The B2B digital marketing trends set to last beyond lockdown

16th June 2020

Although B2B marketers will hate to admit it, many in our industry have been slower to recognise, and capitalise on, the potential of digital marketing than our B2C cousins. But we’re no luddites. In fact, the opposite is true: we were all caught up and raring to go long before the global pandemic made it essential. 

The proof lies in how quickly our B2B world has adapted to working outside of the office. At Pod, we’ve seen our clients swap out in-person events for live-streaming, replace breakfast briefings with webinars, and exchange workshops for serialised digital content. It’s all been arranged from a distance over Hangouts*, and it’s been achieved quickly and efficiently, with minimum amounts of fuss (we’d like to think we helped with that).

B2B is traditionally a world in which relationships between individuals can make all the difference. The shift to digital has made that a little harder, but not impossible. Cutting edge tools provide 101 ways to make the digital experience more diverse, more personal, more human. Often the only problem is deciding which platform to use or how many of the freshly-released niche products it's sensible to trial.

A dollop of creativity, a pinch of pragmatism

The fact is, it takes a careful mixture of creativity and pragmatism to get digital marketing right. As with any type of marketing, you should always begin by outlining your strategic objectives rather than jumping feet first into the tactics. Look at what you already know about your audience and use any insight you can gather to find out if anything has changed, look at what your competitors are doing - or not doing - and be clear on what you want your digital activity to achieve. And if you’re unsure where to begin,  seek external support.

With all of this in mind, we’ve pulled together a quick list of the marketing trends we think are having the most impact during the pandemic - these are the trends which we expect will stick around even after we start sharing cautious handshakes (or elbow bumps) again in our post-lockdown world: 

 

Video

Video is a brilliant digital format for several reasons. If it’s fast and fun, it has the potential to achieve cut through in an overcrowded marketplace. If it’s both watchable and shareable, it has the ability to build brand equity quickly and cost-efficiently. Video can be a powerful vehicle for emotion and empathy, or simply the best way to provide accessible information. Done well, video can turn something complex into something straightforward or humanise even the largest corporate; giving internal teams, stakeholders or customers the opportunity to see a human face at a time when this feels more important than ever.

 

Podcasts

The popularity of podcasts is easy to understand. They’re easy to create and a big favourite among time-pressed professionals who like to multitask; getting their information while doing other tasks, such as making an essential journey or walking the dog. Podcasts work best when there’s a variety of voices, with timely, relevant and informative things to say. And if you also transcribe them, you’ve got valuable, shareable content that can form part of a larger campaign and really work hard for your business. (We like them so much, we’ve written a blog about them. You can read it here.)

 

Live streaming and virtual events

As a nation, we simply love streaming. It’s something we’re used to doing in our down-time, where live streaming has added an extra dimension to our entertainment choices and changed the way we engage with those in the public eye. With the boundaries now blurred between home and office, it’s also become something we’re happier to do in business hours. This fact is reflected in the recent addition of live streaming capability to LinkedIn’s business pages, and many B2B businesses are already making the most of the live streaming trend by moving their large events online or offering existing and potential clients ‘access all areas insights’ into their operations. It’s got all of the benefits of video but with an extra edge that pulls the audience in and makes them feel like they’re really a part of something. 

 

B2B micro-influencers

Influencer marketing has been a B2C staple for quite some time, and influencers can be just as beneficial for B2B brands, although we might use them slightly differently. In the B2B forum, influencer marketing works best when it is subtle, intelligent and trustworthy - and this is where the micro-influencer comes in. B2B micro-influencers may not boast the follower numbers of today’s digital celebs, but they can provide access to niche, truly interested audiences who are far more likely to trust what they are being told. With B2B’s enduring focus on ABM and campaigns that are personalised and hyper-relevant, micro-influencers have the power to get your brand seen in all the right places. The key to a successful micro-influencer campaign begins with a careful nurturing of influencer relationships, and then being able to provide influencers with the kind of content they will be proud to share - so that their advocacy of your brand rings true with their audience.

 

Testing, testing

Testing and adjusting marketing campaigns is nothing new, but it is particularly important right now. Covid-19, the #BlackLivesMatter protests, the constantly changing advice from government in our unrecognisable world: all of it is changing customer sentiment and marketplace forces on a daily basis. So don’t just let your campaigns run; continually assess and optimise their performance. Keep on testing the temperature of your target audience, keep on testing the effectiveness of your campaigns, and keep on tweaking your messaging; asking whether your approach is appropriate and whether it can deliver the results your business wants. 

For marketers, 2020 must necessarily be the year of agility. Thankfully, pausing and pivoting digital campaigns can be done more quickly and easily than other types of marketing campaigns. The key here is having the strong foundations of a carefully planned strategy - to provide the boundaries for your marketing teams to work within and to make sure your objectives are always front of mind.

The Marketing Pod has created a guide for B2B businesses, to help them review and reshape their marketing strategy during (and after) the coronavirus epidemic. You can download it here.

 

*Or Teams, Meet or Zoom!