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Chantelle Duff, Business Director

- 14 Jan 2021

B2B Digital Marketing

GUIDE

AUTHOR
Chantelle Duff

Business Director

Chantelle is a digital marketing powerhouse with 10 years of experience. Her creativity and problem-solving skills are legendary. When it comes to strategic direction, Chantelle thrives on thinking outside the box. This unique approach allows her to gain a deep understanding of her clients' businesses and unlock their full growth potential.

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OVERVIEW

2020 was a whirlwind and the B2B industry was no exception. We saw more people go online for answers, and companies were expected to provide them. Going into 2021, the B2B industry is continuing this focus to make sense of what’s happening and share the impact on both customers and the wider industry.

Data was at the heart of B2B success in 2020 and we fully expect that to continue through 2021, with a focus on providing insights that inform consumer purchasing decisions and conversion paths.

However, every channel has a part to play in that journey, so we’re sharing some of the dos and don’ts and what to expect in 2021 for B2B marketing.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO.

SEO.

Brand traffic is huge for B2B, and businesses should be focusing on how they can optimise that journey for audiences. That means a focus on owning your brand results – not just ranking in position 1 for brand terms, but dominating page 1; appearing in local listings, PAAs, featured snippets, image search and the knowledge panel. We strongly expect structured data, local listing features and additional SERP feature optimisation to play a huge part in strategies for B2B companies in 2021. Brand isn’t going anywhere, and with it, SEOs need to be looking at how they dominate the space for both pure-brand terms and brand-generics. A focus on intent is going to be stronger than ever in 2021. Companies need to know exactly what and how to serve content to meet the intent of the queries that led to it.

For those businesses with a high lead value, users that are ready to convert (for example, search for brand generic keywords) should be landing on highly relevant landing pages (optimised for UX of course), leading to a better conversion rate. If your landing pages don’t match the intent or needs of the audience then they are not only not going to perform well from a conversion perspective, but also won’t rank well to bring the audience to you in the first place.

We’re also expecting B2B companies to start looking internationally in 2021. 2020 broke down the barriers usually faced by B2B industries, and with everyone moving online, location became less of a driving factor for conversions. With more people working remotely than ever before, locations carry less weight in digital, but more weight in targeting. An agency SEO team like ours can help support your in-house teams in understanding which services are priorities in particular regions, helping you expand successfully in new markets.

PAID MEDIA.

Invest in feeding in more lead data, especially if your business has a long lead cycle. The more information that is fed back into platforms, the more informed optimisations (and results) will be. This is particularly true with the rise of automation allowing for bidding strategies to focus on conversions

– if platforms only have the number of conversions on site to go on, not how many of those turned into actual leads and opportunities, then they will continue optimising for volume even though quality might not be there. Closing this loop is going to be the key for success in B2B across Biddable Media through 2021, and will not only improve the quality and value of conversions driven, but provide another layer of data to apply to audience targeting.

With more and more people spending time online and seeing more ads than ever, businesses need to hone in on what makes them truly different, relevant to the audience you’re targeting of course. A blanket Biddable approach just won’t do, dynamic personalised ads are not just for B2C companies.

Instead, a focus on standing out from the competition, either through USP promotion or early adoption of new betas for testing, is going to be pivotal to engaging with your audiences and earning their clicks.

For targeting, if you have first party data, use it in other social platforms to create lookalike audiences and reach people outside of LinkedIn. For placements, don’t be afraid to try YouTube or Discovery ads.

Discovery ads can form an essential part of your B2B strategy, with longer lead times it’s important to warm prospects from all angles and keep your brand front of mind.

We expect the advances in targeting across both Search and Social platforms to lead to better understanding of your audience makeup, and with that a better understanding of how and where your audience wants to connect with you.

DATA.

We’d like to see more companies joining up their entire customer data journey; from an initial impression through to a qualified lead. We want to see a bottom line profit-per-impression metric for B2B marketing. With this, we can have a proper data-driven attribution model to guide business decisions around marketing and build faith in its worth. It seems about time we should have better visibility into this – we can do it. We have the technology. There’s a gap to overcome but it’s all in a day’s work for a data specialist (figuratively speaking).

We also expect the reliance on data to shift in 2021 for B2B companies – moving from seeing it as a one-off research piece to an always-on monitoring mechanism. Companies are going to be looking to data to try and inform what they should be doing throughout the year and, with many unable to rely on 2020 performance trends, will be looking to data science to help model predictive trends and the implications of different scenarios on both marketing decisions and business decisions.

CONTENT.

Throw out the rulebook!
Just kidding, but relax some of the rules. Office life has changed beyond recognition which means B2B content needs to adapt. Find the right balance between professional and self awareness and you’ll hit gold. With fewer boundaries between home and work, how can content either solve or take advantage of this problem? Food for thought in 2021.

Your audience isn’t going to stop needing you overnight. They will still be looking to you for advice and guidance and support as they make their own business decisions. That means you need to be creating content that they need to see. Whether that is FAQs on service pages to help reassure them, or analysis pieces on the industry to show you’re the experts in your field, to platform walkthrough videos to show them how easy you are to work with; every audience will have a different requirement and it is up to the content team to make sure those needs are met.

THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO.

SEO.

Stop chasing high volume keywords. 15% of all queries every day have never been searched before – that’s approximately 3.5 billion searches.
And we know that B2B industries tend to have lower search volumes than others already. So just focusing on high volume terms is going to be missing what your audience actually needs. Look for new opportunities, emerging trends and topics, and understand the intent of those queries to start building a semantic connection between your content and the wider picture.

Don’t invest in every single SEO tactic just because; review the impact of previous year’s above the line budgets on digital to see how all activity impacted the bottom line. You don’t necessarily need to do everything to get results, data will show you which growth levers will have the biggest impact. Use this information to inform where your focuses should be, and constantly revisit it to make sure your SEO strategy is still delivering the best performance against your objectives.

PAID MEDIA.

Stop relying on LinkedIn as much. People’s working patterns have changed and with the line between home and work being blurred more than ever there is a great opportunity to capitalise on customers being elsewhere. Look to other social platforms and websites they might be visiting, and make sure you’re there when they are searching.

On that note, refrain from doing as many webinars. Since lockdown, everything has been in video form and webinar creation has gone through the roof.

Things that used to be unique have now been done a million times so new ways to stand out from the crowd need to be found. Look for new formats, in-depth reports and whitepapers, even try your hand at podcasts, but do explore new ways to reach your audience that aren’t going to get lost in the noise with everyone else.

Finally, stop going super granular in Social to try and hit the perfect people! This can reduce the pool of people too much, hindering real results. Set specific goals for your social campaigns and don’t underestimate the power of reach to drive awareness. Work with your Social and Data teams to connect the dots and understand the value each piece of content shared on social has had on your overall objectives.

DATA.

Businesses should stop gatekeeping their data and be more open with marketing teams to allow them to draw greater insight into marketing activity. We’re moving into a cookie- less world where first party data will reign. That also means marketing teams need to stop only relying on marketing data – use business data, sales data, industry insights and more to really connect the dots and start adding value to your existing strategies.

As we always say, a strategy is only as good as the data that powers it, and if you’re only looking at one source you’re going to be missing out on a huge amount of opportunity.

CONTENT.

Stop doing webinars! At the very least stop doing webinars that offer no value beyond a recording you
can access at any time. For something really fresh, try a timed event with no recording for some urgency, or work with real audience needs that can be addressed with journalistic flair. Level up or get lost in the incessant webinar noise on LinkedIn (and other social platforms). These timed events can also be marketed across SEO and Biddable Media channels so help to increase reach beyond just another webinar to add to your resources section.

It’s also likely that conferences will continue to be online in 2021 – work with conference providers to make sure you are able to engage with attendees on their platform, just like you would in real life, and make sure your audience knows that with content write ups in the lead up to the events.

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We’re a multi award-winning, digital growth agency who move fast, work smart and deliver insanely great results. If you’d like to find out how we can power your marketing performance, get in touch.

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