5 B2B marketing strategies working for my clients in 2022
The B2B marketing landscape is witnessing a paradigm shift where conventional strategies are quickly becoming obsolete.
We’ve stepped into the engagement economy – an era epitomised by an abundance of information, data, and universal connectivity.
While the age of information and digitalisation have been around for at least two decades in the B2B marketing world, 2022 feels like the year we’ll be pushing the boundaries of analytics and data-driven customer engagement.
In this article I share some careful observations of the evolving scenario and outline my most effective B2B marketing strategies of 2022, each based on at least one of four campaign pillars: creativity, value, intent, and personalisation.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
B2B marketing has moved beyond its earlier version as a one-way street where brands would blindly shove promotions in front of prospects like they were trawling for fish.
Today, B2B customers in just about every economy have instant access to all the information they need to make an informed decision about a service provider or product.
This technological shift has forced a rebalance in the value system from caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (seller beware).
Today, the power sits entirely with buyers which means that B2B companies haven’t any choice but to evolve from a profit-focused approach to a service-focused one.
B2B marketers in the new economy benefit most from seeing themselves as service people, identifying problems, educating buyers, and providing frictionless pathways to solutions for buyers to choose from.
The only feasible strategy is to adopt absolute precision both in finding high-value customers and building relationships with them.
And account-based marketing (ABM) is perfectly positioned for achieving this.
ABM refers to a focused B2B strategy where both marketing and sales teams work jointly to target best-fit accounts for customer acquisition.
Simply put, instead of struggling to attract a random base of prospective customers using a spray and pray approach, businesses using ABM collect detailed information about individual target companies and the contacts working in them.
Strategies under the ABM umbrella include customised content, tailored online experiences, educational experience and, ultimately, targeted promotions and deals that are unique to each contact or account.
ABM has been making waves ever since the early 2000s. Today, more than 87% of marketers swear by its effectiveness for delivering higher ROI compared to other strategies.
ABM comes in a variety of frameworks including:
- One-to-One, or Strategic ABM for highly personalised marketing messages tailored to each individual account based on their specific perceived needs, enabling stronger engagements with the most valued prospects.
- One-to-Few, or ABM Lite for tailored marketing messages targeting a small group of specific named accounts at scale based on a common trait such as business challenge or need for a solution.
- One-to-Many, or Programmatic ABM for targeting a larger number of accounts. It’s best to maintain some common denominator like a vertical or horizontal market. This strategy is usually adopted with the motive to increase brand awareness, promote new solutions, or educate the market.
Employing targeted marketing strategies to locate, connect with, and convert key accounts using a blended sales and marketing approach will lead to the highest possible ROI.
Thanks to modern marketing technology, it’s become easy and affordable to scale ABM to far outperform legacy strategies.
Retargeting for Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Amplification
Gone are the days when sales and marketing teams worked discretely with entirely different agendas in place.
More and more businesses are shifting to a conjunctive approach of aligning the focus of sales and marketing on building relationships and nurturing the same set of high-value contacts.
In the earliest stages of the B2B buying cycle, new opportunities are assessed before being passed along the marketing funnel to become marketing qualified leads (MQLs). From here they are loved and nurtured until eventually they become a sales qualified lead (SQL).
This journey, which typically takes a few months, is littered with an abundance of distractions and competition.
To overcome this, smart marketing strategists are using retargeting to amplify their MQL bucket.
This long-term marketing strategy involves retargeting MQLs using relevant display ads as they are visiting other websites.
Retargeting is nothing new of course. The key takeaway here is that by segmenting MQL contacts into a separate group and creating a relevant message, it’s easy to keep them engaged and wanting more, thus feeding the sales pipeline with an ongoing stream of fresh leads that would’ve otherwise fallen out the funnel.
By adopting an MQL-focused retargeting strategy, B2B brands can improve visibility and move marketing qualified leads through the sales funnel in a frictionless, targeted and cost-effective way.
High-Value Direct Mail
B2B marketing teams often find themselves grappling with lengthy buying cycles lined with obstacles of buyer rejection and lack of brand affinity.
In all-too-common situations like this, high-value direct mail is a widely undervalued treasure for B2B marketers. It can single-handedly foster deeper relationships and stronger engagement with high-value accounts and VIP decision makers.
A quick reference to the four pillars I mentioned at the beginning of this article: creativity, value, intent, and personalisation.
Fresh ideas like branded gifts, playful physical (as opposed to email) event invites, and gift boxes sent in the post can be a game-changer.
They make the customer feel appreciated without dwelling on lengthy, universal messages that they will never want to read.
Accelerator campaigns prompting prospects to engage with you, either in the form of roundtables or discussion groups can create a buzz around your brand while also ensuring that the recipient feels like a valued part of what you have to offer.
Personalised ‘Thank You’ mailers may sound slightly cheesy, but still work wonders if you add a human touch to your outreach campaigns.
It’s no wonder that in 1983 David Ogilvy referred to direct mail as the secret weapon which catapulted his agency to “an instant success.”
LinkedIn Newsfeed and Conversation Ads
LinkedIn Newsfeed and Conversation ads are fast becoming as one of my favourite tools for smashing sales targets and driving brand growth.
They’re laser-targeted, highly creative, and super quick to deploy.
For some context on the reachability of this channel, LinkedIn has 810m members in over 200 countries today. Hootsuite reckons that the platform saw a 55% increase in conversations among connections in 2020.
LinkedIn Newsfeed ads can be leveraged for building awareness and brand affinity with target groups as small as 1,000 people.
Conversation ads drive deeper engagement with contacts while giving them the option to respond to enticing brand messages directly from their inbox, while rejecting the ones they don’t want to hear from again.
This gives B2B marketers what I consider to be one of the most valuable set of tools for creating awareness and nurturing leads from MQL to SQL.
LinkedIn also comes equipped with detailed reports that give insights into audience behaviour, levels of engagement, and brand exposure metrics which can then be passed to sales for further relationship building.
Shifting to ‘Sales Free Sales’ B2B Marketing
Technology and the internet have enabled modern B2B buyers to conduct their own research before engaging with a B2B brand.
This trend has flipped the B2B buying journey on its head.
Buyers have started shifting towards preferring transactions similar to e-Commerce purchases – digitalised, automated, and independent of person-to-person communications.
Gartner found recently that B2B buyers only spent 5-6% of their time engaging with sales reps.
This is why I’m such a strong advocate for ‘Sales free Sales’.
B2B marketing strategies that don’t rely solely on person-to-person communications need to be pushed to the front line. This includes maintaining an active presence on social media, driving targeted brand awareness messages through ads and content, and building deeper relationships with ABM.
The Way Forward for B2B Marketers in 2022
2022 will be the year B2B marketing changes forever. It will be essential to gauge the habits, traits, and preferences of each B2B buyer down to an individual level.
This year, B2B brands need to shift the focus away from promoting their products or services to creating relationships and building a marketing funnel that doesn’t rely on direct marketing and sales.
While it is no secret that selling to B2B customers is hard, evolving and scaling your strategy with time holds the key to success.
If you’d like to talk about your B2B marketing needs, or you’re looking for an experienced B2B marketing consultant, call or WhatsApp me on +44 (0)118 324 7770.