Change is the only constant when it comes to marketing.

Marketing is really a game of catchup if you think about it. Tactics and strategies constantly change to meet buyer behavior.

In the past, B2B marketing focused on literally marketing product features and benefits – but that’s changed.

Buyers don’t want to hear all about how great your company and products are. They want to know how you can add value to their lives.

These digital marketing trends for 2021 in B2B are just what you need to stay not only current but ahead of the game.

Digital marketing trends for 2021 are all about creating a personalized experience for your audience. Customers, leads, visitors – everyone should have easy access to information that helps them.

Make no mistake. Lots of B2B organizations will be left behind over the next year or two. COVID-19 lockdowns pushed businesses online this year and accelerated digital transformations.

Over the next year, we’ll see lots of optimizing with AI and digital tools. Many organizations won’t keep up. Those who can’t adapt to changing expectations have a few hard years ahead of them.

1. An Interactive Content Experience

Research shows B2B buyers have way less time to research than they did in the past. 73% say they’re pressed for time and consume up to seven pieces of content before taking the plunge and connecting with a sales team.

Interactive content gives visitors what they want before they even ask because it’s driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. In fact, buyers say they’re willing to binge content for up to 20 minutes if you provide it in an interactive format.

2. Better B2B Video Marketing

In 2019, Forrester found that only 19 out of 60 B2B companies took full advantage of video on their website. Expect that to change in 2021. Buyers want bitesize information – and they love video.

Video makes it easy to multitask and consume information. Make video a part of your strategy at every stage of the funnel with things like:

  • Introductions for your team
  • Product and service demonstrations
  • Tutorials and post-purchase support
  • Informative industry news and content

3. Optimized Digital Events

It’s no surprise that digital events have skyrocketed in 2020. We didn’t really have a choice this year. However, don’t expect online events to go away anytime soon.

Even as things return to normal throughout 2021, people have still come to expect digital access to events as a way of life. Plus, digital events and conferences open you up to a wider audience and exposure.

In 2021, however, we’ll see more brands optimizing their online events. Organizations will hone their apps, marketing strategies, tracking, and purpose for their events.

4. Artificial Intelligence

AI has surged in B2B marketing this year. Today, 84% of marketers use AI in their strategies compared to just 29% in 2018.

While AI is all the rage among marketers, using it to their advantage and producing tangible results is another story. In 2021, we’ll see AI use plateau as marketers figure out its true potential and where it works best.

5. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is huge in the consumer sector, but B2B has yet to realize its true potential. For one thing, B2B brands are still struggling to get their data integrity straight.

Most B2B brands are plagued with low-quality, missing, and incorrect data. Over 2021, we’ll see organizations prioritize their data so they can reap the benefits of predictive analytics.

6. Humanized Marketing Strategies

83% of business buyers say that you must treat them like a human rather than just a sale if you want to win their business.

In our increasingly digital world these days, brands can’t afford to set-and-forget their marketing strategies. You need human connections.

More businesses will realize this over the next year. Expect to see more tools like chats, WhatsApp, Telegram, and even forums like Reddit and Discord take off.

7. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Anything that becomes standard in the consumer sector will find its way into B2B marketing as well. Augmented and virtual reality are no different.

Major B2B organizations like Airbus and GE have already started dabbling in augmented reality. As developers hone the technology and prices start to decrease, accessibility will increase as well.

8. Widespread Use of Intent Data

Smart B2B organizations have already jumped into intent data wholeheartedly.

As Google and other browsers phase out third-party cookies over the next year, brands will need something else to power their marketing decisions. Fortunately, intent data and behavioral data are much timelier and more accurate.

9. Dropping Gated Content

Gated content does nothing but isolate you and hold you back.

When people arrive at your site and see gated content behind a form, one of two things happen:

  • They hit the back button and look for the information elsewhere
  • They fill out the form with false information just to access your content

Instead, we’ll see smart brands ungate their content this year, providing heft samples to visitors. Instead of invasive forms with five or more fields, we’ll see micro smart forms that only ask for a business email address and country location.

10. B2B Influencers

Influencers are still a new area for B2B brands, but in many ways, they’re not. Silicon Valley has always been fertile ground for B2B influencers.

Over the next year, we’ll see B2Bs in areas like fintech and AI harness the power of thought leadership in authoritative ways.

AI is the Future of Digital Marketing in B2B

Artificial intelligence is leading the way in all B2B digital marketing trends for 2021.

AI and machine learning drive interactive content, predictive analytics, intent data use, and even data privacy in many ways. Adding an AI engine to your B2B website helps distribute content in a hyper-personalized format based on behavior. Plus, you can use data from behavior to learn about your audience on multiple levels.

Learn more about how AI is changing the face of B2B marketing and how you can use it to provide personalized content.

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