In this second part of our two-part series on Marketing Trends to Watch in 2023, we examine more trends that marketers should consider adopting and adapting next year, even while your push to achieving current year-end marketing and sales goals are underway. There’s no time better than now to begin laying the groundwork for what you and your team should be focused on next.
Continuing with our theme for Part 1, marketing ideas and trends are abundant. But at the end of the day, there’s limited time and other resource to execute on them. Our intent for sharing with you all the trends we like and are considering ourselves is to give you plenty of options to consider.
After we concluded our research to write Part 1, we confirmed what we originally suspected: A return to fundamentals is in order, but with a focus on doing them differently and better. So, let’s continue getting back to some basics with a few new twists.
1. All the trends point to the vast opportunities for better execution of content marketing. It’s not just about what your content says, it’s also about how you create it.
2. Much of what marketing can do is powered by the investment need to do it. If you feel your marketing budget is insufficient, request a larger allocation as a percent of total revenue, and back it up with solid rationale for key spending areas: Buyer Understanding, Current Customer Engagement, Purpose-Driven Branding
3. After an understandably long absence, in-person events are back. For how long we don’t know, but for now they should be back in your marketing plan.
Trend #1: Create and Deliver Content Differently
In Part 1 we led with content trends, so let’s pick it up again here with a few more content-related ideas to consider. First, a few metrics to keep in mind:
According to Demand Gen Report, B2B Buyers Survey Report, June 2021, B2B buyers indicated that once they engaged with a solution provider’s site, the biggest factors influencing their decisions were
• Easy access to relevant content (65%)
• Easy access to pricing/competitor information (65%)
• Content that speaks directly to needs and demonstrates industry knowledge (55%)
• Ease of search and navigation tools (36%)
• Vendor-focused content (43%)
With these stats at hand, here are a few more content ideas/trends for your consideration:
AI Content: Embed Smart AI (aka Human-Guided AI) into your content strategy. AI-assisted content will have more influence in 2023 because creating content through more traditional methods requires a lot of work. While AI won’t replace human writers, it helps to automate some of the menial work.
Interactive Content: B2B marketers are using assessments, quizzes, and human-trained chatbots that give buyers the opportunity to engage and ability to see problems more clearly. For example, assessments and quizzes could help buyers see they need to upgrade their systems or look at problems in a different way, and a human-trained chatbot can help users determine how many more tech hardware units or software licenses they need to order.
User-Generated Content: Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to trust user-generated content compared to company-generated content. A phone to take pictures/videos and a social media account is all it takes to work with your users and influence them to share your content.
Trend #2: Increase Customer Loyalty
Gaining trust for and commitment to your brand is an ongoing, long shelf-life trend. Any marketer worth his or her salt should know by now that customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy is paramount to sustaining a brand and revenue.
Of course, acquiring net new customers is also vitally important to expanding your market share, but if you’re always churning customers then you’re also aways climbing a muddy slope – two steps forward followed by one step back.
So, the twist here on the ongoing trend (if there even is such a thing as an “ongoing trend”), is to double-down on retention and loyalty. Your ROI will be stronger since you’re marketing to an existing customer (i.e., a warm vs. cold lead).
Creating customer loyalty begins with consistently great implementation of your Customer Experience (CX) strategy. Don’t have a CX strategy in place? Create one! There’s no shortage of accessible research and recommendations for how to orchestrate CX initiatives that keep current customers satisfied and onboard.
Trend #3: Search for Different Search Solutions
It’s challenging for B2B marketers who advertise services and high-end solutions to see a good ROI these days. Many are abandoning Google Search which is getting pricey. And the Google Display Network isn’t producing the ROI it used to in the past, either.
To make matters worse, bot traffic is at its highest (95% of clicks according to some research), and so without good targeting, users won’t see your ads.
Thus, the trend toward higher adoption of LinkedIn ad targeting. It’s especially useful for B2B marketers because its job-title targeting is solid. It enables you to build audiences you can’t get anywhere else. And while buying audience data is a premium ($40 cost-per-click is common), it can be worth the investment because the targeting is better than Google.
We recognize that advising you to consider options other than Google comes with some risk and head-scratching, but the fact is there’s significant movement away from Google and toward LinkedIn and other audience-specific targeting platforms.
Trend #4: Yes to Trade Shows
A lot has changed since the pandemic, including a major hit on in-person conferences and tradeshows. Some predicted these types of events wouldn’t ever recover because sellers and buyers learned how to interact through other channels.
While the part about discovering other human-to-human interaction channels is accurate, in-person meetings are making a comeback and demonstrating positive impacts on sales for B2B companies. Granted, the comeback is gradual and may, as the some predict, never fully recover. But this type of marketing should be back on the B2B marketer’s radar. For the percentage of your buying market anxious to get together in-person again, networking/learning/selling events will be effective, and possibly even more so than ever due to the smaller number of attendees which translates into more intimate selling environments.
Whether this trend proves to have staying power remains to be seen, but for now (read 2023) the time is right to get back in the trade show game.
Trend #5: Don’t Under-Invest in Marketing and Your Brand
Forrester’s 2022 B2B Marketing Survey revealed that just over half (51%) of enterprise companies that grew annual revenue by over 20% in 2021 invested 6.1% to 9% in marketing. Conversely, only one-third of enterprise companies that were flat to declining in annual revenue invested that range. With that percent of revenue allocated to marketing in mind, here are a few smart investment ideas…
Invest in Addressing the Buyer’s Full Journey: Diligence and investment are needed to design marketing efforts that are aligned with enhancing reputation, creating demand, boosting post-sale engagement, and creating personalized experiences. The smart thing for marketers to do is apply the biggest portion of a marketing budget increase to creating a framework that supports the full customer lifecycle and orchestrating key tactics along every step of the entire journey. Buyer influences and behaviors change, so keep this line item evergreen in your budget.
Invest in Post-Sale Engagement: Systematic support of post-sale customer engagement is vital to retaining customers, growing existing accounts, and creating loyal advocates. High-growth companies understand this. According to Forrester, more than one-third of marketing decision-makers with authority over customer engagement are increasing their customer engagement headcount budget by at least 10%, with a dual focus on: 1) Increasing post-sale engagement programs through the sharing of customer experiences and, 2) Demonstrating the impact of customer advocacy and references.
Invest in Your Purpose-Driven Brand: Brands are held to higher standards these days. We were there at the beginning and set the bar high, so we know a little something about this topic. CSR initiatives are now a strategic function that cross into all organizational areas. We know that buyers make decisions based on ESG criteria, great employees lend their talent to organization that reflect their values, and investors reward purpose-built companies. Organizations focused on creating growth in alignment with a meaningful ‘help the world’ brand objective will outperform others in the long run. Invest accordingly!
Contact us to learn more about what and why we do what we do, and how we can help you create in-market connections that leverage the best marketing trends.