As years go, 2020 felt longer and more challenging than ever, where the resilience of marketers seeking to deliver their ambitions in B2B digital marketing strategies was been tested in new ways, expected and unexpected.
The year started with a great deal of uncertainty, with businesses searching for ways to better their position whilst things are tough. It’s been a learning curve, proven by sustainable growth in digital efficacy, with 70-80% of B2B decision-makers preferring digital self-serve and remote human interaction to face-to-face.
We’ve kick-started the year with a clearer sense of how to drive value and outcomes during a crisis. Also, we’re taking forward lessons that lend to a longer-term value add across strategy, technology and process to give us and our clients advantage in the coming year.
So what are the B2B digital marketing strategies you should be considering for 2021?
Buyer journey & persona focused strategies
1. Health-check your audience post-COVID
Pre-COVID, B2B marketing focused on the professional side of a buyer’s profile almost entirely. 2020 forced us to consider more of their personal story:
- Consider life stage: how has social distancing changed things for the executive at home with children or the urban-based professional?
- Their set-up: will long-form downloadable content help a millennial without a printer, or will you need to change your media mix now that the daily commute holds a smaller audience footprint?
- Consider their preferences: ask your audience directly how they want to be reached.
2. Power your lead quality by mapping content to journey stage
A prospect can move through buying stages rapidly, slowly and inconsistently. Ensuring content topics and tactics are planned to tightly fit each stage of the journey will give your B2B marketing strategies the best chance at return on investment. To achieve this, you need understanding and buy-in from across your team, and consideration for how different channels such as Google Ads, paid social and programmatic could be integral.
3. Show your value-add further down the funnel
Buyer groups and those who influence decision-makers are increasing in size, and often make decisions as a collective. Providing comparative assessment and benchmarking toolkits can demonstrate value and capture curiosity and research-focus across these groups at an early stage, where it’s become ever more competitive to influence conversational assessments and intelligence shared across the group.
Long term strategy, getting the basics right
4. Consider a B2B digital advertising audit
It’s a transformational era, we’ve learnt new things about our customers, our teams and the potential pitfalls across our channels. Following the business challenges of 2020, budget scrutiny will continue, and you need to know how to set goalposts and mitigate risk in 2021. Recently, Modern’s Head of Digital sketched out your audit roadmap, outlining 30 questions you should be asking to interrogate your digital advertising programmes and inspire change.
5. Have strong management principles to validate and interrogate your KPIs
A complicated buying journey leads to complex metrics and success indicators. We recently published a guide showing how you can find simplicity in delivering on a strategy when you’re measuring the correct things, regularly optimising and considering the buyer journey first, before the channel.
6. Frame your Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy around intelligent shortlisting
The longevity of ABM campaigns often calls for regular progress updates to maintain stakeholder buy-in. To be able to sustain a narrative that your strategy is moving in the right direction over as many as 9 months, you need to demonstrate consistent high-level engagement. Research, methodology and structure are as critical here as the campaign execution. If your target accounts have been vetted based on company mission, likely buyers and intent signals, you’ll have a better chance at achieving tangible ROI.
Plugging innovative tools into a strategy, not the reverse!
7. Innovation is about how you use a toolkit, not picking one tool
So, you’ve been asked to innovate? A regular misconception about innovation is that it must be one big idea, one platform, one channel. The truth is that you can innovate effectively by bringing together an ecosystem of tools, working to complement each other in your campaign. Where we often see failure is where a campaign has picked a tool first and then tried to attach its B2B marketing strategies to it. Modern’s CEO, Nicola Ray, recently spoke on the High Growth Knowledge Company podcast about always considering process, techniques and working practices when leveraging technology.
8. Cross-platform intelligence gathering
9. Lean on a growing ecosystem to understand your customers
Platforms like Nexus from Cyance are leveraging intent data to power campaigns, by monitoring keyword “surges” and performance, in coordination with third-party data, to offer a clearer picture of what buying stage a firm may be passing through. This can in turn be extracted and used to add focus to your targeting efforts in channels like LinkedIn. We recently published a guide on the ad tech for B2B you need to be using right now. Take a look.
Optimisation strategies for high performing campaigns
10. Maximise performance using KPIs
84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services. This includes your ad experience. KPIs are a critical aid to helping you configure for better performance. Check, check and check your settings again. Don’t be afraid to test different bidding strategies. Ensure your audience is focused to avoid superfluous clicks and automate your process to resolve items like negative keywords, maximum bid and overall budget.
11. Leverage micro-testing to gain smart targeting insights fast
Allocate a small budget per account to run a testing program. This can be particularly effective at identifying tweaks in audience settings or creative that can improve comparative performance, whilst avoiding any risk to lead target, CPL or other benchmarks in play.
12. Optimising based on quality, not just quantity
Chasing statistical significance can be harder in B2B than B2C. That doesn’t mean you have to deplete too much of your budget to gain actionable insights. The optimisation techniques guide helps navigate challenges for test and learn in B2B marketing strategies – from the duration of the sales cycle and time needed to get feedback, to considering practical and consistent guides for thresholds.
Are you ready?
2021 will be another exciting year for MarTech – we’ve shown here that there are many strategic approaches to navigate and consider how to deploy in the right way. With the right mix, you can drive customer-centric value and hit your desired outcomes during what will no doubt be another transformational year.
Do you need help thinking about what strategies deliver, and which platforms can help perform against demand generation targets? Get in touch to make a change today.