B2B Marketing predictions: The danger of 2022

We’ve looked at research from main leaders in marketing and consolidated their findings to see what we need to include in our B2B marketing plans for 2022. And above all to find out what the potential pitfalls foreseen by Forrester and McKinsey may be. Research by the Content Marketing Institute highlights ‘More Budget, More Work, More Empathy in B2B marketing’. And Smart Insights research shows that many businesses don’t have a planned approach to take advantage of the latest and evergreen digital marketing techniques. Gartner gives directions on how to accelerate growth in marketing maturity.

Table of contents

B2B Marketing predictions 2022: in summary

  • Digital, personalised experiences are becoming the key differentiators for businesses. Despite many new technologies, sales and marketing still have a long way to go to create these personal experiences while maintaining a smooth revenue engine.
  • Not understanding the buyer is and will remain the main reason why marketing and sales activities fail. Therefore, prioritising the audience’s informational needs, differentiating your content from the competition, and creating content based on specific stages of the buyer’s journey, will lead to success.
  • The breakdown of the budget across paid, owned and earned digital channels is interesting. It shows the ongoing importance of a website, email, paid and organic search and social media which all gain a similar level of budget compared to the year before.
  • The options for testing and always-on campaigning are some of the biggest strengths of digital marketing. However, there are still many businesses that don’t take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Restructuring the marketing team is often needed to achieve flexibility in a changing environment and to ensure marketing’s value to the business in the long run.

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Digital and tech going hand in hand

“The journey to personalisation has only just started and has a long way to go”

In the most recent CMI Annual Content Marketing Survey, half of the respondents said it had become increasingly difficult to capture their audience’s attention in the last 12 months. Many marketers shifted to digital marketing and online selling. We know that B2B will follow B2C and we see a big shift when it comes to customer expectations in B2C. The Next in Personalization 2021 Report by McKinsey reveals that “Seventy-one percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. And seventy-six percent get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.”

In Predictions 2022, Forrester Research states that with the rise of technologies, the old ways of working no longer work: “Whilst 70% of marketers are adopting an always-on digital engagement strategy in 2022, 75% of personalised engagement strategies will not meet ROI goals.”

As a result, Forrester predicts that fragmented marketing teams will consolidate in 20% of B2B firms. They also predict that the end-to-end conversion ratio will stay behind and that the customer lifecycle will be underserved. At the same time, they see how demand generation tactics are merging with account-based tactics and techniques. This will drive a redesign of the processes in marketing and sales.

“In 2022, an emerging group of growth marketers will drive how success is defined, pursued, and measured.”

Digitalisation is inevitable

In Gartner’s recent research, it becomes clear that the shift to online is inevitable. Sales teams are unable to deliver face-to-face customer interactions and the focus has shifted to online and hybrid experiences. Today, almost half of buyer behaviours take place via online channels and post-pandemic this is likely to grow. A recent survey of B2B procurement specialists indicated that “online will account for 59% of sales by 2023, reducing transactions through salespeople from 28% today down to 24% in two years.”

COVID-19 forced marketers to double down on marketing technology to accelerate digital transformations. As a result, technologies such as event-triggered marketing, mobile wallet marketing and Multichannel Marketing Hubs (such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Marketo Engage, Adobe Campaign, etc. progressed more quickly toward maturity. [2021 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing by Gartner]

Whilst marketing and sales technologies are on the rise, Forrester Research sees the next challenge coming up. B2B marketers will turn to more complex tech stacks. This will be part of their digital strategy: “but 75% of efforts to create automated, personalised engagement will not meet ROI goals because of inadequate buyer insight.”

The danger of not understanding the buyer and buyer’s journey

“The main challenge is to create value for the buyer and enable the buyer to buy.”

Part of the mismatch between automation and personal engagement is a result of not understanding the buyer and the buyer’s journey. “And if you don’t understand how to create value for a buyer during the buying process, you are 2-0 down.” [Forrester Research]

A Digital Marketing Optimization Report by Smart Insights describes what techniques we use to understand the buyer journey better. Most marketers understand that creating value for the buyer can only be done by listening to the buyer and customer in one way or the other.

The CMI Annual Content Marketing Survey for 2022: “The most successful marketers were more likely than all respondents to prioritise the audience’s informational needs, differentiate their content from the competition, and craft content based on specific stages of the buyer’s journey”. See in the graph below:

In the footsteps of Gartner SPOTONVISION has also spent quite some effort on explaining the role of buyer enablement in B2B.

B2B channels: owned, paid and earned equally important

“72,2% budget to pure digital and LinkedIn in B2B most successful.”

Gartner sees a rapid change in B2B channel priorities. Both in terms of the channels that deliver value through transactions and the mix of marketing channels that build awareness, consideration, and purchase. Data from the 2021 Gartner CMO Spend Survey indicates that 62% of CMOs changed their channel priorities in 2021: “While these adaptations generally favour online channels versus offline, the need for a channel-agnostic, hybrid approach to marketing activation has never been greater.”

The Gartner Survey shows CMOs have shifted spending across channels and programmes. With digital channels dominating those priorities and accounting for 72.2% of the total marketing budget.

The breakdown of budget across paid, owned and earned digital channels is interesting. It shows the ongoing importance of website, email, paid and organic search and social media. These channels all gain a similar level of budget compared to the year before.

The CMI Annual Content Marketing Survey confirms the trend. CMI respondents stated: “We began generating content on a more frequent basis and exploring new channels in which to distribute the content.”

In the same survey respondents say that LinkedIn is the social media platform that B2B content marketers used the most. And the one they said produced the best results, both for organic and paid advertising.

Always-on campaigning

“There’s a cry for structured testing and optimization.”

In Predictions 2022 of Forrester Research, we read that “Three-quarters of personalized engagement strategies will not meet ROI goals. Persistent digital engagement will become the norm, with 70% of marketers adopting an always-on digital engagement strategy in 2022.”

The options for testing are one of the biggest strengths of digital marketing. However, there are still many businesses that don’t take advantage of these opportunities. In the Digital Marketing Optimization Report by Smart Insights, we see that around one-third of businesses have no or limited testing. Only around one fifth have a continuous, structured programme. [Smart Insights]

According to Forrester more than 94 percent of B2B buying decisions are now made by a group of three or more individuals. This means that marketers have greater access to interest and intent signals than ever before: “Demand and ABM leaders should sense and respond to buying signals in real time and use them to target, trigger, and tailor messaging, creating a shift to real-time buyer enablement.”

Building your B2B Marketing team 2022

Looking at the research of leading analysts, we see there’s a long way to go when it comes to digital transformation results in B2B marketing and sales. What does this mean for the B2B marketing teams of the future? In the Gartner Spend survey the CMO is advised to:

  • Rebuild the marketing engine for flexibility in a changing environment,
  • Reassert marketing’s digital orchestrator role to avoid further loss of influence, and
  • Execute adaptive strategies that prove marketing’s value to the enterprise.

It seems that we should embrace flexible and adaptive ways of working for many reasons. McKinsey: “Businesses that succeed in scaling personalisation create teams that cut across marketing, product, analytics, and technology. Together, these teams run hundreds of tests per year, enabled by advanced data analytics and test-and-learn techniques.”

SPOTONVISION’s 5 takeaways:

  • The accelerating maturity of marketing and sales technologies pushes demand generation and account-based marketing in the same playing field. This means that we need to adapt our ways of working to personalized and always-on campaigning.
  • New technologies and new metrics will drive the need for growth marketers in the teams. This means that we will need to invest in technologies as well as competent digital marketers.
  • The need for buyer insights and buyer enablement content is greater than ever before. This means that we need to keep doing buyer persona and customer journey research.
  • The need for channel diversity and always-on campaigning, puts stress on optimization skills in the marketing teams.
  • Marketing teams need to move away from traditional ways of working and move to digital adaptive strategies to be successful.

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