Technology marketing had a lot to contend with in 2021. Events — both in-person and online — were evolving, and customer motivations were changing. It was far from the respite year we thought we would have after 2020.
Now, we’re already thinking about the year ahead of us, and what it will bring to our professional lives. How do we target technology buyers better? What tactics will be front-and-center in the B2B marketing space?
Here are some thoughts about what 2022 has in store:
Peter Mahoney, CEO of Plannuh, says B2B marketers need to be prepared for more uncertain times in 2022 and should not expect business to go back to what we used to consider “normal” at the beginning of 2020.
“The pandemic accelerated some existing trends in digital advertising adoption, remote working, virtual events, and even in major industries like healthcare, transportation, retail, and hospitality,” Mahoney says. “Many of these trends are not going to shift back to the old way since people have adopted new patterns of living and working – probably forever.”
With that in mind, B2B marketers should plan on the following changes in the way they do business for 2022 and beyond:
- The digital shift continues. Not surprisingly, marketers are continuing to invest heavily in digital channels for their marketing efforts. With more and more competition for the same prospects, it is important that your team continue to refine their skills in digital optimization to make sure that you get your fair share of the performance from your digital investments.
- Virtual and hybrid events. With new variants of the virus making their way around the planet, you need to be ready to go virtual on your events at a moment’s notice. And since your prospects and customers are less likely to be willing to endure business travel, every event should have a virtual component if possible.
- Develop your first party data strategy. Since it is becoming increasingly difficult to leverage third party data for tracking and targeting your prospects, you need to find new ways to engage your customers and build your own first party data assets.
- Build a discipline of agile planning. Given the continued uncertainty in many sectors, marketers need to build more agile plans that can be adapted rapidly as market factors change. Agile planning will allow marketing teams to shift their investments to higher performing campaigns, and reduce or suspend investments in campaigns that are not delivering to expectations. The lack of agile planning in 2020 cost some marketing teams more than half of their annual budgets if they were heavily dependent on physical events.
Will the predicted trailing off of COVID concerns alter how marketers should target their B2B customers?
Targeting B2B marketers is still going to be complex as we (hopefully) get to the other side of the pandemic, Mahoney says.
“One challenge is that employees are quitting at a record rate, especially in mid-career employees and in certain sectors like technology and healthcare. Marketers need to have a strategy to deal with the increased job movement, including tools to track and maintain contact data as people change companies.
“Strategies like direct mail will continue to be difficult for B2B audiences as more and more professional employees are working remotely, making it impractical to send information via the physical mail. If direct mail is in your plan, consider leveraging gifting platforms such as Sendoso or Alyce that allow prospects to securely share home address information to receive physical packages from your campaigns.
“Additionally, physical event attendance is likely to be unpredictable at best, which means that marketers should plan to have a virtual option for all events, even if they are predominantly designed for physical attendance.
How will the new changes to cookies alter marketers’ approaches?
Browser changes and iOS changes for cross-site tracking will make cross-site tracking more difficult for marketers. Third party data is used when marketers use “retargeting” ads to bring a customer back to their website by following those customers across other sites or the web.
Marketers also use third party data when targeting ads on specific sites, like customizing ads on a third party website based on their browsing history.
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Looking forward, marketers should build their own permission-based, first party data sources that they can use to communicate with their customers and prospects.
“To build this data, they need to create value that their customers want to access in exchange for their data, including content assets, free applications or services, and communities to connect their prospects with like-minded professionals,” Mahoney says.