All articles

5 B2B Marketing Trends You Need to Know

Would you believe 2021 was the advertising and marketing industry’s strongest year in the last decade? That may be hard to imagine; we all know last year in many ways felt like a global Groundhog Day—one in which the sudden and serious challenges that defined 2020 continued. However, recent B2B marketing trends research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) suggests there’s a silver lining in sight.

Despite road bumps caused by the pandemic—including but certainly not limited to supply chain disruptions and talent shortages—several signs point to marketing budgets finally bouncing back.

What’s in store? Here are five notable stats to consider as you focus on making the most of your marketing opportunities in 2022:

65% of B2B marketers who outsource work say their chief challenge is finding partners with adequate topical expertise.

At the risk of channeling Dr. Phil, the strongest relationships are built on trust. It’s as true in marketing as it is in marriage. So it speaks volumes that essentially two out of three B2B marketers believe their vendors and partners lack the requisite brand or product knowledge to make a meaningful contribution.

While there’s no system that weeds out every weak link, here’s an approach that we’ve found works remarkably well: Embrace the “Prove it” partners—those people, teams and companies that are willing and eager to demonstrate their degree of expertise with a single project. Build from there.

Relationships are rarely solidified overnight. Expertise can be shared if you have patience—and the right people.

58% of respondents say virtual events such as webinars and online courses as well as long-form articles yielded the best results in the past year.

It’s no surprise that online and self-directed learning continued to hit home with consumers (especially since so many of them were there). But, the fact that nearly 6 of 10 sang the praises of these forms of marketing also emphasizes something else: In an age where tools and materials are more accessible to more people, the appetite for education is enormous.

Long-form content, in particular, continued to demonstrate great value for marketers (43%) who executed it most successfully. And here’s why: It dominates Page 1 search rankings.

Several factors contribute to this reality. The CliffsNotes reason? Generally speaking, long-form content is more comprehensive (and therefore more helpful) than quick-hitter content. Google understands users don’t want to scour the web for nuggets of information that need to be pieced together. They want it all—and they want it in one place.

If you ever had an English teacher preach “quality over quantity,” well, that’s now only partially true.

69% of marketers expect video to be their biggest area of investment in 2022. 

Compelling stories can be told in a variety of ways. But if your goal is to accentuate the humanity in your story, there’s arguably no better vehicle than video. There’s no shortage of research that points to its popularity and power: Video maximizes message retention, makes products and services easier to understand, and ultimately helps strengthen sales.

Do you have a compelling story to share? Consider customer testimonials and case studies. They are typically rich with narratives that translate well to video.

Of course, this isn’t to suggest you need to adopt a “video or bust” mindset. As Boston-based videographer and video blogger Steve Garfield once said, “Video is just one part of a marketing plan. It fits certain messages and people better than others.”

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that other areas expected to see increased investment include events (61%), owned media assets (57%) and paid media (55%). So, to echo Garfield, find a fit that most effectively meets your messaging needs.

45% of all respondents create content based on specific stages of the buyer’s journey.

Considering the maturity and sophistication that define today’s buyers, it’s somewhat stunning this percentage isn’t higher. Content can’t (or shouldn’t, at least) be created with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is designed to arm the audience with information that addresses a challenge at that point in the process.

Furthermore, buyers don’t necessarily need to start at square one. Their desire and ability to educate themselves before engaging an expert means their initial engagement with your content may be deeper down the funnel.(In other words, a product explainer isn’t going to help an audience searching for a product demonstration.)

Content creators who fail to reflect that level of understanding face an uphill fight.

62% of the survey’s top performers say they have a defined strategy in place.

If there’s one thing 2021 confirmed, it’s that ad hoc marketing isn’t nearly as effective as building and executing a detailed plan. Particularly as marketing budgets increase in 2022, you’ll need to know where (and how) your target audience consumes content.

As the old adage goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

But remember: A good strategy isn’t etched in stone. It allows for adaptation.

In 2022, that may just be what separates the best from the rest.