The business-to-business (B2B) marketing industry is constantly evolving. As new technologies and platforms emerge, so do new trends and strategies for marketing to businesses. Marketers must understand where the industry is heading to stay ahead of the curve. This article will discuss the top B2B marketing trends and strategies for 2023. We'll also provide tips on how you can adapt these trends to fit your own business needs.
The Rise of Purpose-Driven Brands
Younger generations have always lived in an information-rich, globalized world, but what's different now is that they also have a voice. They are the first generation to use their buying power to influence the world around them for good—and they are using it.
According to the Cone/Porter Novelli survey, 66% of people said they would switch from a product they always use to one from a purpose-driven company.
Brand purpose is the practice of aligning a company's values with the needs of the world around them. It's about more than just making money; it's about using business as a force for good. A purpose-driven brand knows its why and communicates it in everything they do, from its advertising to its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Most brands are starting to include CSR as part of their brand purpose. CSR is the practice of incorporating social and environmental concerns into a company's business operations and decision-making. It's a way for brands to give back to their communities and positively impact the world.
To appeal to purpose-driven consumers, brands need to be transparent about their CSR initiatives. Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, set the purpose-driven bar by donating his entire $3 billion company to a trust and non-profit organization.
Although your company doesn't have to take things quite that far, you can still implement CSR and purpose by aligning your brand with an important cause. There are many ways to do this, such as through donations, volunteering, or supporting a local charity.
Forrester's B2B 2022 Marketing Survey confirms the purpose-based trend by showing brands planned on aligning purpose with vision, mission, and CSR goals to support high growth in the company.
Better Customer Experiences
Your clients always expect a seamless and personalized experience, no matter the stage of the buyer's journey. That means you shouldn't stop nurturing them once the deal is closed. Customer Experience (CX) has become one of the most significant factors in helping a brand stand apart from its competition. To provide a competitive edge, marketers need to think creatively and use the strengths of all marketing departments in 2023.
Forrester's Priorities Survey from 2022 explains that cross-selling and upselling are already high priorities for improving the customer experience and will continue to be in 2023.
Turning a potential lead into a client is the first part of the customer experience. Now that they have become your client, you can further engage them to help retain and grow existing accounts. Here are some ways B2B Marketers are doing this:
- Personalizing Your Client's Experience. Doing so begins with the data you have about them. Make specific customer personas to create valuable and educational content for each customer and use marketing automation to trigger personalized emails based on your customer's behavior.
- More self-service options. People today have significantly shorter attention spans than those in the past, expecting immediate answers to their questions. Customers would instead handle their issues independently than wait for a customer service rep. So make sure to invest in detailed FAQs, resource centers, and customer education webinars to uplevel their knowledge of your product and resolve their issues with as little friction as possible.
- Offering Online Experiences. Brands are rethinking interactive ways to provide unique virtual experiences adapted to their customers. Think of different ways to delight your top customers. Maybe offer virtual cooking or wine tasting classes, or host a product roadmap webinar, deep dive into the product and give them a chance to voice their needs and ideas for the future.
Creating advocates for your brand is a trend in 2023 that your brand must commit to. Marketing decision makers plan to increase the budget for customer engagement headcount by 10% or more in 2023.
Gifting is the New Customer Retention Strategy
As more of the world moves online, the opportunity to create in-person experiences becomes rarer every year. To accommodate the change, your company must find new ways to connect and retain clients.
One way to create an amazing customer experience is through gifting. Businesses can use gifting to show appreciation, build relationships, and create loyalty. Use gifts creatively in a welcome package or included with the first purchase of an item.
When done right, gifting can significantly impact the customer experience. Coresight Research reported that 35% of respondents were gifting more than usual since remote work.
Loop & Tie, a corporate gifting platform, has created a double opportunity for customer retention by pairing gifting with sustainability. They support craft makers and artisans and donate to land restoration and regenerative agriculture initiatives.
Gifting is also a way to retain employees. Turnover rates have skyrocketed, and The Great Resignation has left many companies understaffed and overworked. The power of a gift to employees can not be understated. The simple act of goodwill can leave a lasting impression on the employee and not only cause them to stay longer, but they will recommend your company to other qualified candidates.
Virtual Events Are Here to Stay
Webinars and virtual events have been commonplace in the work environment for years. It wasn't until people were forced indoors that virtual events really began to take off, and they show no signs of slowing down in 2023.
Different use cases for virtual events have expanded, and so have the reasons why companies are continuing to use them:
- Increased accessibility for a global audience
- Lower cost of production
- Future marketing opportunities
- Promotion of a new service or product
- Environmentally beneficial
Virtual events are here to stay, and environmental sustainability is a big added benefit. According to Forrester, two-thirds of B2B businesses identify environmental sustainability as a high priority in the next 12 months.
By hosting a virtual event, your company can avoid the pollution caused by travel and reduce its carbon footprint. You can also donate to causes that help offset any emissions from the event itself. Lowering the carbon footprint is a key benefit of virtual events for 36% of B2B marketers.
So while the temptation to revert to in-person events might be high, virtual events hold more benefits and will remain a crucial channel for marketing into 2023 and beyond.
Webinars are another marketing tool that have become widely popularized after the pandemic to engage customers and generate leads. While most webinars have followed a rather mundane template, trends show more creative webinar platforms and tools are transforming the experience.
Every aspect of the webinar will be reimagined, from the production to the speaker presentations and attendee experience. Polls, chat, and Q&A have become table stakes engagement features but they're now being redesigned to be even more interactive and immersive. Clickable CTAs in the platform help continue the buyer's journey, and companies are putting more resources into developing tools that can measure ROI accurately and effectively. You want people to show up, but more importantly, you want the webinar to translate into sales and revenue.
Selling with Interactive Demos
Buyer behaviors are changing. Many buyers want to try a tool before buying, but not all software is cut out for PLG motions. Enter interactive demos.
Interactive demos allow your buyer to experience your product or solution without the need to talk to a sales person. Saving the buyer, and the sales person, time. The results have been impressive for companies adopting interactive demo's as part of their marketing strategy- many have seen conversions on their website double, and sales cycle times decrease significantly.
Some interactive demo tools to check out are:
Most of these tools are not expensive and simple to set up within a week. Interactive demos are a no-brainer to add to your marketing strategy especially if your'e trying to improve conversions on your website.
Adoption of the B2B Influencer
Although more popular in the B2C industries, influencers are becoming a more significant part of marketing strategies for B2B companies in 2023.
Influencers can reach new target audiences and create a connection that might not have been possible. They build trust for a company and generate more leads by connecting to a wider market.
The key to a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy is to select an influencer who is knowledgeable about your industry and can speak to the needs of your target audience. Ideally, you should create a long-term relationship with them as your brand ambassador.
It's also important that the influencer has a genuine interest in your company and what you do. The goal is to create interesting and informative content, not a sales pitch in disguise.
Look for influencers with years of experience in their industry or a clear history of success.
A B2B influencer strategy can be highly effective and help you reach your target market more organically.
Leveraging Relationship and Organization Data
2022 was a year of change, and 2023 is no different. Countless organizations are restructuring their teams and thousands of employees are changing jobs making it difficult to know who to target as a prospect for both marketing and sales teams. Furthermore, your own users or champions are switching from company to company causing your marketing and sales teams to leave quick wins on the table simply because it's difficult to monitor, track, and manage all of these changes.
This is where you want to leverage relationship and organization data so you can a) accurately identify who to target and b) take advantage of relationships you’ve built with champions who have moved on to a new company.
In many cases, when leveraging this data and working with previous users or champions, sales cycle times decrease by 12% and deal size increases by 54%. The real trick to executing this strategy though is to actually get accurate data, in a timely manner, to your appropriate teams. This means keeping a CRM that is up to date and accurate with job changes and relationship statuses. You can attempt to track this data manually (and hope for the best), or you can leverage tools specifically designed to help with champion tracking, relationships, and job changes.
AI Marketing is Here
AI Marketing is a significant trend in B2B marketing in 2023. As businesses become more aware of the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform their marketing efforts, tools like ChatGPT are emerging as essential assets for marketers. ChatGPT automates many routine marketing tasks, providing valuable insights and recommendations that enable marketers to focus on more strategic and creative work. Here are some of the ways marketers are using ChatGPT and other AI tools:
- Content Creation: ChatGPT can generate a range of content, such as blog posts, social media posts, video scripts, and even product descriptions. By inputting keywords or topics into ChatGPT, marketers can generate relevant content that can be customized for their specific needs.
- Market Research and Data Analysis: Marketers can input data sets into ChatGPT and ask it to analyze them and provide insights and recommendations for marketing strategies.
- Lead Generation: Marketers use ChatGPT to create chatbots that engage website visitors in conversation and collect lead information, such as contact details or business needs. These chatbots are programmed to ask qualifying questions to identify high-quality leads, which can be passed on to sales teams for follow-up. ChatGPT can also help personalize marketing messaging and content based on individual leads' interests and preferences.
- Email Marketing: Marketers can use ChatGPT for subject line optimization by generating compelling and attention-grabbing subject lines that are more likely to capture the recipient's attention and entice them to open the email.
- Social Media Marketing: ChatGPT can generate unique and engaging social media posts that align with a business's brand and marketing goals. It can also help with social media monitoring and engagement, enabling marketers to keep track of brand mentions and customer feedback and respond to inquiries and comments promptly.
- Search Engine Optimization: ChatGPT can help with keyword research, website content optimization, and link-building strategies, such as identifying high-authority websites for outreach and guest posting opportunities.
AI tools like ChatGPT are revolutionizing B2B marketing by automating routine tasks, providing valuable insights and recommendations, and enabling marketers to focus on more strategic and creative work.
Learning the strategies and trends for the upcoming year is critical for any marketer who wants to stay ahead of the competition.
By understanding what is popular and effective, you can create a plan to help your company succeed. Use the advice in this article to inform how your company moves forward with its marketing goals. Implementing the right strategy will help ensure a successful future for your business.