It’s a new year, and the prediction headlines are everywhere. But staying up-to-date can be a little overwhelming. What are the latest B2B marketing trends? What’s the hot new thing to experiment with? What should you leave behind, and what should you keep doing? Personally, when it comes to predictions, we like to turn to a reliable source: proper data. Luckily, now that the 2022 marketing research reports have dropped, there’s plenty to dig into—and plenty to learn from. Hence, we decided to do the heavy lifting for you by combing through it all to identify the most interesting and useful insights to help you craft a truly successful content strategy this year.
10 Ways to Improve Your B2B Marketing in 2022
From influencer marketing to employer branding, here are the top things to think about as you brainstorm ideas, curate your content, and create experiences that build stronger relationships with your audience. Some of these tips are evergreen, some may be of the moment, but all should help you become a better marketer in 2022.
1) Invest in video.
As platforms like TikTok take off, and people are spending less time together in real life, video can do a lot to help you foster a personal, emotional connection with your audience. Whether you’re showcasing behind-the-scenes happenings at your company, entertaining people with short-form content on social, or showing off a new product in a 1-minute explainer video, there are multiple uses for this medium. (It’s no surprise video is only continuing to grow.) In fact, if you’re not already investing in this medium, you are falling behind.
88% of marketers anticipate their company’s video content output to increase in 2022.
Even if you don’t have an enormous budget or an in-house video production team, there are still plenty of ways to produce high-quality video. Find out about the 6 types of video you can create remotely, find out what to look for in a video agency (if you need the help), and see our complete guide to brand video.
Example: Dropbox uses video to communicate in all sorts of ways, from explainer videos, to mini case studies, to fan engagement on social media.
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2) Prioritize purpose.
What does your brand believe in? What are you trying to do for your customers, your employees, your larger community? Why does your brand exist at all? A brand’s purpose is the foundation of its entire business. Without a unified purpose, you can’t keep your team aligned, you can’t make the right decisions, and you can’t effectively connect with the right audience.
In the wake of the social unrest over the last few years, leading with purpose is crucial for both your customers and your employees. The more you put purpose at the center of your decision-making, the more it can benefit your bottom line.
“High-growth brands are 66% more likely to see purpose as a means to guiding employee decision-making, and 41% more likely to have purpose drive the corporate social responsibility investment strategy.”
To ensure your brand is growing in the right direction, make sure you have total clarity on your principles. Use our brand heart workbook to articulate your vision, mission, purpose, and value. With this clarity, you can confidently tell people who you are, what you believe in, and why you do what you do. If you’re not sure how to do that through content marketing, take inspiration from these 10 brands that put their values front and center.
3) Nurture your employer brand.
The Great Resignation is upon us, which means your brand has a huge opportunity to gain—or lose—its best employees. So how do you retain and attract the best and brightest? Focus on building a strong employer brand—and sharing your employer brand with the world.
Whether you’re sharing a company tradition on Instagram or spotlighting employees on your blog, there are all sorts of creative ways you can tell stories about your employer brand. Not only does this transparency make your brand more trustworthy but it also shows customers that you are truly invested in the people who work for you.
59% of working Americans are rethinking their career in order to find more fulfillment from their work.
To incorporate employer brand content into your mix, try these ideas to showcase your culture on social, find out how to tell your employer brand story at every stage of the hiring process, and use our employer brand toolkit to identify what makes your brand special.
Example: IBM has an entire Instagram account dedicated to behind-the-scenes life at the company. It’s a great way for both customers and potential employees to get a sense of their values and culture.
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4) Bring D&I into your marketing.
It’s one thing to issue a generic statement about your commitment to diversity. It’s another to put these “commitments” into practice in concrete and meaningful ways. Deloitte research identifies four key areas where brands can demonstrate D&I commitments: talent acquisition, talent retention, brand messaging, and community investments. And marketing can play a huge role in many of these areas.
57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions.
From the images you use on your website to the stories you tell about your employer brand, marketers have a huge opportunity to not just tell but show how they’re prioritizing D&I across all areas of their organization. Doing this is the best way to remain transparent and accountable to everyone invested in your brand, including your customers, employees, and peers.
Example: We love how transparent Zendesk is about their D&I data. They proudly share demographic data about their company, proving they are open and committed to fostering equality in the workplace.
5) Create hybrid experiences.
The pandemic showed us the power of digital connection as we shifted from in-person gatherings to virtual events. Although restrictions are being lifted, we won’t revert to the way things were. Instead, hybrid experiences will become the norm. While there are benefits to both in-person and digital-only events, a hybrid approach provides more options for people, allowing them to personalize their own experiences.
75% of global executives will invest more in delivering hybrid experiences over the next 12 months.
To curate the right experiences for your audience, you need to know who they are and what they want. Younger audiences might want to engage via social platforms and apps, whereas older audiences may value face-to-face interaction. You can also solicit feedback to better tailor these experiences. (See our guide to map your personas if you need clarity on who your audience is.)
6) Invest in channel-specific content.
As personalization becomes the name of the game, you need to meet people where they’re at, then move them along the path to purchase. This is especially true when it comes to social platforms. It’s no secret that algorithms tend to bury content that leads users away from the platform, so keeping the conversation within social platforms is crucial. Most importantly, you need to tailor content for the specific platform.
71.6% of internet users now search for brand information on social platforms.
Make sure your brand profiles are up-to-date on all social apps, and look for ways to break your content into platform-specific pieces. For example, if you have a lengthy ebook, you might extract a tip to share on Twitter, a chart to share on Instagram, and an excerpt to share on LinkedIn. These are simple ways to tailor content and extend your content’s reach.
Example: Hubspot takes advantage of every social platform, adapting content to connect with each unique audience. Whether it’s simple tips on Twitter, employee spotlights on Instagram, or helpful videos on YouTube, they have mastered the art of channel-specific content.
7) Make micro-influencers your friend.
Influencer marketing isn’t new, and it isn’t going anywhere. But it is changing. It’s not the million-follower influencers that are necessarily going to dominate. The micro-influencers (users with, say, 15,000 followers) have the highest engagement rates and the most loyal followings, so tapping into smaller networks of highly targeted followers may be the better spend.
“Influencers have a 10:1 ROI compared to paid media.”
If influencers aren’t part of your marketing mix yet, consider how they might fit into your strategy. And if you’re worried about how to justify the spend, see our guide to measure the right social metrics to determine ROI.
8) Get visual on social.
Visual content has dominated for years, and as platforms increase their capabilities (e.g., videos, carousels, stories, reels, shorts), there are more ways to engage. It can be overwhelming to think about generating visual content for every single type of format, but just choose a few and focus on ways to incorporate and curate those visuals intentionally.
74% of social content is visual, with picture posts being the most popular.
Microcontent is an easy way to publish visual social media content. For example, you might ask an employee to share a tip for social, then create a graphic that includes that tip and that employee’s headshot. This helps your audience “see” the people behind your brand, gives that employee a chance to shine, and provides helpful information. This is a natural and organic way to use visuals intelligently. Alternatively, a simple data visualization, illustration, or image can be extracted from a large piece of content (e.g., article or ebook) and used to promote on social media. Find out more about how to incorporate microcontent into your strategy.
For business accounts, carousel posts have the highest engagement rates on Instagram. Thus, making multi-graphic posts can be especially impactful.
Example: Divvy is a financial software company that does an excellent job of creating interesting and relevant visual content across platforms. Whether it’s a series of tips or a recounting of financial horror stories, they create much more engaging content than you’d expect from a financial software company.
9) Make sure your online channels tell your full brand story.
People have less time to invest in getting to know your brand, and in a post-pandemic world where everything has gone virtual, consumers are eager to complete the entire customer journey online. (This is especially true in the B2B space.) Thus, all of your brand channels, whether it’s your Twitter account or your website, should be optimized to tell people what they need to know and what they want to know about your brand.
Nearly 90% of B2B buyers use online channels to identify new suppliers, and 74% use it to evaluate whether they want to buy from these suppliers.
Unfortunately, we still see brands leaving their audiences wanting more. Whether it’s an incomplete profile on Instagram, a generic description on a Twitter bio, or a difficult-to-navigate site, re-examine your channels as though you were a first-time buyer.
- Do you effectively articulate who you are/what you do?
- Do you talk about more than your product (e.g., your brand values, beliefs, etc.)?
- Is the path to information clear and intuitive on your website (e.g., navigation, CTAs, etc.)?
- Is there a clear next step?
10) Focus on relationship-building.
Turning total strangers into devoted fans is the end goal of marketing, but it doesn’t happen easily or quickly. To be successful, you need to invest in people, establish relationships, and nurture them—before, during, and after they actually become a customer. As the world goes more and more online, breaking through the screen to cultivate those personal connections is more important than ever. But how do you do that? Make your marketing as personal as possible. This may sound obvious, but far too many brands are guilty of generating boring copy, generic content, and unenticing visuals.
An overwhelming 84% of B2B buyers would buy from a supplier that they had a great relationship with—even if the terms of business were less preferential.
To build stronger relationships through content, brainstorm high-value content ideas, conduct a competitor content audit to find out how you can better position yourself, and learn how empathy can help you build stronger connections.
How to Turn These B2B Marketing Trends into Real Results
We hope these ideas have given you the inspiration you need to craft a strong content strategy in 2022. Of course, we know that creating a strategy and actually executing that strategy are two different things. Ultimately, it comes down to your time, knowledge, and resources. To make sure your team can execute effectively…
- Build the right team. Find out why focusing on roles is smarter than focusing on job titles.
- Optimize your content creation process. Start with our best practices to make content creation easier at every stage.
- Consider outsourcing. Extra hands can help tremendously. Find out how to find an agency with your area of expertise, and learn to build a great working relationship with that agency.
And if you’re on the hunt for an agency right now, feel free to start with us. Find out what it’s like to work with us on a content strategy, see our top 10 FAQs, or reach out directly. We’d love to help you make 2022 your most successful year to date.