How to plan your B2B Marketing Strategy for 2021?

13 Nov

How to plan your B2B Marketing Strategy for 2021?

If the strategy is our path to success, then this year's success was mostly related to account-based marketing and strategy centered around consumers like value-based sales. And it is important to know that it will continue and even expand in a whole new dimension throughout 2021.

Consumers' behavior changed significantly in the last year. In this article, we will try to address how marketing technologies can be used to increase the effectiveness of marketing activities and the key challenges in implementing and running marketing strategies and solutions to deliver actual business results.

 

In uncertainty, moving from key marketing and sales strategies to a larger number of small tactics is key to successful outcomes

Moving to a larger number of small bets, things that had somewhat more incremental change rather than a general one-way focus may be critical to your success in 2021. This will allow you to test things that actually could work and identify some of the new customer and buyer behaviors.

 

Agile marketing is key to your marketing strategy success

Do you have an annual planning strategy process, or is it every two years or more? If so, you need to review and, when necessary, update your strategy more frequently and to be truly adaptive. To accommodate agile concepts in your marketing operations and planning, reviewing the plan whenever a change happens is critical.

This year, exploring uncertainty was the core practice for most businesses. Mapping channel investments and execution against evolving customer journeys and readjusting it as the customer behavior evolves became critical. And in this times, you should ensure your journey mapping methodologies are adaptable to a changing environment by using data and insights to test rapidly, monitor, and adjust.

Although we all live in turbulent times of total uncertainty, a number of industries have taken a big hit like the airline or tourism ones. In contrast, others even benefited from this crisis. Most B2B have managed to salvage much better for their business results than initially predicted.

The winners of COVID are by far video streaming, e-commerce sites, and most anything that can be delivered via digital channels. Industries like retail, banks, telecom solutions were able to capitalize only at the level that they could pivot to online channels.

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Build your buyer journey with a mix of digital touchpoints

With customers that now use a mix of digital touchpoints along the buying journey, for example, in the discovery phase and evaluation part of the journey, search engines and social media feeds became critical for moving the customer up the nurturing sales funnel.

In general, over the last year, according to Salesforce data, 40% of shoppers are making purchases through social media. For example, according to recent data, 80% of all B2B sales this year were generated through LinkedIn. This is why you may want to consider a buyer journey build on proven data and insights that heavily relies on social and virtual sales.

The customer still faces silos across the channels, accessing multiple touchpoints during the purchase. Given the underutilization of marketing technologies, there is a significant disconnect within the companies between these channels, little alignment, and coherence. According to Deloitte data, a big part of even B2B customers, around 50%, say that they feel they are communicating with separate departments and not with one company. And when it comes to service issues, 70% of the customers expect all reps to have centralized account information.

 

Digital is the new reality, and digital sale is mainstream

Digital sales become the standard, more and more engaging and accessible when everybody's working from home. Digital sales grew by 80% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same quarter last year, and of course, profit increased by 30% for companies that pivoted to digital sales. 

We also saw exponential increases in web traffic and digital marketing engagement turning into the mainstream buying channels for your products and services.

Digital online is the new reality. And if companies want to sell and attract customers, they have to be there and offer a seamless engagement with the customers throughout the sales process on the channel's customers prefer.

In this new reality, the main challenge is to actually be able to reach your consumers with a unified experience across the buyer journey. This is where marketing and sales automation technologies are critical.

 

60% of CMO say they struggle to utilize marketing technology and that they leave substantial capabilities underexplored

80% of the respondents to the Gartner survey said they had their budgets cut or expected their funds to be cut for marketing technology. This year, many businesses have faced challenges that require technology to change how customers' interactions shifted to new customer experiences or new opportunities for delivering solutions and services.

24% of our respondents said they expected an increased Martech budget compared to their original plan. Some organizations are trying to figure out their best opportunity for moving forward or are even forced to move to the digital space to survive. 

A marketer's job is to optimize to maximize the value that you can generate from activities and technology that you already have or that you're able to reallocate from a resource standpoint. 44% of the teams that Garter surveyed said they expected a cut of 5 to 15% of the tech budget. So certainly, that presents challenges from a value standpoint. 

 

Identify new customers and deliver digital experiences

The B2B buyer of 2020 and 2021 is somewhat different, it requires more of a cohesive view of how solutions will be delivered. Starting from 2019, 29% of respondents said they preferred that integrated delivery strategy organizing around a single key vendor, solution, or agency, and in 2020 Gartner data shows an increase of 30 percentage points in preference for that integrated strategy.

The Gartner 2021 View from the Board of Directors Survey found that seven out of 10 boards of directors have accelerated their digital business initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 disruption. 

If you have faced budget cuts, you will need to pay extra attention to ensuring that you're getting your teams to utilize the tools you already have, or maybe even those you can pivot to while maintaining or cutting budget levels. 

About 70% of the agency work remained outsourced, while about 30% was brought in-house with social marketing and creative production as the highest insourced.

Overhauling your marketing technology stack, with new marking digital events, social and virtual sales investments, and other marketing activities, you may be able to pivot drive transformative change. 

 

How marketing technologies can be used to streamline buyer experiences 

Technology can be used reactively to provide insight into all the touchpoints. But also proactively, by using actionable data to improve the lead generation and buyer experience, delivering personalization communications, targeted ads, and meaningful content to influence positively the B2B customer engagement and even the post-sales experience. 

Marketing systems generate huge amounts of data. The challenge is represented by gathering the data and choosing what is relevant, actionable, and how you should act.  

 

Maximize the value you deliver to customers with marketing and sales technology 

How to maximize the value you deliver to customers with marketing and sales technology is often viewed as a significant investment, a luxury item, when in fact, it is a must-have to get you the best outcomes, and most of the time, it pays by itself. 

As a marketing leader in B2B, you can spend your time building a marketing technology stack and integrating it, or you can run a performant marketing and lead generation automation system. The second one spares a lot of time and effort, allowing you to focus on the strategy's creative and optimization phases, which overall add the most value. In this respect, selecting the best system for you and your particular business needs is paramount. 

No matter how good the mark tech in your stack, how you operate and optimize is essential to maximize your business value from marketing technology to propel you to victory.

 

CMOS, allocate 26% of their marketing budget, to marketing technology

According to recent Gartner data from "The Annual CMO Spend Survey Research," CMOS allocates 26% of its marketing budget to marketing technology.

The big challenge is utilizing the Martech stack, where marketing technology teams say that they use just 58% of the products' capabilities overall, which is an alarming number given the high value that CMOS place on marketing technology. 

Marketing technology teams overwhelmingly say that they believe their marketing technique is effective. 81% of respondents say that they feel their market stack effectively meets their business objectives to maximize their KPIs for technology investments and directly address the Martech potential impact on operations such as improved campaign performance and higher productivity. Track Marketing Technology adoption and usage rates, and apply these KPIs to manage technology investments that don't meet thresholds.

 

Align not just marketing and sales but all company operations

That puts tremendous pressure on teams to be able to align and come together across marketing, IT operations, sales, and fuel that transformation at the company level. 

The main challenge to increase marketing ROI is a lack of cross-functional collaboration. To improve your returns on the marketing strategies, improve the marketing technology utilization, process, and people. That will translate into a unified customer experience and more value you can deliver. In the Gartner study, 56% of the participants said that building new processes or team capabilities was the primary way that they were going to focus on in 2021. 

 

Total media spend to bounce back in 2021

According to the latest Annual CMO Spend Survey Research, digital channels account for almost 80% of budgets in 2020. Survey findings reveal that 62% of CMOs expect total media spend to bounce back in 2021.

 

Digital Dominates the Channel Mix in 2021

Companies plan to invest 13.5% in digital advertising, 11.3% in social media marketing, and 10.4% on the website. SEO stays strong at almost 10%, while mobile marketing seems to be a good runner up. 

69% of B2B CMOs expect to increase spending on digital advertising, and 66% expect to increase spending on paid search. Nearly one-quarter (22%) of B2b budgets will be spent on digital advertising (13.5%), including display, video, or ads on platforms.

Event marketing was severely impacted by social distancing, also fed by international travel bans. Since events require significant forward planning and investment, companies still consider keeping a 9% budget set aside for this strategy moving to digital conferences, webinars, and online streaming events.

Digital channels account for a whopping 80% of all the budgets planned in 2021. This may change as the economic situation may also vary.

 

Digital reskilling and talent development a major marketing strategy for 2021 

Expanding use cases and investing in new marketing training and coaching, additional marketing technology, promoting talent, those might be opportunities that would vary substantially in terms of your budget or some of your different vendor relationships. 

This is a shift from previous years when only 49% of company leaders said that supporting ongoing marketing talent and talent development and training was a priority. 

 

Marketing takes diver seat for digital transformation

We see marketing more often in the driver seat on crafting the Marketing Technology Roadmap. The acquisition of marketing and sales tools sometimes taking over full control of configuration and deployment of marketing and sales integration with other business apps masterfully handling vendor selection even in technical aspects.

Cycles of planning and agility are the ones that we see as significant drivers of the future of marketing leadership. Marketers focused on marketing activities' subject matter expertise (SEO, PPC, digital, Martech) is more focused on process governance and combination of technology and integration (RevOps officers, for example).

If you need help with planning your B2B strategy or need a way to pivot to address new customer segments, reach out to us, and we will arrange a discovery call with one of our senior strategy consultants.

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