customers care about with content marketing is a big part of the credibility and utility needed to build that trust. But what puts brands like Mitel over the top is adding the respected and authentic voices of recognized industry experts to brand content.
Search and Content Experience
As B2B brands create content in formats that are more digital first, search will continue to play an essential role in how buyers discover the kinds of information they need as they pull themselves through the journey from awareness to consideration to decision. The experience buyers have on that information journey is what sets one brand apart from another. As shared on CMSWire, “The nature of search will increasingly move towards voice, visual and video search, supported by growing investments in text, audio and video content experiences designed to educate and engage throughout the customer journey.”
As B2B brands focus on creating digital first content that is more in line with digital first expectations, they will also continue to optimize the discovery of that content through SEO integration and the credibility of that content by incorporating industry and internal experts.
To learn more about integrating content, search and influence to become the best answer for your digital first customers, be sure to check out this case study featuring Mitel or check out this free webinar, How to Accelerate B2B Marketing Results by Working with Influencers.