In this article, we will look at what B2B Content Marketing Trends B2B marketers should watch out for in 2021 to stay competitive, improve customer and user experience, and improve their marketing results.
Like every year even this year brought some interesting new technologies and trends that I would like to discuss and look closer to see how they fit into b2b content marketing.
This year was especially special as everybody knows because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it did not stop engineers & innovators from innovating and bringing new things to the marketplace.
So, in this article, I am going to look at some of the b2b content marketing trends I have found very interesting and I will be focusing on within my marketing plan for 2021.
B2B Content Marketing Boosted by the Internet of Behaviors (IoB)
Mining customer data is nothing new as the Internet of Things has taken the place of how technology is evolving and how marketers are using data to drive business growth, but data can’t tell us everything.
While Psychology Professor Göte Nyman has brought up the term Internet of Behaviors in 2012 the meaning is a bit different as described by her; The human IoB is aimed at protecting our identities by separating behavior and identity data, whereas the technology orientated IoB described by Gartner, is meant to link a person digitally to their actions.
So that means keep the person and his behavior to further enhance customer data and in marketing case:
improve customer and user experience
improve personalization for that person
Optimize Marketing Asset
Drive more qualified leads
Get a deep understanding of how customers react to marketing asset
And while b2b marketers are already using some of the IoB technologies to understand customer behavior like heatmaps but this is mainly focused on understanding the general behavior of your customers there are more personal approaches.
With technology like session recordings B2B marketers can easily identify individual lead and reply to the recordings and see:
What the individual lead is searching for
When was the first interaction?
How Many Visits the Lead had
Understand Bad or Good Customer Experience
How many interactions the lead did before filling up the form
What Pages have Seen and for How Long
What caught his attention
Internet of Behavior has a great potential for B2B marketing leaders to get an even deeper understanding of their customers but B2B marketers must be careful and balance between an understanding of human psychology and keep the privacy of their customers.
What is the Internet of Behaviors in Marketing?
Internet of Behaviors is to find and share accurate and timely knowledge of ongoing customer behaviors based on interaction with marketing assets and the actions that can be linked to an individual person, and to serve the behaving people (or organizations) to improve personalization, customer and user experience and increase marketing effectiveness.
IoB extends from the Internet of Things to further enhance customer understanding and get new behavior insights that help marketers to make better-informed decisions and redefine their marketing effort, and to get an advantage over their competitors.
How the Internet of Behaviors Improve B2B Content Marketing?
To win in B2B business, marketing and sales must work together, winning deals is about building trust with the audience and sales is not about selling but educating. These trends are already known to improve content marketing, but how IoB influence B2B Content Marketing?
Observing your prospects and customers will give you deep insights into your customers and prospects and how they interact with your B2B Content Marketing.
While on large scale it is hard to implement IoB to get insights on your customers’ behavior as there are not many solutions for that. Still, there are a few things marketing leaders can do to improve B2B Content Marketing with IoB.
The best tool to understand the behavior of your customers is using recording sessions on your website to see how your users are moving around your website. But as I said, on large scale it can be difficult to implement it.
Why Should B2B Marketing Leaders Care?
IoB provides even deeper insights about your customers enabling you to provide next-level marketing personalization and push customer experience event further.
As from observing and understanding human psychology, we are able to discover patterns that make our customers to:
Fill up the form
Why they are leaving this particular web page
What intrigue them to go to the next page
Why they downloaded the ebook
What does work on your website
What is not clear for them on your website
And much more. This helps us to optimize your b2b marketing effort, reduce customer frustration when searching for information, and provide a seamless customer experience.
So with information, you can improve your b2b content marketing to make it easier for your prospects to find information, read it, and get what they need faster resulting in shortening customer journey.
IoB enables marketing leads to think ahead of their customers to provide information before they even thought about it. But IoB is in the early stage and we will see what else is possible with IoB.
B2B Content Marketing to Deliver Total Experience
The next on our list of B2B Content Marketing Trends in 2021 that are emerging are using B2B Content Marketing to Deliver Total Experience.
While it used to be that marketing was only responsible for attracting new leads to drive business growth, today’s B2B marketing department is getting involved in every stage of the b2b customer journey to drive business growth.
From the early stage of building awareness to advocacy marketing departments are responsible to provide marketing materials to maximize opportunities and increase business growth.
And as customers demand more and better customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) b2b content marketing will be used to support the total experience of your customers, employees, and your users to increase the overall experience.
As while we have been only talking about removing data silos to enhance our decision-making ability, customer experience has been rated as the top priority for businesses in 2021 for business growth.
Therefore, we must remove silos within our customer experience as well and provide seamless, multi-channel customer experience without silos including your employees, users, and customers.
What is Total Experience in Marketing?
Total Experience in Marketing is using marketing assets to improve the experience of customers, employees, and users’ experience to drive better overall company results. The objective is to improve the overall experience where all experiences from technology, employees to customers, and users get improved and removing experience silos.
Why Total Experience is Important?
Focusing on customer experience is only one part of the responsibility businesses have as employee experience matters as well to improve employees’ efficiency productivity, happiness, retention of employees, increase profit, and reduce costs.
Companies with engaged employees pull in 5x more revenues compared to competitors with low engagement levels.
Highly engaged teams show a 21% greater profitability. (Source)
$11B is lost annually due to employee turnover.
If you want to build a customer-first strategy, building high employee morale is a necessary (though not sufficient) precondition. (Source)
Without prolonging this, your total experience is important because your happy employees are more effective and bringing better results and also provide better customer experience which is especially important for businesses where a high number of employees interact with customers.
And of course, your customer experience is important too as if there are no happy customers, there are not Dengi (Money).
How B2B Content Marketing Influence Total Experience?
Marketers and HR are having more in common than we actually think and there are some common things we can learn from each other to improve the total experience of the company and deliver better business growth.
Marketers already know that content marketing that is consistent, authentic, personalized, and valuable improves customer experience as it helps with their research, adapt to using new solutions, help them achieve more, etc.
The key is proactive communication with b2b buyers and delivers valuable insights to help them with content marketing.
And the same can applies to your employees. Often employees can be frustrated with using new technologies, not having enough information about employee benefits, promotions, compensation, etc.
For example, You can be sending weekly helpful tips and tricks from more experienced colleagues to increase productivity with tools or working from home. Creating employee podcasts to share stories, experiences, and more.
So, taking some of the best content marketing practices and apply them to the company to boost:
Transparency within the company
Employee benefit programs
Adoption of new technologies
Employees to feel more engaged
Help Employees to be more productive
Producing content has been proven to enhance customer experience, so why not enhance employee experience, user experience, and technology experience with content marketing to achieve better total experience?
Hyperautomation in B2B Content Marketing
Is there any task that you have to do more than just once in the quarter, month, week, or even in a day? Then the next on the list of B2B Content Marketing Trends in 2021 is Hyperautomation.
Anything that is repeatedly done, should be automated, anything that can be automated should be automated and as the technology is improving B2B Content Marketers are seeking opportunities to automate their tasks as well.
Hyperautomation is the next level of digital transformation for businesses and since email automation replaced repetitive and low value takes email marketers have seen a major improvement in communication with their customers and the number and quality of the leads.
And with hyperautomation, we are looking at the next revolution in B2B Content Marketing to increase marketing efficiency, connect with your customers on the next level, deepen customer relationships, reduce the burden, and drive business growth.
What is Hyperautomation?
As defined by Gartner, hyper-automation “deals with the application of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. Hyper-automation extends across a range of tools that can be automated, but also refers to the sophistication of the automation (i.e., discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, reassess.)” and hyperautomation is an unavoidable market state in which companies should quickly identify and automate all possible business processes.
“As no single tool can replace humans, hyperautomation today involves a combination of tools, including robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business management software (iBPMS) and AI, with a goal of increasingly AI-driven decision making.”
The vision behind the hyper-automation is not to replace people but through automation, humans are freed from repetitive, boring, and low-value tasks to focus on ones that are of a higher value to the organization.
Why Hyperautomation is Important for B2B Content Marketing?
As every department is getting stretch by businesses to maximize the business growth, new technologies and trends are coming on the market to enhance human productivity, empower employees to do me, and reduce costs.
And that applies the same way for Hyperautomation in B2B Content Marketing. Because B2B buyers are becoming more demanding, expecting businesses to proactively react to their needs and problems instantly and anticipate their needs in the future.
So hyperautomation has massive potential in personalization content on a huge scale as 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business and customers are 2.1x more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant according to Salesforce.
Every of your customer is expecting you to personalize every and each interaction with them which on large scale is very difficult.
And because Hyperautomation is working based on merging some of the latest technologies like AI, Machine Learning, and robotic process automation it should help content marketers to even further improve personalization to target every single customer with personalized interaction across channels and not just via email marketing.
And there are more opportunities for marketing leaders to use hyperautomation for:
Get even deeper insights to make smarter decisions
Increase the speed of processes
Reduce Errors to almost none
Get the right performance metrics
So I am definitely looking out for hyperautomation tools once it hit the commercial market.
Real-Time Marketing to Empower B2B Customer Journey
Our next B2B Content Marketing Trend that Marketers should be aware of is Real-Time Marketing.
While in 2019 marketers had prepared their marketing plans, KPIs, and budgets to smash the new decade, COVID-19 have turn everything around and marketers had to go adjust on-the-fly and do real-time marketing.
In this modern world, everything is going super-fast and nobody is waiting for anybody and our marketing results are based on real-time data and how quickly we can turn data into insights and act on the information we have.
And that is the same with trends and events. Trends quickly come and even faster disappear and for businesses to take the opportunity they must act even faster and real-time marketing is exactly about that.
Staying relevant is the challenge that marketers are facing for so long as so many things are happening all the time and therefore marketers are calling out for real-time marketing to maximize marketing results at any time.
What is Real-Time Marketing?
Real-time marketing is using data from multiple channels to make data-driven decisions to react to current marketing changes, trends, customer behavior, and other situations marketers are facing to stay relevant and connect customers with products or services that they need now, at the moment.
Real-time marketing helps marketers to take the current and short-staying opportunity, use available data to make a decision, and quickly turn it into an opportunity that brings business growth by promoting their products or services.
Great examples of using real-time marketing are the brand Oreo with their 2013 Superbowl tweet “Dunk in the dark”
Being there when trends hit the marketing hide many opportunities for brands to multiply their brand awareness by 10x even without big budgets and therefore real-time marketing or viral marketing is good to know.
Also, marketers can stream live from their events, show what is happening “backstage” or what the production is doing to maximize marketing results.
Real-time Marketing is to use what is happening right now and turn it into profit or any benefit for the business.
Why Should Marketing Leaders Care about Real-Time Marketing?
Real-time marketing is about responding fast to current market changes, trends, and events which gives a way to increase connections with your target audience and expand your reach.
Also, it helps to connect with current customers and deepens existing relationships by increasing the impact of your brand while responding to any current events happening around you or the world whether good or bad.
Therefore, any business can take advantage of this because it does not require a big budget to create quick and easy content and share it among your followers and users.
The only thing you must follow is to be relevant to the event you are responding to, in the same way as Oreo during the Superbowl blackout.
And if it is done correctly, you can create a viral post that will be shared across channels and as I said, expand your reach and connect with your target audience while deepening the relationships with current customers.
Real-time Marketing brings many opportunities and marketing leaders can take advantage of it to get quick and great results without investing a big portion of the marketing budget. Therefore real-time marketing is becoming one of the big B2B Content Marketing trends B2B marketing leaders should be aware of and take advantage of it.
How Can You Start with Real-Time Marketing?
As it says within the name real-time marketing, you can literally start right now and catch something as there is always something happening.
Recently we could see a big movement of #BlackLivesMatter where many brands showed their support to the black community by creating content across many channels.
Like a Reebok.
To the black community: We see you. We stand in solidarity with you. This can no longer be the status quo. pic.twitter.com/LpE7HHp3qU
and millions of other brands have changed their brand logos to more colorful to show their supper for this big movement.
This just shows one way how you can start with real-time marketing but then there are other ways how you can start with real-time marketing and you do not need any big trends, movement, or things happening around.
But if you want to focus on trends and booming news, you can use the Twitter feature “Trends for you” to see what is actually happening in the world and think about how your brand could support or share its opinion or my new favorite tool Exploding Topics.
Exploding Topics is great to see what topics are booming right now to help you address it within your b2b content and get better exposure.
But as I said, there are other ways how you can start with real-time marketing.
Share updates during your online events to attract more people
Show customers lining up in front of your store for your promotion
Show current best selling products or services
Share real-time feedback from your customers
Quick updates on what is happening inside of your company, like exciting news, new product launch, etc.
Or anything that you believe is worth sharing with your target audience.
Real-time marketing does not have a limit and you can easily share anything that you believe your target audience will be interested in.
So these are my favorite b2b content marketing trends that I am watching out for the year 2021, but of course, there is more to look forward and we will see what will be effective and useful for b2b marketers and what will get forgotten.
Either way, I am super excited to start a new year with a new marketing plan as I have learned a lot this year and there are plenty of b2b digital marketing strategies I want to optimize, try and remove from my portfolio and my clients’ portfolio to get the maximum results from the marketing budget.
But I am still looking out for more b2b content marketing trends and b2b digital marketing trends that I can try by myself and let you know how it worked out for me.