Think Beyond, a marketing consultancy in Cheshire, explores how to prime your marketing strategy for changing B2B and B2C marketing landscapes, and how marketing leaders are gearing up for 2021.
With COVID-19 disruption, many marketers must adapt and forge a new path for 2021. Getting left behind will not cut it in the competitive, post-pandemic markets and so we have done the hard work for you with this guide. We hope you enjoy reading it.
B2B marketing trends 2021
According to the CMO survey, B2B is more optimistic about the economy in the wake of COVID-19 than B2C. Estimates for the next 12 months suggest that B2B product and B2B service companies expect marketing spend to increase.
Here’s how we predict that extra budget will be allocated:
Account-based marketing (ABM) to become standard
Account-based marketing offers high ROI, increased deal size, and maximised opportunities via cross-sell and upsell. ABM is a “new level of collaboration with sales teams” (Salesforce) that aims to deliver on buyer expectations.
Over half of all ABM programmes use automation to provide tailored customer journeys, with frameworks growing in sophistication.
Digital is not going away
The CMO survey is clear on this point, “customers’ increased value placed on digital experience will stay high and never return to pre-pandemic levels.”
26.5 per cent of companies anticipate a pre-pandemic digital marketing budget in the next month so the race is on to get digitally fit. However, in the rush to the (digital) finish, nearly half of brands forego a digital strategy so measuring what works is difficult, if not impossible.
Influencers for large gains
LinkedIn and company blogs are the focus of B2B influencer activities. Spend on influencer marketing increases year on year to an estimated 12.7 per cent of the marketing budget in three years’ time. Specifically, influencer usage will surge in banking and professional services.
Growth from partnerships
B2B service companies will focus on partnerships in the coming year. Identified as a long-term growth driver, exploring and building new partnerships is key for smaller companies (those <£20 million in revenue).
In contrast, spending on organic growth from internal sources continues it’s steady decline, first witnessed in 2015.
B2C marketing trends 2021
What does the future hold for B2C marketers in the wake of brand building and customer retention during the pandemic? We predict that AI, brand values, mobile and social spend, and expansion into new go-to markets will shape B2C marketing trends for 2021. Let’s look at these trends in more detail below:
AI will blaze the way for customer experience
“New normals” give renewed importance to personalised engagement. A simple “insert first name here” in an email no longer cuts it (and hasn’t cut it for a while). Rather, as Salesforce’s study suggests, marketers must deliver “messages and offers that resonate with an individual’s unique needs and expectations.”
In order to gain the deep insights required to personalise the customer experience, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will increase.
Brands want to “do good”
According to the CMO Survey, responses to “doing good” increased during the pandemic. As we move away from the height of COVID-19, trust is now a customer’s top priority.
In summary, now is the time to evaluate your brand and brand strategy. What do your customers really think of you? How does your brand compare with your competitors? And how do you communicate your value?
Mobile and social media are where it’s at
Spending on mobile and social media peaked during the pandemic. Spend on mobile will grow over the next 12 months and there is a renewed awareness of mobile website optimisation. By comparison, app creation and maintenance will take a backseat. However, social media marketing spend will stay at new record high levels.
New go-to-markets require agile approaches
Transforming go-to-market models remains a priority for B2C product companies. Agile marketing approaches enter the spotlight as organisations dynamically adapt their marketing strategy. Agile marketing puts the customer at the centre of the sales experience with fast response, experimentation, and collaboration. Furthermore, agile marketing can save you money by not putting all of your eggs into one basket with a risky “big bang” product or service launch.
Marketing leadership in 2021
B2B or B2C, how are marketing leaders preparing for the challenges of 2021? Let’s take a look at where their priorities will lie in the coming year.
Innovation is key
Shifting behaviours and expectations from customers, business, and society as a whole are forcing marketing transformation. Innovation is a major challenge for marketing in 2021 according to the CMO Survey.
The new sales and marketing funnel holds marketing as custodians of engagement, conversion, and retention. Crucially, Salesforce found that “marketers are under tremendous pressure to overhaul their organisational models and use of technology to provide differentiated, digital-first customer engagement”.
In short, innovation is marketing leaders’ number one priority.
Rich customer experiences
Connecting with customers and building trust post-pandemic increases the need for customer marketing and customer experience. Indeed, 84 per cent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services – up from 80 per cent in 2018. As a result, marketing leaders are leading initiatives on customer experience and advocacy. Real-time, emphatic engagement is the order of the day.
Tracking key metrics
Finally, Salesforce describes a post-pandemic world as a “shift from crisis triage to recovery and adaptation”. They contend that “marketers have a unique opportunity to turn trusted customer relationships into business value.” The tracking of key metrics such as customer lifetime value (LTV) and customer satisfaction are on the up, giving a “holistic picture” of what is working and what is not.
Additionally, marketing leaders are the ones who have to have the right KPIs and tracking in place so this is a place to invest now. But, how do you develop leadership in marketing? Essential skills for marketing leaders include focus, communication, and resilience.
And why does this matter now? According to the CMO Survey, 62.3 per cent of marketers believe the pandemic has made marketing more important than ever. In simple terms, marketing has claimed a seat at the table and is actively driving the company agenda. Furthermore, a dedicated marketing director on board is proven to help you to grow revenue by up to eight per cent.
Planning for 2021
Now is the time to think beyond COVID-19. Now is the time to prepare your marketing strategy and leadership team for 2021. Focusing on your plan now for 2021 will pay dividends.