Top 12 B2B Marketing Trends to Watch in 2024

As we look to 2023 and beyond, one thing is for certain. The COVID19 pandemic has radically transformed the way we do business. According to a recent McKinsey survey, more than 70% of B2B buyers and sellers prefer remote interactions.

With the switch in global preference to digital self-serve solutions and remote sales engagements, it’s important for B2B marketers to adapt to this new digital reality. Here are the top 12 B2B marketing trends in 2024.

1: Build ethical brands

2: Own your audience

3: Embrace cross-functional collaboration

4: Be strategic but get tactical

5: Crush competitors through value innovation

6: Improve your B2B partner experience (PX)

7: Invest in customer advocacy

8: Accelerate AI adoption

9: Captivate customers through conversational marketing

10: Ride the rise of video content

11: Broadcast authority through audio channels

12: Craft a digital marketing strategy fit for the metaverse

1: Build ethical brands

The pandemic launched a grand experiment on introspection. People are more aware about the potential impact their dollars can have for good or ill, and companies have been forced to update their branding to reflect their ethical values.  

Promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do. It also has a strong business case. A report from McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity on executive teams were 36 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

And how does that translate to the world of marketing?  Seventy-one percent of respondents to a Facebook Advertising survey expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising. And Microsoft Advertising found inclusive messaging to deliver 23% more “purchase” intent from Gen Z consumers.

The writing on the wall could not be clearer—companies that effectively market to diverse audiences will experience a wider, more profitable reach. Marketers can help build ethical brands by ensuring that messaging across all mediums uses inclusive language and imagery that accurately reflect the diversity of the human race. Baking DIB into your marketing efforts can help you build a more ethical brand.

2: Own your audience

B2B marketers are no stranger to the importance of owning an audience. B2B marketers have fine tuned their email marketing funnels to capitalize on every step of the buyer’s journey. According to the content marketing institute, 87% of B2B marketers rely on email newsletters as a major source of organic leads. But inboxes are crowded and marketers of all stripes need to step up their games.

To remain competitive in the future, B2B marketers need to move beyond conventional email marketing campaigns and start cultivating their own communities. Stand out by engaging your target audience across multiple channels and dimensions.

Consider SMS marketing, host both online and offline communities, and develop social media channels. It’s no longer enough to collect emails and build lists. Brand recognition and loyalty are built through community engagement.

3: Embrace cross-functional collaboration

Many organizations view marketing as a cost center rather than a profit center. This perception is drawn from the conclusion that marketing is solely a brand awareness exercise that generates leads but not sales.

The CMO role, for 2022 and beyond, is evolving into a cross-functional, data-focused executive position responsible for portions of P&L. This critical transition moves marketing from lead generation to sales enablement.

Here are a few tips to support this cross-functional collaboration:

  • Create power teams of people from different segments of your pipeline, including marketing, sales and technology
  • Document and share personas of your accounts with detailed information, including the online activity, of the decision makers and of their supporting personnel
  • Craft customized journeys that address the problem areas your prospect is facing and how your product can solve the problems
  • Ask the sales team to craft customized follow-ups based on the interests and/or needs of the prospect

4: Be strategic but get tactical

Innovation at the speed of tech requires agility. Top down marketing strategies are still important, but it's also important to get tactical all the way down to thinking through how a specific post on social media ties into the overarching customer journey and marketing strategy.

Many marketers assume that increasing their exposure and conversions is a simple function of creating more content, faster. But a true content marketing strategy delivers timely, relevant value at each step of the sales funnel.

To do this, think less like an employee and more like an entrepreneur. Stay current in marketing trends and tactical possibilities by reading books and listening to podcasts. Then rethink, as necessary, which tactical marketing initiatives are best suited to bring an overarching marketing strategy to life. This allows you to be nimble and respond quickly to changing market needs.

5: Crush competitors through value innovation

Product innovation now happens faster and is more sensitive to evolving customer needs, thanks to digital tracking tools and social media. Future marketers will become essential to helping businesses understand the rapidly changing social, functional, and emotional needs of customers to support product innovation and design.

Marketing models will become dynamic and customized to each client. Marketers will need to focus on the end value—the macro vision, rather than the micro vision. Your products should be tailored to fit the needs of your customers now and in the future, not just to fulfill another product segment of the market.

As cross-functional collaborators, marketers can help product designers render the competition irrelevant through value innovation and identifying ways to rethink the customer experience. The customers of tomorrow crave dynamic user experiences that allow them to scale services up or down based on their individual needs. As a marketer you can leverage your market research to communicate innovative insights to your product designers.

6: Improve your B2B partner experience (PX)

B2B partner ecosystems are becoming more important as digital transformation accelerates connections between people and organizations. Whether you’re trying to generate high-quality leads, looking for new ways to add value to existing product-lines or simply trying to close the deal on a new client, there’s strength in having a community you can count on.  

A B2B partner ecosystem allows you to pool your strengths and resources with complementary businesses that share your ideal customer profile (ICP), increasing the value you can provide to customers. B2B partner ecosystems open up new opportunities for revenue growth, including co-selling motions, co-marketing campaigns, product integrations, and expanded market segments.

A marketing team can coordinate messaging with partners at each step of the marketing funnel, giving sales teams opportunities to upsell and create additional revenue through the increased value delivered to customers.

7: Invest in customer advocacy

Marketers will need to spend more time and energy recapturing and upscaling current clients. A 5% increase in customer retention rates can lead to a 95% increase in profits according to the Harvard Business Review. Referral programs aren’t just for B2C marketers. B2B marketers can greatly improve the effectiveness of their campaigns through customer advocacy programs such as training, onboarding, and education.

Here are common elements of a customer advocacy strategy:

  • Designating a customer representative for handling customer questions and problems
  • Offering superior customer service and support
  • Showing appreciation for customer loyalty through rewards programs and other incentives
  • Administering surveys  or assembling customer advisory boards to gain customer feedback that can be used to improve products and services
  • Offering incentives for customers to become brand ambassadors and advocates

A solid customer advocacy program can help your business deliver a superior customer experience turning your own customers into your best advocates.

8: Accelerate AI adoption

The amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally in 2021 is forecasted to be 79 zettabytes. That’s in stark contrast to the mere 5 zetabytes of data that existed a decade earlier in 2011. A vast majority of this data is unstructured and difficult to analyze.

Artificial intelligence (AI) excels at dealing with large volumes of unstructured data and will become essential for marketers. AI can unlock the hidden potential of the data you collect from your customers, helping you cater your products and services to their needs. Real-time analytics of streaming data from IoT devices can yield actionable insights that can improve processes, boost profits, and cut costs.

A specific type of AI called natural language processing (NLP) will play a major role in engaging customers and generating new leads through voice search. From AI marketing automation to conversational chatbots, AI can give B2B companies the edge they need to compete.

9: Captivate customers through conversational marketing

Buyer and seller conversations since the 2020 pandemic have moved almost exclusively online. Conversational marketing is a model that combines customer-centric data with targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to deliver real-time authentic user experiences.

If the last decade was about removing friction from sales and marketing funnels, this next one is about accelerating the customer journey through these frictionless funnels via conversational marketing.

As effective as conventional email marketing campaigns are, their asynchronous nature leaves a time lag before a sale can be closed. That lag can prove to be a drag in an increasingly digital world where data and messaging change at breakneck pace.

Conversational marketing eliminates that lag, providing marketers with synchronous real-time communication tools like chatbots and dynamic conversational user flows, that quickly guide prospects to sales personnel who can close a deal within minutes.

10: Ride the rise of video content

Think video marketing is just for B2C? Think again. Fifty-nine percent of executives admitted they prefer watching videos to reading text. And research by Insivia has shown that viewers retain 95% of a message consumed as video versus 10% when reading text.

Video is fun, entertaining, and easy to digest. It’s no wonder people across demographics love it. Video done right works effectively in multiple channels. Video can attract organic traffic through shares within social media, be used to communicate brand authority through webinars, and help educate customers on how to use products and services through demos.

And because video is viewed as high-quality content by search engines like Google, properly optimized videos can drive traffic to your website. Utilizing video SEO, in fact, is a great way to improve the search rankings of your website no matter what industry you are in.

If your B2B content marketing strategy doesn’t include video in 2022, you will be at a disadvantage when compared to 86% of businesses that use video as a marketing tool. Marketers can look for opportunities to work with executives to host high quality video webinars that can be turned into long-term assets for driving organic traffic.

11: Broadcast authority through audio channels

There’s something special about audio content. You can consume it while you commute to work, wash the dishes, or stand in line at the store. Audio lets you consume content while giving your eyes a break. Because it doesn’t require the full attention a video or article would demand, you can consume it while multitasking throughout your daily life.

From zoom meetings to remote work to streaming binges, the pandemic had us spending more time on our screens than ever before. Audio gave us a way to continue to consume content without having our eyes glued to a screen.

And businesses have begun to take notice. From podcasts to real-time audio chat rooms like Clubhouse, audio is back in vogue in a way it hasn’t been since radio. The medium is perfect for discourse, interviews, and debates, all things that give brands an opportunity to humanize themselves by placing the personalities behind the business front and center. A podcast can turn business owners and executives into thought leaders and influencers.

And with the rise of audio SEO, marketers can turn their podcasts and audio content into assets for attracting organic traffic through search engines. It’s still a niche search vertical for sure, but with people using voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, there’s a big opportunity for businesses to capture search equity in the nascent world of audio search.

12: Craft a digital marketing strategy fit for the metaverse

The metaverse—a theoretical digital twin of our world—will fundamentally alter the way marketing works. People will still be driven to buy based on solving problems, meeting needs, and fulfilling desires, but courting and retaining this new customer segment will require marketers to comprehend this new type of buyer as well as the new worlds they are entering.

The metaverses being built today are a digital gamified universe that allows you (and your avatar) to experience life inside of it. Think of The Sims on steroids. Players in the metaverse are there to decompress, flex their bounty (NFTs, crypto they have accumulated, or in-game purchases) or even live a life they feel that they will never get to experience in real life. This second life provides insurmountable opportunities for advertising everything from products for your metaverse life to events and experiences that your avatar can attend.

Companies have already started leveraging the metaverse to connect with these consumers. Here are a few examples:

While today, most of our online interactions take place behind a screen, technologies such as augmented reality (AR) which overlays your field of view with digital elements and virtual reality (VR) in which you fully immerse yourself into a digital world, promise to fundamentally change the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

Marketers will also have to consider the technology they are dealing with. Most metaverses live on the blockchain, a Web 3 technology. This means that marketers will need to expand their knowledge base to understand the blockchain, how crypto intertwines with this and how they can properly track data from campaigns run in the metaverse and associate a lifetime value (LTV).

B2B marketing in 2024 is all about the customer

The customer stands front and center at the heart of all B2B marketing trends in 2023. Whether it’s engaging the customer directly in their physical space through AR/VR technologies or building a community and customer loyalty through customer advocacy programs, marketing success hinges on a company’s ability to cater to the customer’s well-being.

This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the independent freelancer listed as the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
Article Author
Author
Yunche W.
Expert Vetted
CMO
Lisbon, Portugal
Marketing Strategy
Sales Funnel Management

Read more from Yunche W.