Staying current is hard. To succeed in the fast-paced marketing world – and to maintain a sense of relevance with your audience – staying ahead is vital.
As a leading provider of product marketing and demand generation services, we are in the trenches every day. To help you get a leg up on what to expect, our marketing specialists assembled the top 22 B2B marketing predictions in ‘22.
Some are old friends with a new twist. Others are new to the scene with promising potential. Grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and see what’s in store for the year ahead.
#1 World-class customer experiences will separate winners from losers
No longer is marketing about trying to convince people to buy from or work with your company. Instead, the priority is providing customer experiences that keep people coming back for more.
Customers are impatient. They also want the experience to be seamless from the first spark of interest to support after the sale. Whether it’s personalized relevant messaging to solve a problem or content to make a buying decision, an experience that delivers across all channels is more likely to convert to a sale.
The opportunity to improve is significant. Seventy-three percent of people say that customer experience is an important factor in their buying decisions, but currently, only 49 percent of US consumers say that companies provide a good experience.
Interested in seeing the big picture? This organization-wide holistic Customer Experience (CX) Management Framework pulls it all together.
#2 Inbound marketing will stay front and center
This strategy to win new customers has been around for years. Those who haven’t already embraced inbound marketing are jumping on the bandwagon. In a time of unprecedented change like now, it’s a smart move – and overdue for some.
At the core of inbound marketing is the need to produce quality, valuable content tailored to your target audience, buyer personas, and their needs. It’s a valuable way to create brand awareness and build trust by driving customers to seek out your content.
#3 More will rely on SEO to drive website traffic
Discoverability of websites and content is critical to marketing, especially on Google. Short-term and long-term traffic are the obvious beneficiaries.
The interesting aspect of SEO is that it’s becoming even more integrated within modern-day marketing strategies. Rather than churning out basic blog posts that answer simple search queries, marketers are turning to SEO specialists for help with search insights reports, multimedia optimization, and more.
#4 Featured snippets will supplement rankings
The on search engine results page – also known as “on SERP” – represents one of the most major shifts in the SEO industry in years. Now you don’t need to click through to a website to get the information you’re seeking – it’s right there on the Google search results page.
If you can be the first in your industry to get there, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors. Fortunately, more SEO experts are offering this service.
#5 Keyword optimization will boost brand discoverability
The so-called search insights report informs keyword optimization decisions – think of it as a roadmap for content creators. The report is a cross between the keywords report used by SEO teams and an editorial calendar used by content teams. It organizes content into topic clusters and provides clear instructions for writing search-friendly blog posts.
You can see why this is important. According to Search Engine Journal, 47 percent of marketing professionals who leverage SEO say their companies plan to increase their search spend in their strategy.
#6 Content marketing will continue to rule
At least half of buyers view three to five pieces of content prior to engaging with a sales rep. The majority of those buyers expect brands to create content to capture their interest. Statistics like these explain why B2B marketers are steadily increasing their investments in content marketing.
Still skeptical? Look no further than marketing jobs. Titles like content creator, content marketing manager, and content strategist signal the importance of these roles to marketing leaders.
#7 Case studies will continue to drive leads and brand credibility
Done right and well, case studies provide prospects with a complete understanding of how a company benefits from a product or service. Whether publicly available or gated content, case studies continue to drive leads and brand credibility.
Need more convincing? According to Fresh Perspective, 54 percent of B2B buyers engage with case studies during their buying process and 98 percent feel that it’s important to see them on vendor websites.
#8 Video marketing will become ubiquitous
Video creates a deeper connection with a potential customer base and it is easy for brands to repurpose video content into podcasts and text-based content.
The numbers back this up. Seventy-six percent of marketers that leverage video call it their most effective content format. Slightly more than one in four marketers who use video say it’s the content type that yields the biggest ROI.
Whereas video creation was once limited due to costly resources and production, now it is accessible. With a lower-cost barrier, video has become possible to incorporate into mainstream marketing efforts.
#9 Marketers will keep video content short
Short-form video content – we call them “Scooby Snacks” – is on the rise.
B2B marketers have learned that getting to the point with short-form videos can actually be much more effective. Not only does it take less bandwidth to create a short-form video, but this type of format is ideal for the short attention spans of online audiences. It’s less expensive too.
#10 Influencer marketing will go from trend to common tactic
We’re not talking about celebrity influencers more typical in B2C marketing – apologies to Kim Kardashian and LeBron James. We’re talking about micro-influencers. Although they have fewer followers, their posts often pack more punch due to their higher level of engagement.
This is why they’ve started to play a bigger role in converting leads, connecting with audiences, and boosting brand awareness for marketers. Unlike hard-to-reach celebrities, micro-influencers are perceived as more accessible. As a result, their audiences are more likely to trust their opinions and recommendations.
#11 Mobile optimization will be even more important
More than half of annual online website traffic comes from mobile devices, including tablets. Processing power, broadband access, and affordability are making digital experiences on mobile devices vital for B2B marketers.
But this is bigger than just websites. More than 70 percent of people read their email in a mobile app, meaning marketers who work with email should focus on delivering mobile email experiences to subscribers.
#12 Virtual events will continue
Marketers won’t be leaving the virtual event and conference space any time soon. In fact, 63 percent of marketers say they plan to conduct “the same number or more” virtual events in 2022. Covid-19 and its mutations will ensure this is the case.
#13 Audio-only content will increase
The rise of audio-only content such as podcasts has become an effective tool to hyper-target audiences and give a good ROI. B2B marketers took notice, expanding their podcast content and networks to reach more listeners.
As audio content becomes increasingly common in the digital world, more marketers are evaluating if this format could benefit their brand, whether it be their own branded content or working through third-party podcast channels with established audiences.
#14 ABM traction will accelerate
Account-based marketing, or ABM, is gaining momentum from startups and larger companies alike. While the understanding varies widely, ABM is a technique where marketers leverage information about prospects and customers provided by sales teams in an effort to build and execute hyper-targeted campaigns.
To put this in perspective, 62 percent of marketers leveraged ABM to win over customers. In 2022, a selection of marketers who haven’t used it will for the first time.
#15 Blogging will remain a potent force
Blogging has been a part of marketing strategy since websites started proliferating. But don’t confuse age with relevance. Blogging has been around a long time because it works.
Research suggested that most B2B buyers read blogs multiple times per week and have purchased something from a company after reading the company’s blog. In addition to providing engagement and potentially conversion, blogs enable search discoverability with SEO more easily than sites that don’t.
#16 Story-driven content visualization will persuade
Research has shown that people prefer visual content to plain text. Look no further than the growth of image-focused platforms like Pinterest and Instagram for proof.
Visuals are easier to remember than written content. Adding data visualizations, infographics, images, and videos to your text not only makes it more interesting and attractive, but it can help your message stick too.
#17 Infographics with data will replace pictures
Well, maybe not entirely. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then an infographic is worth twice as much. Of the marketers who regularly use infographics in their content strategy, 56 percent say they are their most effective content type. Infographics not only have the shareability and visual appeal of a photo – but they’re also packed with helpful data and informative information.
Credible data can help marketers, bloggers, and content creators tell compelling and persuasive stories. This makes them incredibly engaging to web visitors and social media audiences alike.
#18 Conversational marketing
There was a time when sales and customer service were analog – a phone call, a visit to the store, and in recent years an email or online form. Now sales and customer service reps – and chatbots – are interacting with customers using instant messaging. The interactions are less formal, but the customer expectations are higher.
Customers don’t want to talk to someone who is following a script. They want help that’s specific to their needs and situation. They also want immediate response times. That means having multiple communication channels, so customers can engage the way they want.
#19 AI-based automation adoption will increase
AI has made huge strides. A great many more businesses are using AI-powered technology and automation to assist their marketing efforts. The uptick is driven by the promise that AI technology and automation will help remove the grunt work from marketing so brands can concentrate on strategy and crafting a fantastic customer experience.
This is not about replacing people, but using this technology to help marketers learn more about their audience and customers. It’s enabling hyper-personalization of customer experiences and marketing messages at scale.
#20 Link building will help companies boost credibility
When sites with solid rankings begin to link to yours, Google’s crawlers note that your site might be credible and have solid authority in your space. This can then cause your Google ranking to go up.
Although writing highly shareable content, reaching out to share it with other websites, or ensuring that your post gets links can be time-consuming and challenging, research shows that this time and effort pays off. Of the 48 percent of SEO marketers that use backlinking and link building, 63 percent say it’s their brand’s most effective SEO tactic.
#21 Marketers will test out native ads
When you pay to feature content on a third-party website, you’re investing in native advertising. Unlike traditional advertising, native advertising is designed to blend in and promote your brand to a new audience who might otherwise never learn about you.
Because native ads don’t “feel” like traditional ads, consumers are more likely to consume them. Examples of native advertising can be found on social media, through search engine results, content recommendation platforms, or in campaigns.
Why the growing interest in this strategy? It works. Of the marketers who use native ads, more than 36 percent say it’s effective, while nearly 5 percent say it’s their top ROI-generating tactic.
#22 More B2B companies will outsource marketing
HubSpot reports that nearly two-thirds of B2B companies outsource a portion of their marketing. What’s driving the increased interest in outsourced marketing, from start-ups to mature companies?
Specialization is one reason. Too often, business leaders try to force their marketers into functions outside their core roles, rather than turn to specialists. Marketing has become too complex for generalists alone. Companies need access to these resources, but may not need them on the payroll full time.
Another reason is flexibility. The flexibility of hiring contractors rather than full-time employees has always had appeal. It’s easy for employers to shift gears if organizational priorities change. And making a switch if your contractor or agency isn’t working out is not nearly as costly or time-consuming as it is with an FTE.
You made it to the end!
So you’re up to speed for now. As long as you’re keeping a thumb on the pulse of marketing trends – and always an open mind – your business won’t fall behind.
If keeping up with all of this leaves you feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. If you want help to figure out where and how to start, then reach out. We’re here to educate, guide, and support your marketing initiatives.
Book an appointment with us to start a conversation.