What new B2B marketing developments does 2023 have in store? We asked around in the community and summarized all the important B2B marketing trends for 2023 in this article.
The year 2022 is coming to an end. A year that has demanded a lot from all of us. Who would have expected at the end of 2021 that war, inflation, and the energy crisis would shape our lives? So time to look ahead. What awaits us in 2023? Nobody can predict that exactly, but inflation and the energy crisis will most likely keep us busy in the coming year. This is exactly why you should plan these developments into your B2B marketing as best you can.
The trend dossier 2023
Which B2B marketing trends should you also consider for 2023? We asked around in the industry and got opinions from B2B marketers from the CXO community.
B2B Marketing Trend 1: Sustainability
Sustainability in B2B – even if you certainly can’t or don’t want to hear it anymore, it will also be a trending topic in 2023. For at least 40 percent of SMEs, sustainability is already the topic of the hour, according to the results of a study by visable from 2022.
The environmental awareness of B2B buyers is having an increasing impact on their behavior in the business context. According to a study by ECC Cologne and Adobe, 68 percent of online business orders ensure that their carbon footprint is as minimal as possible. Marketers can take this into account in their communication, for example by offering CO2 compensation for their website. Since the website is often the first thing that interested parties or customers consciously look at, you can use a climate-neutral website to show your attitude towards climate protection right from the start and credibly underline your sustainability strategy. But the more multimedia content you have on your company website installed, the more energy is required, which in turn results in a higher CO2 offset. Also interesting: An e-mail is just as harmful to the climate as a plastic bag. An e-mail without an attachment is responsible for around ten grams of carbon dioxide. This means that by doing without unnecessary emails or newsletters, we protect the environment.
Paper can, in turn, be saved by simply sending product catalogs by e-mail in a PDF format rather than by post. This still produces the 10 grams of CO2 mentioned above, but it is significantly less than printing on paper. You should also ask yourself at your events how much analog material you need at your events. Here, too, companies can be role models for sustainable event design and save paper and prints. With apps, all the necessary event information can be displayed digitally, is usually clearer, and offers additional functions such as communication between the participants. Gone are the days of throwaway merchandise. Ask yourself what the target group can really use: notebooks made of grass paper,
B2B companies can also gain a clear competitive advantage by anchoring sustainability in the company and firmly including it in their communication mix.
With this timetable, you can:
- 1. Create lasting awareness in the company: Companies should start with small measures within the company in order to increase credibility with their customers and other important stakeholders. But it doesn’t work without employee support. That means involving your employees. What ideas and easy-to-implement measures do your employees have? Providing an e-vehicle fleet or subsidizing public transport are just a few examples. This gives your employees the opportunity to test e-bikes and the like and perhaps even win them over.
- 2. Transparency in the products: If certain values, such as respect for nature and people, are observed, then you should communicate this very clearly to the outside world. The use of seals is a good idea here. The reduction in packaging material also underlines their environmental awareness. It is most sustainable when the lifespan of the product is extended. You should therefore also offer maintenance services.
- 3. Communication of sustainability: If you have successfully implemented all of this, then it’s time for communication. Why not publish your initiatives in a sustainability report or with the help of sustainability indicators in the company’s annual report? A little tip: The Institute for Economic Research (IÖW) and future eV also regularly publish sustainability rankings of companies. Anyone who ranks well here can build up a positive image.
B2B Marketing Trend 2: Employer Branding
The skills shortage is getting worse every year. While there were still almost 590,000 vacancies on the market in September 2020, two years later there are already 873,000 vacancies. This corresponds to an increase of almost 48 percent. Therefore, now is the time to write employer branding on your to-do list. Employer branding is about the strategic orientation of your own employer brand in order to present yourself as an attractive employer and to stand out from other competitors in the job market. This will already be the case for 62 percent of B2B marketers in 2022, according to the results of a study by bvik. What is often still missing, however, is a concrete employer branding strategy. It is precisely this that must be developed in cooperation with various stakeholders. An interesting employer branding strategy can only succeed if personnel, marketing, and management (+ communication department if necessary) work together.
It is more important than ever that, in addition to recruiting new staff, the workforce also remains happy, healthy, and motivated. Happy employees make happy customers, and your own team could be your greatest marketing asset. When employees are balanced, they often act as a kind of corporate influencer themselves. For this, it is important that the team spirit is not forgotten.
Gartner predicts that by 2023, 90 percent of B2B companies will use employer branding and employee advocacy as part of their social media marketing strategy. Employer advocacy means that company news, press releases, and postings are no longer only shared via the company’s official social media channels, but also by the employees. But not only social media should be used as a touchpoint in employer marketing. Depending on who your employee target group is, cooperation with universities, colleges, or vocational schools may also be an option.
Our tip: the right mix makes the difference. It is important that an employer brand is only well received if it is supported by management and exemplified by the management level.
B2B Marketing Trend 3: Video Marketing
Video marketing is not just for B2C. B2B can also create exciting images. And yes, user-generated content is also possible, although significantly more creativity is required than in the end customer business. The clear advantage of video marketing: Whether videos on YouTube or other social networks, they all get a lot of attention. Videos can also be used both organically and as ads, making them great for content recycling.
The integration of videos on landing pages is also worthwhile. Using it can increase the conversion rate by up to 70 percent. In addition, 90 percent of B2C and B2B customers stated in a study that videos help them in the purchasing decision-making process. One more reason to include moving images in your marketing mix.
Relevant formats in video marketing:
- explanatory film
- multimedia presentation
- event film
- image film
- exhibition film
- Multimedia report
- product film
- video ad
B2B Marketing Trend 4: Cookieless Future
2023 will probably go down in the history books because then the beloved third-party cookies will end. But how can you still display your advertising appropriately and track it? Many experts see a solution in first-party cookies. First-party cookies are set by the website on which a user is currently surfing. They are not accessible from browsers across domains. A third-party cookie, on the other hand, is set by a third party, i.e. not the website on which the visitor is currently located. Customers trust this First data significantly more because they give more control over the data. In addition to the high level of trust that customers place in them, such data is also more effective than data from third parties. B2B companies should therefore definitely use them. For example, a good source of first-party data is email marketing.
Google itself follows the so-called privacy sandbox. This is Google’s vision of a cookie successor. The aim of the sandbox is to obtain as much data as possible from personalized advertising, but at the same time to restrict the flow of information in such a way that advertisers can no longer unrestrictedly monitor users’ web activities. The privacy sandbox is currently still in pre-testing and should be rolled out to all users in the third quarter of 2023. A year later, in Q3 2024, all third-party cookies are to be finally discontinued.
But there are other ways to bypass third-party cookies:
- Contextual targeting: With this AI-supported targeting, the advertisement is placed after the occurrence of certain keywords. On top of that, this contextual advertising is (still) very compliant with data protection, which is why it is becoming increasingly popular.
- Semantic targeting: With this method, not only individual keywords are searched, but entire texts are analyzed and main topics are determined. The appropriate campaigns are then determined and placed.
- Universal IDs: With this technology, users should be uniquely identified. Here, first-party cookies are combined with offline data to form a “universal ID”, which is why advertisers can continue to display personalized and target group-specific advertising.
B2B Marketing Trend 5: Personalization
We are all certainly familiar with personalized advertising in our private everyday lives. According to Trakken ‘s “Digital Analytics & Marketing Activation” trend study, 59 percent of the B2C and B2B companies surveyed are working on personalization projects to promote conversion optimization, especially in e-commerce. The aim is to optimize and ideally increase the number of e-commerce users who perform a specific action. The personalization trend is here to stay.
Here are three things you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition through personalization:
- 1. Personalized campaigns: Campaigns are a good tool for online shops to push certain products or to sell discontinued models. If these campaigns are now linked with personalized content, then the individual customer approach will succeed.
- 2. Personalized advice: Many customers in the online world lack personal advice. In addition to substituting functions for the lack of tactile properties of products, such as meaningful product photos and videos or augmented reality functions, personalized advice has also found its way into e-commerce. An online product advisor can take on the role of a classic salesperson and thus support the shop customer in selecting a product.
- 3. Personalized shopping stream: Customer loyalty is still a challenge for many. One way to emotionally and sustainably bind customers to the online shop and a real highlight in terms of personalization is the use of a shopping stream for each individual customer. This is a personalized area in the online shop in which customers receive entertaining content in addition to product recommendations tailored to their customer’s requirements, individual product sets, and shopping news. Each shopping stream is individually designed in terms of layout and design as well as in terms of the content played.
B2B Marketing Trend 6: Metaverse
Another trending topic is entering the metaverse. Virtual rooms are becoming more and more part of our everyday lives. Whether B2C or B2B, companies have to deal with the metaverse because it will be highly relevant in the future. If you believe futurologists, the next logical step in the development of the Internet could even be ignited with the Metaverse. This is also confirmed by a current study by Citi GPS. The market for the Metaverse economy could grow to between eight and thirteen trillion dollars.
The possibilities in the Metaversum are diverse: Whether it’s your own brand world, a virtual showroom, or events: there are no limits to creativity in virtual space. Unlike a website, for example, the user journey is difficult to navigate. In virtual space, users want to explore things themselves and decide when to turn left or right.
Advertising formats are also already being used in the Metaverse. Classic display advertising, as we know it from the online area, can also be implemented in the Metaversum. Videos, banners, and ads are already being used extensively. It is exciting that programmatic advertising is already possible. Avatars and individual parcels, i.e. properties in the metaverse, can already be targeted. When a user is out and about in the virtual world, personalized advertising formats are played out to him in real-time. If he moves further in the metaverse, these disappear and reappear on other surfaces, provided the context fits. Everything that happens in the wallet, i.e. the user’s digital purse, can be viewed and used for programmatic advertising.
So far, this has mainly been possible in isolation in virtual space. But soon the boundaries to reality could disappear. Apple is planning to launch its first generation of AR glasses soon. With these, users could, for example, walk through the shopping arcade in a few years. If they then looked into a shop window, the system would play out automated ads. For example: “Trousers are available in your size and are now even 20 percent cheaper – take a look!” That would be the beginning of unprecedented customer experiences.
Individual advertising formats are also possible. However, these always have to be rebuilt, which makes the new form of advertising very expensive. An example of this comes from the Bundeswehr, which used the Metaversum for an employer branding event. A stand was created in the virtual world “Decentraland” where users can watch a trailer for the recruiting web series “Semper Talis”. Once this trailer has been watched in full, users can claim a wearable in the form of a Guard Battalion t-shirt as an NFT. This is strictly limited and can be accessed in the avatar’s virtual wardrobe in every metaverse after receipt. In addition to the programmatic switching in the Metaverse, the event has also been announced in the Decentraland calendar. Calendars in virtual rooms are like bulletin boards, as we know them from real life. These can be viewed by all users at central locations in the virtual world and describe current and future events.
B2B Marketing Trend 7: Personal Branding
But what is the top priority in marketing for the coming year? In the trend study by eMinded, 120 marketing managers from the DACH region state that in 2023 lead generation will be the top priority at almost 77 percent. It is not surprising that almost as many (75 percent) rely on online channels such as social media and their own website for lead generation. The focus is primarily on social ads.
Also not surprising: Almost 31 percent of those surveyed indicated LinkedIn as the strongest online channel. Search engine marketing follows with 25 percent (SEA) and 20 percent ( SEO ). E-mail marketing comes in fourth with 12 percent.
LinkedIn in particular will continue to be of great importance in 2023. Social network is more popular than ever in B2B. For example, the number of members in the DACH region rose from 17 million in September 2021 to 19 million in October 2022. Sales staff should therefore join the social network and start a social selling strategy by next year at the latest. Social selling is about strengthening customer relationships with other members through active social media behavior and thereby generating leads.
To boost lead generation marketing on LinkedIn, users should keep the following things in mind:
1. An optimized LinkedIn profile: It is the business card of your digital presence. Carefully maintain your profile with an attractive photo, business card, and LinkedIn banner. Next, you should choose a good profile slogan. It’s better to be short and concise than long and boring. Too much text in the title can make it seem like you’re trying too hard.
2. Publishing interesting content: It is also important to create your own content on LinkedIn. With it, you can build a stronger connection with your LinkedIn audience. Implementing such a strategy allows you to nurture leads, thereby attracting new customers. Which content works exactly always depends on your target group.
But there are types of content that often perform well:
- Content with high added value: advice or tips
- Authority Content: Numbers, dates, facts, or success stories
- Inspirational Content: Stories that evoke emotions
- Negative content: the biggest problems
3. Community Building: Good content is useless if it doesn’t reach anyone. It is therefore important to connect with relevant stakeholders at an early stage. By commenting on other postings, you get involved and thus generate attention. This increases the number of followers almost by itself.
B2B Marketing Trend 8: (Corporate) Influencer Marketing
Well-known influencers with large reach from the B2C area certainly know many. Influencer marketing B2B, actually also works via classic influencers. Past developments have shown that influencers are becoming increasingly critical when choosing their cooperation partners. Therefore, brands should focus on building relationships with influencers who identify with the brand and strive for long-term cooperation. Because: Especially in the B2B area, the “brand fit” is crucial. If a company has identified content creators with the right expertise and good campaign results, it must continuously invest in building up the collaboration. Influencers who have worked with a company for a long time increasingly understand the brand, its products, and services, and can thus communicate authentically with the target group.
A second way how influencer marketing can succeed in B2B is through your own corporate influencers. Own employees report here about the company on social networks such as LinkedIn. Employees give insight into their everyday work or discuss current events or trends. This creates authenticity in the audience. Credibility works better than any HR advertisement. Employer branding and B2B branding succeed in no time at all. But not every employee is suitable as a corporate influencer. An opinion maker must be well selected because it is important to build up a large network and feed it with content on a regular basis. For example, if you have no motivation to post, you will never be able to deliver authentic content.
A key difference between B2C and B2B influencer marketing is that the effect of influencer marketing strategies only becomes visible later. This is because B2B purchasing decisions are often more nuanced and complex than those of B2C consumers. Therefore, influencer cooperation should be designed and planned for the long term. You should therefore cooperate with influencers in the B2B sector for at least half a year – better a whole year – in order to generate significant marketing success.
Current trends in influencer marketing in a nutshell:
- Niche influencers expand subject areas: Influencers are constantly evolving. The expectation of the followers that their role model deals with a wide variety of topics is implemented by the influencers. In this way, new niches are created in which the respective protagonist finds himself.
- Storytelling instead of product placement: users are becoming more and more oversaturated with advertising. It is therefore important to pick them up with emotional experiences and stories.
- Imperfect content creates authenticity: In the past, the trend was to only show the perfect world. Nowadays, users value authentic, real-life content. You follow people and companies that show themselves in difficult situations.
B2B Marketing Trend 9: Analytics Alternatives
As early as 2022, Google announced that it would discontinue its Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. Universal Analytics, also known as Google Analytics, is currently used by many marketers to measure their website engagement.
Marketing managers now have the option of using either a new Google solution called “Google Analytics 4” (GA4) or other analytics programs. While Universal Analytics is particularly good at tracking website engagement, the new GA4 aims to do even more. It combines well with marketing websites, e-commerce sites, native apps, and web apps, providing a comprehensive view of how users are interacting with the entire brand. No matter which solution marketers choose, they should back up all old data from Universal Analytics at an early stage and invest in the new system now. This ensures that the analytic solution can also collect enough data for comparative analysis.
But why is the change happening? The pressure on advertisers is increasing due to privacy regulations and product changes. Browsers are blocking more and more ads, and third-party cookies are slowly becoming obsolete. This makes it increasingly difficult for advertisers to measure the performance of their campaigns. This leads to more importance being attached to organic content and SEO because if B2B marketers can’t target users, they need to find a way to bring users to them.
B2B Marketing Trend 10: Presence events
The events industry had to take a lot in the past two years. But she learned a lot from this: events do not necessarily have to be face-to-face events. Many formats can be held very well as a purely online event because this means that the audience is much more flexible and not tied to a single location. The webinar is one such format, example. Longer events can also take place purely online, but perhaps they shouldn’t. Because: In B2B marketing, proximity to the customer is essential.
Currently, it seems as if the pandemic is becoming endemic. That is why companies are now increasingly relying on face-to-face events again. Last year, 50 percent expected of companies would attend more face-to-face events in 2022 than in 2021. This trend is expected to continue in 2023 as companies recognize the value of face-to-face contact in attracting leads and building long-term customer relationships. But because many people have now learned to appreciate the advantages of digital events, marketers should definitely offer highlights in their face-to-face events. Give your customers a reason why they should come to you. In the best case, the visitor even creates user-generated content through his participation. User-generated content can be, for example, images, reviews, videos or blog articles. This type of content enjoys a special authenticity and thus generates attention for your brand “for free”.