COVID-19 forced many B2B marketers into survival mode; abandoning proven channels because prospects were not in the office, eliminating key industries as those businesses or institutions were closed, scrambling to find leads and revenue in an eventless world.
But the seasons are changing. The long, harsh marketing winter of discontent is starting to warm. Shoots are bursting their way out of frozen soil, businesses are starting to reopen.
As infection rates continue to decline and immunization rates increase, people are getting ready to get back to work (as in, physically in the office – not death by Zoom call). Schools are re-opening, restaurants are increasing their capacity, and even movie theaters are welcoming patrons.
The world is turning a corner and B2B marketers need to prepare for the trends ahead.
Are they ready for Spring?
The great digital acceleration of 2020 might slow, but will still grow. In other words, behavior will not revert back. The trends that have driven digital adoption were always there, and the acceleration of digital from the collective year of WFH simply amplified it. McKinsey shows that more than three quarters of B2B buyers prefer digital channels. They are here to stay. B2B brands must either adapt or build upon their digital-centric marketing strategy.
Pre-purchase research has shifted even more to digital, and so too must marketing efforts and assets that support it. Content must be reviewed and overhauled to work with the new digital-centric behavior. Websites must aptly speak to the quality of products and expertise to ensure the user that they have found the best solution even if they don’t speak to a real person. And be prepared to offer up those answers in multiple digital formats to satisfy all users in their journey, from white papers to videos to infographics.
SEO will become more important in successful B2B marketing. For all the changes brought on by COVID-19, search engine traffic remains the most effective tool for inbound marketing. To attract new customers, businesses need to be found easily online.
2021 will see the return of live events, but don’t abandon virtual events. Hopefully, businesses have made some headway with virtual events and it’s important to maintain that focus even with the return to in-person events, perhaps shifting to hybrid events that enrich the live and virtual audiences with engaging content. A recent survey from Outsell, Inc. indicated that there are still a high percentage of peers that will be reluctant to attend live events.
All of this means that marketing machines needs to emerge from hibernation, and need to start planning for the rebound. All indicators show a big bounce back, with pent-up demand and the return of live events. Are businesses’ content machine ready? Are their supply chains ready? Take the time now to sow the seeds for a productive spring and 2021.
Want more tips on what to expect in 2021? Check out the upcoming MeritB2B webinar on Wednesday, March 31st – Spring Reawakening: What B2B Marketers Need to Know Now for 2021. Learn more and register here!