How B2B buyers interact with businesses has changed dramatically over the years. As technology continues its rapid advancement, buyers change their behaviors. It's only natural that B2B marketers would adapt their strategies accordingly, whether it’s their B2B SEO strategy or they way they structure their organization.
It’s not necessarily easy to adapt, however. Digital technology, from social media platforms to online procurement, has changed nearly every aspect of marketing in an extremely short amount of time. And the changes keep coming, so it can be hard to know what will come next.
The best way to adapt? Have a deep understanding of what’s happening right now. In this post, we'll look at some of the top marketing and tech trends we expect in 2023, based on what we’re seeing now as 2022 starts to wind down.
Marketing & Sales Continue to Blur
There are many examples of how sales and marketing teams work together to achieve a common goal: driving revenue. However, as companies grow, so does the complexity of these two departments. A recent study by HubSpot found that more than half of all B2B companies have already experienced this blurring.
For many, the smart move is to lean into the change and align marketing and sales, along with customer service, as part of a larger revenue operations (RevOps) plan. There are many benefits to taking this route, one of the most beneficial being more efficiency across teams. We’ll look at RevOps a bit more in-depth later on in this post.
Marketing automation offers many advantages. For example, it allows for appropriate marketing and sales actions to be taken quickly, based on information from the other department. If a previously unengaged member of the email marketing database begins engaging with old emails, an automation should immediately alert the appropriate salesperson so that they can prioritize that person as a lead.
Another example: when a sales person engages in a sales conversation with a prospect, an automation can add that person to a special marketing category. This allows the sales team to target that person with email and CRM-retargeted messages that enhance their buying experience. Of course, it also assists the sales department with meeting their goals.
ABM Continues to be Effective
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing and sales methodology that treats each potential customer as a market of one. It's most appropriate for companies that sell big-ticket products and services, such as many B2B software companies.
ABM requires that marketers and sellers work closely together. It leverages the skills of the marketer to do what they're good at, like generating engagement and interest. It also lets the salesperson do what they are good at — managing the sales process.
More B2B Companies Will Adopt RevOps
Revenue operations (RevOps) is a fairly new concept that is beginning to take hold in modern B2B companies. It's so new that the definition of the term differs from one source to another. So what is RevOps?
Our definition of revenue operations: the strategic alignment of sales, marketing, and service departments through people, platform, and process with the goal of maximizing revenue potential.
In practice, RevOps solves misalignments between these departments and makes use of automation and other technologies to do it. It also creates a structure where revenue challenges can be agilely addressed across the three disciplines.
RevOps is still catching on, but as more and more companies see the benefits of adopting their own RevOps plans, you can expect to hear a lot more about it.
The Rise of Buyer Enablement
You might have already heard of sales enablement, but what about buyer enablement? Buyer enablement leverages sales and marketing activities to make it easier for B2B buyers to make complex buying decisions. It leverages marketing functions, such as user experience (UX) design, within a sales context.
Big, complicated technology deals often include a multitude of data and multiple people involved on both the vendor and customer sides (and sometimes even third parties). An excellent buyer enablement strategy puts all of the pertinent data into one easy-to-access place in an easy-to-understand format. That place is normally a private web portal.
Buyer enablement makes it easy for prospects to get the information they need to move their buying process forward.
Targeting by Purchase Intent
Purchase intent data is information about a company's online activities that might be somewhere in the buyer's journey or sales funnel for what you sell. This data is helpful for both B2B marketers and sellers to prioritize and score leads. It's also often paired with ABM techniques and buyer enablement.
For example, when a group of excellent high-value prospects is identified as having purchase intent for what you sell, the forward-thinking B2B business initiates an ABM campaign, which includes generating buyer enablement pages that are personalized (at scale) for each of the new prospects.
I anticipate that purchase intent data will continue to be an important and growing part of the B2B marketing and sales toolkit. alongside tried and true methods like search engine optimization and high-quality content marketing. The result is that B2B SEO marketing will give B2B companies even greater leverage in 2023.
Video may not be new, but it is still increasingly essential to marketing B2B tech brands. Sourcing high-quality video is an important step toward B2B marketing success.
Video is important to other kinds of content creation. The effectiveness of social media videos, webcasts, live streams of webinars or demos, video podcasts, tutorials, explainer videos, advertisements, and other forms of video make this medium extremely versatile. Including video often improves the performance of email marketing, landing pages, social media, and blog posts.
Case studies are especially effective pieces of content in the B2B space. In an industry study of 600 B2B marketing practitioners, 55% of respondents consider case study and client testimonial videos the best way to help buyers progress through their sales pipeline.
Another kind of effective video for software companies is the old standby explainer video. When your potential customers are exploring ways that they can solve their problems, they often start with a Google search. For many how-to search queries, videos (mostly from YouTube) appear at the top of organic search engine rankings. Videos that are related to a potential customer’s search terms can account for an increase in organic traffic for your business.
We anticipate that in 2023, we'll see even more solution videos on the search engine results pages for many how-to search queries. These kinds of videos can help deliver value to a prospect before they're even an identified lead.
Video can also help meet demand generation goals in situations where the brand isn't well known. It's the medium that generally drives the most engagement on social platforms.
B2B brands that do the following will benefit most from video marketing in 2023:
- The content is laser-focused on the right buyer personas and target markets.
- Include elements of storytelling in the video content. Facts are fine, but stories move the needle.
- Produce video content that is authentic. One advantage that video has over the written word is the ease of injecting endearing human qualities into the content.
- Don't be afraid to use a little humor or other emotions when creating content.
- Stay true to your brand values but don't bludgeon your viewers with them.
Influencer Marketing Becomes Powerful
The entire influencer marketing industry was valued at $16.4 billion in 2022. Since 2016, influencer marketing's average annual growth rate has been 47%. We anticipate that the dramatic growth rate will continue.
While influencer marketing may be largely the domain of business-to-consumer brands, B2B influencer marketing thrives. For B2B influencer marketing to work, you don't necessarily need to partner with the largest influencers like Gary Vaynerchuck, Joel Comm, or Ann Handley. We see more niche influencers playing an important role.
For B2B software, focusing on industry-specific influencers can be an effective approach.
For example, if you make software for mortgage lenders, consider reaching out to Todd Duncan, who is an effective influencer that leverages online marketing channels and live events.
If you are selling software and technology in the insurance space, Tony Caldwell produces valuable content on his own platforms as well as multiple industry newsletters specifically for independent insurance agents.
It's important to find influencers whose audiences coincide with your target audience. You'll need some good data to identify the right fit influencers. Fortunately, there are research tools such as SparkToro and Upfluence to help.
There are influencers who produce different types of content, such as video, audio content like podcasts, written content, social media content, graphical content, and more. You'll want to keep that in mind when identifying the best influencers to partner with.
Marketing Focuses on Existing Customers
For many B2B software companies, churn is a key concern. Because of this, we see a moderately strong emphasis on retention marketing in 2023.
Generally speaking, retaining and upselling current customers costs less than acquiring one net new customer. Because of this, businesses that are adopting a revenue operations mindset are pairing sales and marketing with customer service in new ways. Those that are charged with retention and upsell benefit from the marketing and sales expertise that they can access in a RevOps environment.
Inbound Marketing Works
Inbound marketing is a popular digital methodology in the B2B space, first outlined in Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, a 2009 book by HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan.
While 2009's version of inbound marketing isn't as effective in 2023, the fundamentals are just as valid today as they were. The process of attracting customers, converting them to known leads, closing them as new customers, and delighting them as a part of retention efforts still works.
It looks a little different now. Static inbound offers such as 2009's ebooks and white papers have given way to today's interactive lead generation tools, such as assessments and calculators, which convert better. The tools may change and improve, but the fundamental process still works well.
The Final Word
2023 is just around the corner, so make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running. Knowing the trends that we’re seeing now will help you enter next year with B2B marketing strategies that get results. After all, trends aren't just information about what’s been going on lately — they’re information about what’s most likely to happen next. The better you are at predicting that, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.
Marketing campaigns have always had to adapt. And although changes may seem sudden, the truth is that rarely do these things happen overnight. Like all technology, marketing technology moves fast, but not too fast to keep up with. Keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in marketing now is the best way to set yourself up for success.
And the best part is you don’t have to do it alone. Having a partner that’s invested in your marketing strategy, knows your industry, and knows how to help you earn more qualified leads can certainly help too.
Looking for some more assistance with your marketing strategy for next year? Bridges is a full-service agency that specializes in marketing for B2B technology companies. Let’s discuss some of the ways we can help.
Jake Fisher, is President and Co-Founder of BridgeRev. He helps our clients with their revenue and growth goals by providing better strategies, better processes, and better technology. He also makes videos and written content to help entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers achieve their own revenue goals. And, he talks to business and industry leaders at conferences and association events.