In B2B purchasing, we are seeing a lot of big changes in the way that businesses search for information and evaluate prospective vendors and service providers.
Overall, we are continuing to see a shift where B2B buyers are behaving a lot more like B2C customers, causing a large shift in how B2B sales and marketing is conducted. This isn’t surprising. After all, B2B buyers are people at the end of the day and as they become more comfortable with certain online B2C purchasing processes, this transfers to the B2B experience.
We have taken a look at some of the emerging trends that we feel will have a big impact on B2B marketing in 2020.
Online Reviews Matter
Influencing Purchase Decisions
Online reviews are becoming a large influencer in B2B marketing. Online reviews may be influencing over 60% of B2B purchase decisions. Much like B2C purchase decisions, businesses are turning to online reviews to see what kind of experiences others have had with a business before making a decision.
Impact of Negative Reviews
Additionally, negative reviews can impact buyer purchase behaviour as well. One negative review could cause you to lose one of every ten customers. Think of the impact that losing 30 customers would have on your business. It is well worth your time to actively manage your online reputation and ensure that you respond to negative reviews and make an effort to resolve them.
Online Reviews Help Your SEO!
Did you know that having online reviews can also help you perform better in local search results?
Having eight or more positive reviews can create a 10-15% growth in organic search traffic. A targeted online review growth strategy can give you a significant advantage when it comes to local SEO.
If you’re having a hard time contextualizing the importance of online reviews, think of it this way:
Five out of five stars signifies an awesome review, one out of five stars is a terrible review. Given the importance of online reviews in B2B purchase decisions, if you implement a good reputation management strategy and improve your rating from four to five stars, you can expect a 5-9% growth in revenue over the next year. That’s a significant amount of growth!
The Rise of ‘Micro-Moments’
In 2018, we saw a lot of marketers starting to understand the importance of ‘micro-moments’. A micro-moment is defined as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do or buy”. These micro-moments are critical points in the buyer journey where customers are actively looking to make a purchase decision. They are imperative when influencing a business’ purchase decision.
Alright, now that we know a little bit about the micro-moments, how do we leverage them to influence potential buyers?
It’s important to leverage these micro-moments effectively and meet the needs of businesses as they move towards making a purchase decision. Business buyers want what they want, when they want it. If you cannot provide that, they will purchase from other brands that are able to cater to their needs.
Search (SEO) is not dead in 2020
Several years ago there seemed to be an endless array of online articles about “Is SEO Dead?”. Many years later, the answer is still no.
It’s more important than ever.
We cannot ignore the importance of search when businesses are looking to make a purchase decision. It has been said that decision-makers do an average of 12 online searches and are 57% of the way through your marketing funnel before reaching out. Given that decision makers are still searching to solve their needs, we need to ensure that your business is present in those searches to ensure that you are found and have the opportunity to influence their purchase decision.
Where the search is happening
80% of B2B purchase decisions are being researched on more than one device. That’s a large portion of the purchase decision allocated to different types of search when looking for information. Although businesses have been known to research with other more traditional methods when making an informed decision, it’s been said that 68% of research is being undertaken online.
When do they make up their minds?
Once they have completed the research process, decision-makers are often 70% decided on your offering before they actually reach out and contact you for more information. Given that so much of the initial education of your offering comes from your online presence and online search, it’s important to ensure that you are visible within search engine results pages.
Search (SEO) Trends
Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T)
One of the things that the Google algorithm evaluates when determining search rankings is expertise, authority,
The criteria behind E-A-T contribute to an overall quality score which determines how well a website will rank within search results. Essentially, Google favours websites that show expertise in a subject matter with the credentials to prove it.
If you would like to know more about E-A-T, read this article about it and the overall quality score.
Voice Search is Making an Impact
Another rising search trend is the way digital assistants and voice search are revolutionizing the way we search.
Think about it – in the past – you were likely to search in a concise and easy to type manner. Typing things takes time and effort! But, if you are asking a question verbally, you’re likely to be more descriptive. Voice search queries tend to be longer in nature and more specific. Because of this, we need to change our strategy and ensure we accommodate voice users. The way people are searching for us is changing.
Algorithm Updates are as Important as Ever
With some of the latest algorithm updates, we have been seeing a shift in how search engines rank websites in SERPs (search results). Keywords still matter, but the importance of the context, intent,
Some of Google’s previous changes like the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates, although they are several years old, continue to be updated. They are still relevant now and will be in 2020.
Social Advertising Works!
Who is using Social?
Social media marketing still plays a significant role in B2B marketing. It’s been said that 95% of B2B marketers are using social in their marketing campaigns. In addition to this, 86% of B2B marketers are using a combination of paid and organic social media content to promote their campaigns.
Organic or Paid Social?
Given the nature of social media algorithms, 59% of B2B marketers believe that paid social is more effective than organic social media content. It’s important to have a good mix of both paid and organic content in your social campaigns. Social media gives brands an opportunity to educate and engage decision-makers within companies and influence their purchase decision.
LinkedIn in 2020
As the biggest professional social network at the moment, LinkedIn offers great ways to target key decision makers within your target industries.
LinkedIn has been ramping up their advertising offerings over the past few years. We’re seeing a big trend towards
Thanks to the revamped LinkedIn pages, B2B marketers have an opportunity to showcase the culture of their organization and what it is like to work with them.
With retargeting, you can start to influence B2B purchasers who have researched your brand with targeted messaging and offers.
Retargeting is a great way to influence purchase decisions by nurturing leads with relevant information to their buyer journey.
Common retargeting platforms
Private Facebook groups are becoming a common way to group together like-minded individuals (people using your product!) and nurturing them to become evangelists for your brand. We’ve seen trends where this has been particularly effective in the B2B software space, and many other industries are also benefiting.
Keep in mind that we recommend a dedicated community manager for these groups and a thoughtful plan to keep engagement high.
Database Marketing: More than just email
Email marketing has been hot for a long time and hasn’t even reached it’s maturity point yet. Year over year the ROI for email marketing continues to grow. In 2019, for every 1 dollar spent on email marketing, businesses received $44 in return. This was a 16% improvement over the previous year. We don’t see this slowing down any time soon! We have a feeling the returns will continue to increase in 2020.
Email marketing is one tactic in the toolbox of “Database Marketing”, but we’re starting to see other channels emerge as effective places to grow your contact lists.
Facebook Messenger List development and advertising is a really exciting trend right now.
For our own clients, we’re currently seeing upwards of 90% open rates and 50% CTR rates. Compare this to email where we’re often averaging around 20-50% open rates and 5-20% CTR rates.
This channel is still very much a newcomer on the scene with lots of opportunity for first-mover advantage.
B2B Case Studies
Case studies are one of the most valuable pieces of content your business can create.
If your budget is limited and you can only
Why? Because case studies can be used throughout all of a buyer’s purchase journey.
Snippets from case studies make great social media content. The social proof will elevate your website’s conversions. Case study content can be purposed into blog content. And most important, they’re a killer asset to have in the sales process.
When it comes to content marketing, we’ve noticed some specific techniques that are very effective for B2B marketers. Content marketing done right should help your business build relationships, nurture leads, and influence potential buyers.
Tell a Story
Storytelling is a great way to engage your audience and give them a deeper understanding of what you do.
Using storytelling makes your product offering or service relatable. This helps buyers imagine what using your service would be like and how it can solve their business challenges.
Make it Fast
On social media, you have eight seconds to engage a user and have them read your content. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to engage the user and entice them to take the time to read your content and engage with it.
Be to the point, but don’t forget to be interesting!
Another great form of content marketing for B2B businesses is showing some thought leadership. Creating unique, relevant content that shows your expertise on the subject matter is a great way to make your brand stand out from the pack.
Becoming a thought leader isn’t easy and may require some research and a well thought out strategy. But for many companies it is well worth the effort as it helps position your brand’s subject matter expertise when it comes to solving business problems and challenges.
How Much Content to Have in Your Content Strategy?
It is important to keep in mind that it takes six to eight touches with your brand’s content before a user becomes a lead.
Think of it this way, how often have you become interested in a product or service the first time you’ve ever seen it? Probably not very often.
Now, how many times have you been interested in something after seeing it several times?
At each touchpoint, the user is exposed to your brand and it’s messaging through your content. Once they have seen enough and heard enough about it to be interested, then they are likely to engage and interact with your content and become a lead.
Ultimately the final number of content pieces you need to plan for depends on your industry, competition, user needs, and other marketing needs (think: SEO).
2020 Website Considerations
Assuming that you have all the fundamentals in place that make a great website (architecture, UX, design, etc), in 2020 we recommend taking a look at improving the following:
(and if you don’t have all the fundamentals above done, contact us for a free audit!)
It’s not about you.
Well, it sort of is. Your website is about what your business offers. But the messaging of your website needs to be more focused on the user than yourself.
We find a lot of business talk about their organization on their website the same way they do internally. Full of jargon, full of stuff that’s important to your business – but not actually what’s important to the customer.
When it comes to your website, businesses need to think about the questions that people are trying to answer when making a decision for their business.
- What is the product or service you are offering?
- What problems do you solve?
- How are you better than the alternative?
- Why do they need it?
- How can they purchase it?
These are all questions that we need to answer with your website. Your website really isn’t about you, it’s about the businesses that you’re trying to connect with and what you mean to them. Remember, the user is in charge of this experience and we need to make it a good one.
In order to ensure users have a good experience with our website, we need to deliver information quickly so we don’t lose someone’s interest. It’s been said that a one-second delay in load time equates to an 11% loss in page views and a 7% reduction in conversions. 79% of people that are unhappy with website performance are also less likely to buy from you. You could be missing out on a lot of business!
2020 B2B Marketing Action List
Well, thanks for reading! We’ve compiled this article into one action list so you can be sure you are ready to take full advantage of all the B2B trends for 2020. We hope you found this article helpful and have a better understanding of the marketing trends and techniques B2B businesses are using to generate more leads and convert them into sales.
- Create a reputation management strategy and set goals!
- Find one more way to make it easier for prospects to contact you.
- Audit your online competition – are they making it easier than you?
- Invest in SEO
- Not generating enough leads? Let’s talk about social advertising, PPC, SEO and content marketing.
- Ready to expand your database marketing?
- One case study per quarter – and USE it!
- Audit your website.
- Your marketing is not an expense. Don’t underinvest.