With the lasting impact of the pandemic and the challenges and uncertainty it has created for the B2B industry, to meet changing expectations and remain competitive, marketers need to adapt their demand generation strategy now more than ever.
One of the biggest shifts brought about by the pandemic has been the frantic digitizing of entire business elements for companies with face-to-face working models. B2B lead generation have largely been limited to online strategies, with businesses having to adapt and develop new tactics.
As the decade progresses, it also becomes increasingly clear that for many companies remote and hybrid work environments are more than a necessity. Although remote working is not fool proof and comes with its own downsides, it also has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to both employees and companies alike, with Gartner reporting that 80% of company leaders are planning to allow remote work post-pandemic.
While the move to working from home is not suited to everyone or every business model, if implemented correctly it has been proven to help grow the reach of B2B companies located across the globe.
As a key B2B demand generation strategy, content marketing often has to remain fluid and ever-changing depending on rates of consumption. But it too has seen changes from developing trends in terms of the types of content receiving the most engagement on various channels.
Video content, in particular, is on the rise. A study by Wyzowl reported that 68% of consumers are having their consumption of video content impacted by the pandemic, with 96% revealing this consumption has increased.
These three recent changes are only a few examples of how the B2B landscape continues to evolve, both in terms of marketing and how companies have adapted their demand generation strategy to meet newfound restrictions.
In the face of adversity and uncertainty, listening to collective insights and opinions can be particularly valuable for determining the right course of action. With this in mind, we asked fellow B2B lead generation and demand generation experts for their thoughts on how the industry will continue to evolve in the next several years.
Below is a roundup of B2B demand generation predictions, effective features, and future-proof strategies for succeeding in 2022 and beyond.
The pandemic has added extra stress to all of our lives. When life is stressful, business is stressful, creativity drops, innovation lags, and tensions rise. Use this to your advantage and find ways to connect with people about common stresses that you are facing.
I often say people don’t want to do business with businesses, they want to do business with people. When it comes to B2B Lead Generation Tactics for 2022, I encourage you to find, showcase, and connect with the human elements of not only your business but also of your clients, partners, and stakeholders. In 2022 and beyond, don’t look at lead generation as a series of tactics, look at it as a chance to leverage your human-to-human networks. The best business comes from word of mouth and referrals. When was the last time you called to check in with a current client, an account manager, or the sales representative that is responsible for driving profits from your partnerships?
In my book, Ditch the Act, I discuss how sharing your human side is a great way to not only connect with people and relate to them but drive business. Being vulnerable with your B2B business contacts and prospects will let them get to know you a little bit better, and create opportunities for them to reciprocate.
Don’t ignore content marketing as a lead generation strategy. If you structure your campaigns properly, you can move prospects through the funnel from reading your social media and blog posts to downloading case studies and whitepapers. The key is creating great content that compels people to give you their information, and that means answering their questions and addressing their pain points.
I am a big fan of Content Marketing/Thought Leadership which is a great way to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. I write about what I know and share my stories and lessons learned. Stories that touch readers emotionally are easier to remember than facts and figures, and they will want to hear more.
Figure out how best to tell your story in a way that makes them pay attention, informs, entertains, and breaks through the noise. Focus on sharing the benefits with them, not the features of your product or service. Stories create fans who will help you sell!
The key is to pick platforms that are authentic to you. For professional service businesses like mine, leveraging LinkedIn matters the most. When generating ideas, I focus on timely issues that affect me or my business as they are likely to be topics that impact others too. If I have a unique perspective or advice to share, I use the distribution vehicle that makes the most sense.
One of the best strategies to keep and grow your online audience today is through interactive marketing such as polls, surveys, quizzes, contests, or interactive videos.
For websites, AI-powered chatbots are great at cutting costs and converting visitors into leads by encouraging visitors to spend more time on sites and guiding them to relevant content.
In a mobile-first world, attention spans are shorter than ever. Video will be used even more in 2022 to boost rankings, with show don’t tell content driving engagement, traction, and growth. Adding video to your site and using the right keywords for video descriptions and headlines will ensure you do better in searches too.
Influencer marketing is on the rise, with curated content and ideas from a trusted source beating paid content every time. Partnering and building relationships with the right influencers with content that is co-created helps brands scale and grow faster, and amplify their message.
Ungate your content. It may sound counterintuitive but giving away your best content for free opens the doors for audience growth. It encourages more social sharing of your content and spreads your brand authority and trustworthiness faster. It’s a brave tactic that can generate long-term results. At Aha Media Group, our publication downloads skyrocketed by 102% in six months after removing forms. Down the road, when those downloaders need a content agency, they may remember how our content helped them and reach out to us, leading to new business.
Infuse accessibility throughout your company culture and promote accessibility features in the content you offer. Holding a webinar? Caption it and mention it when you announce it. Posting a video? Caption it and include a transcript. It leads to loyalty from the many accessibility supporters out there. With more than a billion people having a disability, you’re also reaching their friends and families. That’s a huge market!
Leverage your network, such as founders, advisers, investors, LinkedIn connections, former/existing client referrals, to get the most out of your campaigns. Form strategic partnerships with partners, resellers, and distributors.
Find your customer online by using forums, boards, social platforms, email lists. Contrary to what others may say, cold outreach doesn’t need to change. Keep tried and tested strategies and stick to the old-fashioned way of cold outreach. Implement a founder-led content strategy, become the thought leaders in your space by utilizing your executives and their industry knowledge to establish your brand.
Leverage your integrations, partnerships, and alliances for demand gen through SEO and search advertising. Does your company provide a tool or solution (SaaS, IoT, etc.) that can be combined with an existing popular platform (Salesforce)? If yes, create a use case resource, a landing page, and some blog content optimized to rank for searches for partner solutions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fruit that tree bears.
B2B demand gen strategies always lag behind what’s happening in B2C. For example, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, content marketing – they all started in B2C then migrated over to B2B years later. Right now, the hottest lead generation channel that we’re seeing is Omni-Chat marketing, messaging directly to people using various messaging platforms including Instagram Direct Messaging, Facebook Messenger Marketing, SMS Marketing, WhatsApp, Web Chat, etc., and using platforms like MobileMonkey. The engagement rates are through the roof and it’s only a matter of time until the B2B marketers catch on!
B2B demand generation is evolving and for the better. In 2022, brands will need to decrease their reliance on impersonalized automated outreach efforts and instead focus on meaningful relationship building, via personalized messaging. LinkedIn is the best place to start meaningful relationships with targeted prospects. Engage, provide value and send personalized messages. Start helping. Stop selling. Teams need to focus on being the first to provide value and insights. Technology is great, but only when you can add a personalized element. Teams will need to focus on applying personalization to everything they do.
Always focus on truly adding value and be sure to do whatever you can to form a human connection – people do not want to be treated as a number. Yes, you can measure and track numbers, and bang people relentlessly over the head… and make sales. But! Your brand/business is what you do; your reputation is what people remember and share. If you take the relentless route, you will most probably be doing long-term damage to your brand equity that will not necessarily be evident in the short-term numbers, but most definitely will be evident over time. Be genuine! Be consistent! Be human.
An email marketing list, and the marketing that follows, is not simply about numbers. It’s about adding value to both your brand and the consumer. Unfortunately, too many are simply banging away at the numbers.
Consumers do not owe you their attention, and they certainly do not owe you their ‘permission’. We need to earn it. Permission is earned through quality content that offers genuine interest in and deep understanding of consumer preferences/needs, and a consistent track record that builds trust. Keep the trust, keep the permission, keep the customer.
It’s not just the volume or brilliance of content that matters, it’s how that content relates to them. If content is not relevant, it’s nothing more than a waste of your time and a reason for the consumer to take away permission for ongoing interaction with you.
People must come first – in your growth strategies, in your marketing plans, and in every interaction that you have. Brands are running headlong into brand equity destruction through incessant overuse of their email list and ‘permission’, and incessant digital spamming. The rise of retargeting and digital yield techniques is killing brands, and brand equity for the long term. It makes me wonder how many brand managers, and more importantly CMOs, bother signing up for their own email distribution lists, or shop their brands from an anonymous browser to experience what their customers are being subjected to. Customer experience is no longer simply about product, delivery, and service, but about how the customer experiences our marketing.
As you proceed through this critical year of 2021 and into 2022, remember that permission is a two-way street, and the traffic signals are controlled by your followers. Be their green light, not their stop sign!
Old marketing was dictation. New marketing is communication. Change from convince and convert, to converse and convert!
Personalization is not only for B2C industries. You can easily collect data through an email marketing and marketing automation tool, create user personas, and use similar data to “fill in the blanks” for users who have decided to not give you any information. After that, you can create a tailor-made landing page that will engage your users and further boost your conversion, visibility, and all the KPIs you’re tracking.
Just make sure to create a landing page that will be interactive as well as personalized – in the form of a quiz, for example, or a mini-game – and automated. Automation will allow you to duplicate, save, and show the right landing page combined with the right personalized email marketing campaign at just the right time.
B2B demand gen strategies are shifting to a more relationship-oriented approach. Leveraging strategic partnerships on platforms like Clubhouse to attract and serve hundreds of people and cross-pollinate audiences are proving to be extremely successful for many. There’s also a massive uptick in live video and social media takeovers on platforms like IG and TikTok, especially with mashups and collaborative events.
There will be a lot more of this in 2022. If you desire to scale quickly and build authority, there’s tremendous value in the endorsement of a peer or someone complementary to your business. 94% of people are more likely to buy from someone they hear about through a friend or online review. There is power in testimonials and social proof. Do this well, and you’ll be hitting your B2B demand and lead gen goals in no time!
More and more, people are seeking proof. This might be the result of so much fake news and manipulated videos. People are asking to see samples, especially for big-ticket projects. They want to be sure we are credible before they commit. Having testimonials right on our sales pages, rather than tucked away on a testimonials page, is one way we do this. Writing blog posts about the work we’ve done for clients – with their permission! – also helps establish our legitimacy. The more proof you can provide at the top of the funnel, the more likely you’ll have the chance to offer tangible proof and build a relationship at the bottom of the funnel.
B2B marketers are coming to an honest realization that building a relationship with only one key stakeholder will not bring tremendous or long-lasting value, and may not even result in a single sale. Instead, in our increasingly remote but hyper-connected world, buying committees hold more power than ever before. For every final decision maker, there is a supporting cast of stakeholders and influencers, each of whom plays an important role in the purchase journey.
It is therefore incredibly important to connect with and nurture relationships with these stakeholders. Those who do it right will benefit from accelerated engagement. Moveover, demographics and firmographics are becoming a key component of a B2B marketer’s demand generation strategy.
At the end of the day, you want to provide value for your customer and of course your company. Every touchpoint should add value to the prospect. Share content that is useful to them and that helps you deepen the relationship. Don’t just be annoying and keep checking in without adding any value.
With our B2B Expert Roundup, we have explored a variety of empowering strategies for both demand and lead generation for the end of 2021 leading into 2022.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the experts who contributed and wish all a very prosperous 2022 and beyond.
For more on how to create successful B2B lead generation strategies and demand generation campaigns, view our latest content by demand generation experts on account-based marketing, buyer intent data, content syndication, and more.