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B2B Performance Marketing Trends to Watch in 2023
What comes to mind when you hear the term “marketing”? The ad you were targeted with on Instagram from a digital streaming service promising your password won’t be limited to a single household? The flyer in your mailbox offering savings of up to 20% by switching phone providers? Or is it the email you get every morning at 7 am asking if you’d like to see how a new piece of technology can increase workplace efficiency by 25%?
The correct answer — all the above (and more). In the end, marketing’s goal is to influence a sale. The difference is in the various strategies and tactics used to elicit an action, which differ further depending on the audience. Business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing sells to consumers (think the apparel or food and beverage industries) while business-to-business marketing targets other businesses or organizations (think the manufacturing or telecommunications industries). In B2B marketing, the organization is the customer although the buyers are individuals within that organization.
B2B marketing often involves longer, more complicated sales cycles. As a result, B2B marketing tends to be more complex and multifaceted than B2C. While a widespread awareness play or influencer marketing campaign on social media would be ideal for a new B2C retail brand, a more targeted account-based approach is more appropriate for a B2B company selling a service or tool to a specific buyer persona.
What is B2B performance marketing and why is it important?
Regardless of the marketing channel — social media, digital ads, webinars, direct mail, etc. — B2B marketers are hyper-focused on delivering pipeline from qualified accounts. Campaigns that provide leads primed for conversion are critical to proving marketing’s impact on the business. Thus, B2B performance marketing has emerged as the strategy of choice for many B2B teams.
Simply put, B2B performance marketing is a targeted, short-term, and data-driven strategy that measures the return on investment (ROI) by channel. All marketing is meant to influence a sale, but B2B performance marketing differs from traditional marketing because you pay after a campaign achieves the desired result.
B2B marketing is about efficiency, which is why this strategy is ideal — the financial risk is lower because you’re paying for proof that your effort is, in fact, resulting in meaningful business outcomes. Its short-term and data-driven nature also enables marketers to evaluate the performance and adapt the strategy as needed by making changes if the numbers return subpar or investing more if the campaigns are performing well.
The top B2B performance marketing trends to watch in 2023
B2B marketing has always been complex, but it’s even harder to navigate in today’s environment where marketers are grappling with everything from a volatile, unpredictable economy impacting budgets and forecasting to the lingering effects of a global pandemic on consumer behavior and workplace dynamics.
To continue “business as usual” means being comfortable with things that typically cause discomfort — testing, pivoting, and changing. B2B performance marketing helps ensure a marketing mix that proves its impact even in times of economic uncertainty by providing indisputable data to positively impact the pipeline.
In addition, incorporating the following B2B performance marketing trends can help marketers feel a sense of security amid turbulence.
- Digital-first strategy. There’s no escaping digital. Frankly, why would you even want to? The world is increasingly digital and target buyers are increasingly digital natives. All marketing campaigns, not just B2C, must prioritize digital. B2B clients are consumers themselves and accustomed to the digital-first strategy they see in their everyday consumer lives. A seamless digital experience is also expected from the partners and vendors they work with.
All aspects of your B2B marketing campaigns must be viewed through a digital lens. White papers or guides should be developed as downloadable assets. Digital ad placement should include social channels as well as traditional industry websites. Digital-first marketing, like B2B performance marketing, is data-driven, low in cost, and high in efficiency.
- Personalized campaigns. B2B buying cycles are notoriously long and complex. As a result, it is unlikely that a piece of content or individual interaction will result in an immediate sale. Rather, it’s a multitude of varying touch points that eventually inch the buyer down the path to purchase. As a result, B2B marketers believe in personalized campaigns over blanketed ones. Truly get to know your buyer — their goals, pain points, processes, tools of choice, etc. Then build a marketing campaign that speaks their language.
As you personalize the message of your campaign, remember to include a variety of content types. From guides to webinars to demos, create various short- and long-form assets to appeal to different consumer preferences. For example, some buyers may prefer reading over watching a video while others want to gather multiple resources to do independent research before reaching out for a demo. The beauty of B2B performance marketing is the ability to test ideas so don’t be afraid to try something new — perhaps a quiz, ROI calculator, or other interactive option.
- Customer relationships. Never stop wooing your customers. Not only do fully engaged and satisfied customers provide a steady revenue stream, but they also have high potential for expanding their current relationship and give positive references to prospects considering your product or service. So why is marketing to prospects often a higher priority than marketing to current customers?
In 2023 we will see more businesses pivot to nurturing their current customer relationships. As a result, there will be a corresponding shift to increase customer marketing efforts by tailoring messaging and communications to appeal to current customers. From success stories to customer-only events and content, B2B marketers will focus on keeping their customers happy to not only increase their loyalty lifetime value but to also expand the customers’ use of the products and services offered (cross-sell and upsell).
We are living and working in an era where marketers no longer have the same liberties to test every theory or spend lavishly on campaigns. But you don’t have to be a psychic or have a crystal ball to be successful in marketing. The data returned in B2B performance marketing helps marketers understand how their audience wants to be marketed to and empowers them with the data needed to make smarter decisions.
When equipped with data, B2B marketers have a clear view of what efforts are working so they can identify strategies and tactics for success in times of economic harmony and economic turmoil.