June 21, 2024


Technological development

Three B2B Marketing Trends To Watch For In 2022


CMO and CEO at Arketi Group, building thought leadership for a team specializing in PR/digital marketing for B2B tech companies.

Every year, my company holds its annual B2B Technology CMO Roundtable in Atlanta. During the 15th annual event in fall 2021—which was live and in-person once again—about 60 of the sharpest marketing minds I know convened to discuss their plans and expectations for 2022. Conversations included thought-provoking, marketing-related success stories and challenges, best practices, new ideas and trends. After letting those conversations brew in my mind for a bit, I’d like to share three ideas that rose to the top and encapsulate trends B2B marketers will likely see throughout the year.

1. The new buying reality is tricky.

Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study reveals that, during the pandemic, the number of buying interactions leaped from 17 to 27 (to put this into perspective, there was only a one-point increase between 2017 and 2019). With more touchpoints, we can expect more complexity and challenges throughout the customer journey.

And while B2B customers rely on salespeople less and on the internet more, this new buying reality continues to grow in importance. That same Forrester study found that B2B prospects research vendors and products online well before they engage with a salesperson, completing as much as three-quarters of their buying journey before making themselves known.

Since there are more touchpoints in the sales cycle than ever—many anonymous—a rich variety of content is essential. Like everything else these past two years, traditional sales activities have been upended by having to work in a virtual world. For starters, it’s much more difficult to read the room as it’s likely a Zoom call, a Teams room or another virtual setting. As a result, many up-and-coming salespeople lack experience selling in the real world and struggle to close deals. Perhaps as face-to-face meetings become more common once again, this will change. But it’s likely buyers won’t reverse course completely and will continue researching products and services online before buying.

2. The mad dash to own data continues.

Data is a big deal—but who owns it? Both marketing and sales are responsible for capturing data; however, seasoned execs at the roundtable unanimously agreed marketing is increasingly taking over the role of data custodian. Sure, sales may disagree in detail, but in substance, marketing making data its little darling isn’t all that surprising. After all, the now-widespread CRM and automation tools we use to track customer and prospect engagement were largely built with marketers in mind. Take a look at your own dashboard and the number of widgets, data points and charts to see what I mean.

Speaking of data, its quality is always a concern since data is only as good as the person who inputs and/or interprets it, which requires domain knowledge that isn’t always present. Data for data’s sake should be avoided because this can lead to information overload, as well as inferior, conflicting or out-and-out wrong data. A few attendees even pointed out some of their sales colleagues, set in their ways, give in to the temptation to input data as it fits their needs—not good!

3. Regulations hamper data capturing.

Increased privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act and other data privacy laws at national and state levels make capturing data downright difficult. Marketers are already feeling the impact of Apple’s privacy changes. Google’s decision to phase out the third-party cookie in 2023, and the robust visitor profiles that come with it, will complicate matters even more.

At the roundtable, one marketer shared an interesting tidbit about those common “accept cookies” banners that I think is worth trying. When A/B testing this banner, the marketer found that placing it at the top of the page rather than the bottom significantly increased opt-ins. Test this sooner rather than later since we’ll need to wean ourselves from these banners when cookies are phased out completely.

Keep these trends on your radar.

B2B marketers, forever agents of change, are hopefully excited to dig into these three trends. We’ll do what it takes to drive brand awareness, engage with our audience and generate interest. And at the end year, it’ll be interesting to look back and see which trends discussed during the B2B Technology Roundtable come to fruition. I believe 2022 will usher in changes to how we navigate the new buying reality, capture and improve the quality of data and find ways to track consumer behavior in light of continuously increasing privacy regulation.

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