In B2B marketing, staying ahead of trends is crucial for businesses aiming to thrive. As we navigate through 2024, understanding and adapting to these trends, supported by robust market research, becomes indispensable.
Here, we delve into the top five B2B marketing trends and explore how market research can be a game-changer in leveraging these trends for business success.
1. Personalisation at scale
Trend insight: Personalisation has shifted from being a novelty to a necessity in B2B marketing. In 2024, the trend leans towards personalisation at scale, where businesses tailor their marketing efforts to individual needs on a massive scale.
How market research can help: Market research provides in-depth insights into customer preferences, behaviours, and pain points. Utilising data visualisation tools, businesses can interpret complex datasets to create personalised marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience.
Recent example: A compelling case is that of Anthology, a global provider of higher education solutions. They implemented a content intelligence platform to better understand their audience’s content consumption behaviour and preferences. Utilising AI-driven insights, Anthology crafted personalised content journeys tailored to each buyer’s interests and behaviours. This strategy led to a 400% increase in leads engaging with multiple pieces of content and a 20% increase in lead conversion rates, underlining the significant impact of audience intelligence and personalisation in B2B marketing. For more details on this case study, visit Heinz Marketing.
2. Content is still king
Trend Insight: The saying “content is king” continues to reign true. The emphasis is on crafting content that’s not only high-quality but also deeply relevant and engaging, as well as creating narratives that resonate with the audience and address their needs and aspirations.
How market research can help: Market research is key to elevating content strategies through insightful thought leadership. Researching audience preferences, interests and challenges as well as competitive strategies provides a comprehensive understanding of what captivates B2B audience groups. This allows businesses to find their voice and produce content that is unique, influential, and persuasive.
Recent Example: According to e-commerce giant Oberlo, 70% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. But is that a wise thing to do? After all, it’s been over two decades since billionaire businessman Bill Gates declared that “content is king.” Is this statement still accurate? There’s no point in burying the lede — the answer is an unequivocal yes.
In fact, further statistics from Oberlo show that 62% of marketers outsource at least some of their content marketing, 84% of marketers pay for content distribution, and 25% or more of a brand’s marketing budget is spent on content marketing. This data reinforces the enduring significance of content in modern marketing strategies, highlighting its continued reign as the linchpin of B2B marketing success.
3. Data-driven decision making
Trend Insight: Data is at the heart of all strategic decisions in B2B marketing. The trend for 2024 is not just collecting data but effectively interpreting and applying it to business strategy.
How market research can help: Market research is critical in gathering accurate and relevant data relative to your market. Businesses use this data to drive their growth as well as their marketing and sales strategies, ensuring that every decision is backed by solid evidence.
Aside from surveying your audience or customers, here are some of tools you can use to better understand your market:
- Google Analytics: To track website performance, user behaviour, and audience demographics.
- SEMrush: For competitive analysis and keyword research.
- HubSpot: To understand customer relationships and gain insights into lead generation.
- Moz: For SEO analysis and rank tracking.
- Qualtrics: For in-depth research, including customer experience analysis.
- Ahrefs: To analyse backlinks and enhance digital strategies.
4. Leveraging AI and automation tools
Trend Insight: AI and automation are transforming how B2B strategists and marketers operate, offering unprecedented efficiency and new capabilities.
How market research can help: Market research provides in-depth insights into how your audience think, feel and behave, so you can reach and market to them more effectively. This knowledge can then be leveraged by using the right AI tools to amplify your marketing strategies and campaign delivery.
Market research can also look into how AI can be leveraged and used effectively by businesses and marketers across different B2B sectors, including how it’s changing their industry and the pitfalls to avoid. This includes understanding audience responses to AI-driven initiatives or content, or identifying the most significant trends or useful tools for different marketing functions.
A word of warning, though – while businesses are massively embracing AI, it’s essential to remember that people buy from people. Take the time to build your brand and remember that genuine human connections are irreplaceable. As AI becomes increasingly proficient at generating generic text or emails, there’s a risk of losing the authentic touch that human interaction brings. It serves as a poignant reminder that while AI can streamline processes, fostering real human connections should remain a focal point in B2B relationships.
5. Sustainability as a brand imperative
Trend Insight: People are increasingly paying attention to sustainability and can skillfully and rapidly identify any attempts at greenwashing.Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it’s a crucial component of brand identity in the B2B space and businesses are now expected to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices.
How market research can help: Market research plays a pivotal role in understanding how sustainability impacts consumer perceptions and decision-making. It helps businesses understand what truly matters to their audience, align their sustainability initiatives with their expectations, and decide on which meaningful steps they need to take to win their hearts (and business).
Recent Example: In 2023, Deloitte’s research on consumer attitudes towards sustainability revealed a rise in environmental consciousness. While cost-saving motivations are evident, the research findings emphasise sustainability’s role as a brand imperative, with businesses aligning to meet evolving consumer expectations. Check out the Deloitte Sustainable Consumer 2023 report.
Our recent research for Ivalua also demonstrated that with pressures from customers and regulators on the rise, the spotlight is on organisations to ensure all green claims are legitimate. Read more here – “Green Hues or Smoke and Mirrors? Nearly half of organisations are concerned they’re at risk of unintentional greenwashing.”
6. Embracing B2B E-commerce Platforms
Trend Insight: In B2B marketing, one trend that deserves a spotlight is the growing importance of digitalisation, and in particular the use of e-commerce platforms. While these might have been overlooked in the past, B2b online shops are now gaining momentum as businesses recognise the need to establish a robust online presence and make it as easy as possible for their customers to buy from them.
How market research can help: Market research provides valuable insights into the evolving expectations of B2B buyers as well as motivations and barriers that influence the customer journey and buying cycle.
Recent example: Our recent research for Sana Commerce highlights the urgency for B2B businesses to integrate E-commerce into their marketing strategy, emphasising that it’s no longer a luxury but a necessity for staying competitive. When it comes to building a successful B2B E-commerce platform, it’s safe to say that most B2C rules (or just common sense) apply. B2B shoppers want accurate information on stock, pricing and delivery dates, or to the company’s full product range. They also want a fast checkout and full access to order status, history and invoices.
The role of market research in shaping and guiding businesses to navigate these trends cannot be overstated. From generating in-depth customer insights, data visualisation and personalisation to fostering thought leadership in content creation, market research is the linchpin in navigating the complex B2B marketing landscape.
For more insights and expertise in market research, visit Sapio Research.