Director, Content Marketing
Way back at the beginning of 2022, we encouraged businesses to focus on "thriving.” While optimism among businesses may have cooled off a little over the last 12 months, we don’t need to freeze our marketing efforts and hibernate. Think of 2023 as the year to keep up the momentum from all your team’s efforts in 2022.
Here are five B2B marketing trends that will help small businesses everywhere excel with this year’s mantra: retain and maintain.
1. Engaging, thoughtful content from your leader(s)
In the ongoing quest to retain your current customers and win new ones, magnifying your leaders’ voices through thought leadership content is crucial. Unless your B2B company is incredibly niche, it’s likely that your market is becoming more and more saturated with competitors. When it comes to building your brand reputation, showcasing the unique voice and perspective of your organization’s leaders with thoughtful content in blog articles and social posts will help set you apart.
Your CEO doesn’t need to be the next Stephen King … but they likely have some wise insights and opinions that should be shared far and wide. Grab the attention of your B2B readers with your organization’s take on pushing-the-envelope topics – helping make B2B content marketing interesting and carving out a notable space for your brand. B2B decision-makers may be reading your content during their work hours, but that doesn’t mean you want to bore them to tears with technical-speak and blogs that read like sales pitches.
This year, spend time honing your target audience (through well-developed buyer personas) and a company style guide to take your content marketing to the next level.
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2. Video-centric social media marketing
Just because business consulting isn’t as “sexy” as the latest fashion brand, or your project management software is very niche, doesn’t mean that you can’t explore TikTok (ahem, if it's still legal, that is) and other video-centric social media strategies. Repeat after us: Your B2B audience doesn’t want to be bored by your brand’s content. It may be hard to picture, but business leaders and decision-makers scroll through their phones in bed just like the rest of us.
While the most baffling videos seem to go viral, a B2B marketer shouldn’t set out with the expectation of creating the next sensation. A creation may get eyeballs for all the wrong reasons if you try too hard to be edgy. First, make sure that your target audience actually uses the platform you’re creating video content for. If your boomer CEO buyers aren’t on TikTok (check the user demographics here), consider creating YouTube longer-form videos instead and posting curated 30-second snippets on your LinkedIn account.
Check whether TikTok is a fit for your target audience (Source: Exploding Topics)
Make the most of your video marketing by reusing it whenever you can. For example, embed relevant video content on landing pages and in blogs. After all, adding rich media to content on your website increases its appeal to search engines like Google.
3. Data-driven initiatives
In a year where budgets and resources may be under lock and key, B2B small business marketers must back up their marketing decisions with data. Senior leaders may be hesitant to green-light new initiatives without proof that it will contribute toward achieving company-wide KPIs.
Say your company wants to build up its sales pipeline, focus your metrics on the number of form fills and booked sales calls your content marketing, email marketing and social media CTAs garner. If senior leaders are more interested in increasing brand recognition, track the search rankings of your most popular blog articles each month. Monitor your website performance and prepare to do more of what works and tweak areas that need improving.
Reminder: 2023 will see the sunsetting of Google’s Universal Analytics, so make sure you’re ready to move to Google Analytics 4.
4. Focus on first-party data
First-party data — or customer information your organization collects with consumer permission through form fills, surveys and Google Analytics, among other methods — is more accurate than third-party data. And when you use first-party data to inform your ad strategy, it creates twice as much revenue compared to third-party data. Plus, with Google phasing out cookies in 2024 and global privacy laws becoming stricter by the year (as shown in the graphic below), it makes both legal and fiscal sense to pivot your efforts towards first-party data.
Map of privacy legislation around the world (Source: Secuvy)
The more targeted your ads and email marketing are, the more personalized your content will be while avoiding questions or issues surrounding your third-party data collection practices. In 2023, expect hyper-personalization to play a pivotal role in reducing customer churn. In the constant battle to ward off competitors and retain your hard-fought customers, first-party data will allow you to target existing customers with the exact promotions and customer engagement opportunities to retain their business and keep them engaged.
5. Artificial intelligence in marketing
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of dystopian movie plots. The technology is quickly making its way into business practices. It’s even becoming accessible to businesses with small marketing budgets. AI can cut costs by acting as customer service chatbots, automating email marketing, and suggesting similar products and additional content that may appeal to repeat viewers or customers.
B2B companies can leverage AI across all stages of the B2B buyer’s journey, and it’s especially helpful in reengaging past customers or prospects. If you follow the Pareto Principle, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your selling efforts—making customer retention incredibly important to help retain your most loyal customers over time. Marketing and sales automation — which often incorporates AI into its software — can stretch the reach of your sales and customer support teams, freeing them to work on value-add tasks while these platforms take care of the more mundane tasks.
Don’t be so dazzled by AI, though, that your marketing team overuses it. Certain processes are best left to experts of the human variety.
Keep up your 2022 progress
“Retain and maintain” may not be the sexiest motto to guide your B2B marketing strategy in the new year, sure. But if it gets you through 2023 safely and keeps up the momentum you built in 2022, it’s a philosophy worth sticking with. Where you can flash your business prowess is how you engage your existing customers and recession-proof your small business.
Hop aboard these B2B marketing trends and cheers to a successful new year! We’ll see you on the other side.