B2B Marketing Trends: What to Expect in 2022
The digital marketing landscape is more competitive than ever — and if you’re not prepared, you’re already behind.
Here are four B2B marketing trends to implement (or at the very least, be on the lookout for) in 2022.
B2B Marketing Technology Trends
Trend #1: Consolidation of martech systems
We see digital marketing headed toward consolidated tech stacks with strong integrations. While many systems claim to have hundreds of integrations, it’s the quality of those integrations that matters — and often only a small percentage of those are true integrations.
“When we talk to marketers, one of their biggest challenges is getting data to flow efficiently across their systems,” says Winters.
Forrester predicts that “marketing leaders will turn to smarter (more autonomous and automated) solutions with complex tech stacks” — and we couldn’t agree more.
Forrester also predicts that marketing tech budgets will increase from 19% to 25% in 2022. We expect to see B2B companies investing more money into fewer, but better tools in order to streamline their systems, improve workflows, increase productivity, and ultimately see a stronger return on investment.
“While there is an abundance of data available, the ability to bring those datasets together to cleanse, normalize, and route the data is key,” says Nick Winters, senior vice president of products and growth at FHG.
Trend #2: Intent-first, account-based targeting
By now, most marketers are well acquainted with account-based marketing (ABM). In fact, 70% of marketers reported using account-based marketing (ABM) in 2021, and we expect that number to grow in 2022. Forrester also foresees growth marketing on the rise, with more than 50% of marketers aligning their demand and ABM programs in 2022.
“This indicates that within a few years we should expect people won’t be thinking about ABM and demand separately — it’ll be part of the same objective,” Winters says.
The most critical aspect of a successful ABM program is a very targeted account list of companies with the intent to purchase, and last year represented a tipping point for intent data in marketing departments. According to research firm Ascend2, about 70% of marketers either had intent strategies in place or were introducing intent as part of their toolkit in 2021.
Prioritizing intent signals at the beginning of your marketing efforts will not only help to drive new business, but also retain and expand opportunities with current customers, and even resurface closed-lost opportunities.
“Time-to-value with ABM has been a big challenge,” Winters says. “Now, with cutting-edge technology, you can immediately integrate your third-party data with your first-party data and send out targeted campaigns very quickly.”
Trend #3: Mainstream adoption of multi-channel B2B ads
Historically, social media ads have been dominated by B2C companies (with the exception of LinkedIn). This is because audiences on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are consumers looking to shop, rather than professionals looking for business opportunities — something that’s reflected in the platforms’ targeting filters.
“They offer filters like gender and behavior, but that’s not entirely helpful because I have no idea if the VP of IT that I’m targeting likes to golf,” Winters says.
However, new ABM technology will enable B2B businesses to build custom audiences with filters such as industry, headcount, and financials, and automatically push those targeted lists out on social media.
“It will be much easier for B2B marketers to add the filters that matter to create automated, targeted campaigns in the year to come,” Winters says.
As people increasingly consume their information in different places, expanding your presence is important. But there’s not just one platform to consider — as Winters notes, the number of digital ad platforms has increased in the past few years to include providers like Hulu, Pandora, and even Instacart. Buying committees are also growing, making a multi-channel presence more important than ever.
“We see website traffic retargeting as the must-have in your advertising program,” says Winters. “This is easily the most qualified audience your company has, and the cost to stay in front and top of mind with them is minimal.”
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Trend #4: Cross-functional marketing and sales visibility
The relationship between marketing and sales has traditionally gone something like this: marketing brings a lead to sales, sales pursue the lead. After that, marketing’s job is done. It’s an antiquated system.
“In my opinion, the new method isn’t a funnel but rather a ping pong table,” Winters says. “Marketing will ping a lead to sales, and sales will say the prospect is not ready to buy, and they will pong it back to you. You give them air cover and ping it back to sales. And it goes on and on.”
To support this ping-pong action, sales and marketing teams need to share data and operate out of the same platform. When sales and marketing have real-time visibility into each other’s actions, they can make informed decisions about whom they’re trying to reach and when to reach them.
For example, maybe a sales rep has a meeting with a decision-maker at a prospective account. If a marketer can see that in real-time, they can identify the rest of the buying committee and send out ads to those stakeholders immediately after the call. That way, if the decision-maker goes to discuss the tool with their colleagues, they may already be familiar with it.
The connection and cooperation between marketing and sales in the tech industry is closer than ever before. For other industries, 2022 is a perfect time to take a cue from tech and get better aligned.
“Companies outside of tech are just beginning to dip their toes into systematic prospecting and sales enablement, following the tech sales ops pioneers for the last decade,” he says. “In some ways, it’s new and exciting, and in other ways, the playbook has been written and the path is lit.”
How B2B Marketing Will Change in 2022
Better technology is helping B2B marketers capitalize on the tools that have previously been reserved for their consumer counterparts. But it’s not as simple as buying ads on Facebook and tossing leads over the wall to sales.
To take full advantage of these B2B marketing trends, practitioners need to make sure their tools are grounded in high-quality data and can effectively connect with sales systems. Marketers who take an informed approach will find themselves ahead of the curve when it comes time to make next year’s predictions.