2020 was the year marketing in B2B tech came into its own. On behalf of Isoline Communications, we conducted research with over 50 B2B tech leaders across the world towards the end of 2020 to understand how the Covid-19 has changed B2B technology content marketing.
1. For the first time, it was the Marketers’ time in the sun! Digital marketing and content became the primary sales tool for B2B tech
In the beginning of 2020, most companies planned for face-to-face events as critical customer touchpoints, with digital marketing playing a supporting role. Events were seen as the most important avenues of new leads and business generation, with a large portion of marketing budgets earmarked for events and event related campaigns.
The spread of Covid-19 across the world, early in the year, led to cancellation of events, restrictions on travel and social distancing norms. B2B tech organisations could not rely on in-person meetings to generate leads, engage prospects and convert them into customers. In addition, their clients in many sectors (e.g., retail, office spaces) were severely impacted. The sales teams were considerably constrained in their abilities to initiate conversations and generate new business.
Companies began to focus on generating business through digital channels. Marketing had to step up and work closely with the sales teams to actively generate business.
2. Pandemic challenges were human challenges! Empathy made inroads in B2B tech marketing
Pandemic challenges were human challenges. B2B tech companies realized how important it was to communicate with their customers as people. It became critical to empathise with their customers’ challenges in servicing their end customers, working from home, addressing health & safety concerns and managing remotely.
Many B2B tech companies shared content to educate customers on how their technologies can help meet pandemic related challenges – technology to aid safety, new revenue models, new products to meet current and future customer needs.
3. Fewer were better! Targeted and personalised content to fewer relevant decision makers was more effective than a scatter-shot approach.
With everyone focusing on online presence, Internet became crowded with content focused on B2B customers. Competitors improved their online marketing and content. Getting noticed by relevant decision makers then became a challenge. There was the added challenge of audience/content/webinar fatigue.
Some B2B tech organisations began focusing on building a distinctive online Brand. This involved identifying the right customer personas, journeys and real pain points, clarifying positioning and messaging. A customer centric approach to content and digital marketing, B2B tech marketers believe, is necessary to provide value to their customers.
Content marketing today needs to be deliberate and precise. They plan to bring targeted content for small groups of decision makers. This means working from most current and accurate buyer personas, customer data and target lists. This also makes right distribution of content very important.
B2B tech marketers expect AI to play a key role in personalised communication and expect it to be big in content marketing in near future.
4. Content is also team work! Marketing, sales, product teams need to collaborate to develop content that wins customers.
Content today is closely related to sales. It is not only a marketing activity but a sales activity. This has important implications. There is a need for different departments (sales, digital marketing, content marketing, product marketing) to work together. This leads to a need to develop and align all stakeholders to a process of working together.
All digital tactics and channels working together like a system – SEO, Blogs, Social Media. Content marketing is no longer seen in isolation. It needs to work with PR, influencers, virtual events, company product marketing and other departments.
5. Measure everything! Organisation leaders began asking for better content performance.
The need to measure content performance and effectiveness is gaining ground. As marketing takes a larger role in driving new business, it is gaining top management attention. This makes availability of accurate data, to plan and enroll management into content strategies and tactics, critical for marketing teams.
The aim is to get a consolidated view of content performance across channels and asset types. Most companies struggle with achieving a consolidated reporting of content assets.
However, focus on measurement is still in its early days and lags behind content development and distribution in the focus it will receive in 2021. Our qualitative insights lead us to believe that while effective measurement is an aspiration across the board, it is the more mature digital marketers that are able bring the right measurement processes and technologies to make their content marketing more effective.
You can find detailed insights in the report published on Isoline’s website.