B2B Marketing Trends: 10 Ways to Boost Your ROI in 2023
You’ve set your marketing budget for 2023, and you’re already executing your strategy. Throughout the year, there will be plenty of opportunities to optimize what you’re doing.
You can enhance your results by staying out in front of the latest B2B marketing trends. What’s hot? Are there new channels or types of campaigns that are worth trying? How can you make sure you won’t get left behind in 2023?
Espresso B2B Marketing keeps a finger on the pulse as we work with clients of all sizes. Here are 10 places to focus your attention in 2023.
Ten B2B Marketing Trends for 2023
We’ve identified seven emerging trends:
- AI and marketing
- Intent data
- ABM advertising using intent data
- Website visitor identification
- Website personalization
- Using web chatbots instead of forms
- Google Analytics end of life
And here are three trends that never seem to go out of style:
- Clear website messaging
- The need for more content
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
You’ve probably heard the hype about how AI is going to eliminate the need for copywriters. Soon, they say, you’ll simply type a topic into an engine and let it generate content for your blog.
Does it work? The Espresso team recently tested ChatGPT, one of the newestAI models. We asked ChatGPT for examples of how AI is being used in B2B marketing. Here’s what it told us:
There are many ways that AI is being used in B2B marketing. Some examples include:
- Using machine learning algorithms to analyze customer data and generate personalized marketing campaigns.
- Using natural language processing to analyze customer feedback and identify trends and patterns.
- Using chatbots to engage with customers and provide them with information about products and services.
- Using AI-powered marketing automation tools to manage and optimize marketing campaigns.
- Using AI to analyze customer behavior and preferences, and to generate predictive models that can be used to target marketing efforts.
Overall, AI is being used in B2B marketing to improve customer engagement, drive better sales and revenue, and streamline marketing processes.
We were impressed by the relevance and detail of this answer. But when we played around with the tool some more, we encountered its weaknesses. For some of our questions, ChatGPT admitted it couldn’t answer. For others, it returned a vague response.
We don’t believe AI will replace human researchers and writers anytime soon because it lacks critical thinking ability—and because even its best answers generally require some rewriting to sound “human.” But we do think AI can be a useful tool in giving a writer a baseline for a blog post—especially if he or she is suffering from writer’s block or exploring an unfamiliar topic.
What is intent data and why is it one of the hottest B2B marketing trends? We asked ChatGPT about intent data and got this response:
- Intent data refers to information that is collected and analyzed to understand a person’s or group’s intentions or goals. This can be derived from a variety of sources, including online search queries, social media activity, and other forms of digital behavior. Intent data can be used to help businesses understand their customers’ needs and preferences, and to tailor their products and services accordingly.
Meanwhile, Zoominfo told us:
- Intent data is a type of sales intelligence that shows which leads or accounts are actively researching on third-party sites. When research on a particular topic is higher than usual, the account spikes on those topics.
That’s a good start. We would add to that by saying intent data combines big data with machine learning (ML) and AI to help you focus your marketing efforts on the prospects most likely to be in-market for a solution like yours – right now.
There are three types of intent data. You probably already collect first-party intent data, which is generated by tracking who’s visiting your website or downloading your assets. It’s also generated by the sales team and their live conversations with prospects.
Second-party intent data is acquired from another company. For example, you might buy data from G2.com. It can give you the names of companies that recently showed interest in a certain type of software—for example, all the companies that read online reviews of supply chain software.
Third-party intent data is what people normally think of when they think of intent data. It requires gathering data about user behavior across the internet. For example, the blog articles people read, the ebooks they download, and the webinars they attend. For privacy reasons, the data is provided at the company (or account) level.
The promise, of course, is that rather than blanketing your target market with campaigns and hoping a small percentage of prospects are interested, you could use intent data to target all your marketing and sales efforts at those who have demonstrated recent interest. You could eliminate cold-calling—and perhaps even email unsubscribes.
The question is: does it work? One Bombora case study highlights a company that achieved a 10x increase in campaign response rates while reducing cost-per-click by 94 percent.
We believe B2B companies should start experimenting with intent data and expect a learning curve. Some sources of intent data will prove to be more valuable than others.
ABM Advertising Using Intent Data
By now, we’re all familiar with account-based marketing (ABM), an approach in which a company strives to offer a highly personalized, 1:1 experience for its top desired clients. It should be no surprise that companies are using intent data to drive their ABM campaigns.
For example, companies are using intent data to build custom audiences for more targeted display advertising campaigns. You can load a custom audience into an ABM platform (if you have one) and market to only the segment of your target market demonstrating the most intent. Examples of ABM platforms are Demandbase, Terminus, and Rollworks. But you can also load intent data into LinkedIn Advertising, Facebook, Instagram, or a programmatic advertising platform such as StackAdapt, The Trade Desk, or Basis.
Using intent data should make your ad campaigns more efficient since you’ll be advertising only to those companies that are in the market for your products or solutions. Knowing that your intent-audience may be in-market for a new solution, you can adapt your ad copy and offers for the best possible results.
Website Visitor Identification
Most B2B website visitors (up to 97%) leave without submitting a form. They remain anonymous. What if you could identify the company each visitor works for? Wouldn’t this information help your sales team? Think of how you could adapt your marketing campaigns to leverage this information.
Modern website visitor identification is one of the most promising B2B marketing trends because it promises to help us all address the major frustration of building a killer website and then having so many visitors leave without revealing their identities. The technology is far from perfect, but it’s always improving.
Companies such as Clearbit, ZoomInfo, and RollWorks can tell you the company a website visitor works for (not 100% of the time, of course). Even if you could only identify 50% of the visitors, that would be huge. Think of the difference that could make in your marketing efforts throughout 2023.
You can also go one step further with the data you gather from website visitor identification. Clearbit and Zoominfo are two of the solutions that can help you tailor your website’s user experience based on a visitor’s company. Rather than presenting the user with the same resources as everyone else, you can guide them through a personalized journey that’s more likely to lead to a conversion.
For example, suppose someone from a manufacturing company arrived at your website, and your company had solutions geared towards manufacturing companies. You could guide them to those solutions and offer them content relevant to manufacturing companies. That sort of personalized experience would lead to more engagement and a much better experience for the prospect.
Using Chatbots Instead of Forms
One of the most surprising B2B marketing trends of 2023 will be the utter disappearance of web forms. That is, if Drift has its way.
As the maker of web chatbots, Drift has taken aim at web forms on the grounds that they are less personal than chatbots. Some B2B companies are already embracing this idea and using chatbots to replace forms. The chatbots still collect the same information that a form would collect, but the user experience is more conversational.
We see Drift’s point: chatbots are clearly more interactive than forms. But we’re still skeptical. If a chat conversation takes longer to complete, many users in our time-crunched world may prefer the simplicity and transparency of a form.
Furthermore, “interactive” doesn’t always mean “personal.” Most people realize that the front end of a chatbot conversation isn’t handled by a human—it’s run by a bot that follows a rules-based script. And you never know how many questions a chatbot is going to ask. With a simple web form, you usually know up front how much data you’ll need to provide.
If you’re interested in chatbots, we recommend conducting A/B tests with the landing pages you use in your campaigns. Go with whichever approach produces the highest quality leads.
Google Analytics End of Life
We weren’t sure this one belonged on a list of B2B marketing trends—except for the fact that it will affect every company that markets to other companies.
Google is retiring the Google Analytics tool we’ve all used for years and replacing it with a new analytics product called GA4. The cutoff will come on July 1, 2023.
Here’s what you need to know:
- GA4 doesn’t come with all your favorite reports that you’ve come to rely upon in GA3. You must build the reports in GA4. We recommend making a list of the reports you frequently use in GA3. Then, build each report in GA4. Optionally, you can build reports in Google Data Studio. But beware: Data Studio has a steep learning curve.
- If you’ve created goals in Google Analytics and use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to record the events that drive your goals, you’ll need to recreate these goals in GA4. You’ll also need to update GTM to link to the new goals in GA4. (By the way, GA4 calls them “events” instead of “goals.”)
- If you entered your Google Analytics account number into your marketing automation system (such as HubSpot) or a WordPress plugin, you’ll need to update these because your GA4 account number is different.
Here’s the catch: Google isn’t providing a way to move your current Google Analytics data into the new solution. We’re sorry we don’t have a secret workaround to share. We only hope you’ve already started running GA4 to collect data from your website. If not, stop reading this article, log in to Google Analytics, and get GA4 up and running. Here’s how.
II. Back to Basics
When our clients ask us about the hottest B2B marketing trends for 2023, we remind them not to forget the basics. If you’re not making sure your website messaging is consistent, staying on top of your search engine optimization (SEO) game, and cranking out as much high-quality content as you can, then it won’t really matter how much time and money you spend trying to master the latest social media channel.
We recommend doubling down on these strategies in 2023.
Hone Your Website Messaging
Building a company website is a huge undertaking—and a costly one. That’s probably why so many companies will launch their website and then forget about it for several years. Sure, they’ll swap out banners and content offers on their homepage, add new blog articles, and post new press releases, but they won’t stop and analyze how all the elements of the site are supporting their latest brand message.
Is your messaging strong, or is it just okay? It needs to be strong. Think of the things that require subtle tweaks to your messaging. Maybe you’ve added new capabilities to your product, so your story has changed. Maybe the analysts have introduced a new term, and you want to weave it into your copy. Maybe you’ve discovered you have a strength compared to the competition, and you want to emphasize that part of your story.
We’re not saying you need to rewrite your entire site. But if you wrote your website’s primary pages 3 years ago (or more), they probably need a refresh.
Make sure, also, that your website design reflects the latest in responsive web design. That means fixing pages that don’t display properly on mobile devices. It’s surprising that so many websites still haven’t been optimized for mobile devices. Even B2B websites get very significant chunks of traffic from mobile devices. And don’t forget to visit your social media pages, too, to make sure they’re as fresh as – and align with – your website.
Take SEO Seriously
Over the years, self-styled SEO experts have come up with countless SEO tips, tricks, and taboos. There are quite a few myths floating around the SEO space and there probably always will be. But one thing hasn’t changed: the need to make sure your site shows up when people search for it. Companies that want to stay in business can’t just shrug off SEO as “too complicated” and ignore it altogether as they create content. They’ll end up with invisible websites.
Effective SEO isn’t about hot tips and tricks. It’s about discipline. It’s about finding the phrases (keywords) people are using to search for products and services like the ones you offer, and then making sure your web pages and blog articles use those phrases as they describe the value your company offers.
You may not see SEO on a list of B2B marketing trends because it’s not a hot new technique. It’s old news. Most companies have either embraced it and enjoyed the results or ignored it and gotten punished by Google. Don’t get punished. Optimize every page of your site—and never create new content without putting some thought into SEO.
The Need for More Content
If you’re a B2B company, you can never have too much content. According to one survey, 47 percent of buyers look at three to five pieces of content before making contact with a company. In our experience, it can take eight or nine touches to generate a conversation.
Every blog article you write offers the reader more perspective into who you are and what you have to offer before they even reach out to you with questions. Every landing page you post not only offers your gated content but can also show up in search engines (if you heed our previous tip about SEO). Every case study you post provides proof of your promises and builds trust with your audience.
Having good content can also help you with whatever new B2B marketing trends emerge in the future. Regardless of what new channel you’re using to reach your audience, you’ll want to offer them high-quality content as a premium. And as you nurture new leads through the buying cycle, it’s your content that will win the day.
Having fresh content is also a key to success. Read an eBook or white paper your company wrote three years ago. I suspect you’ll find that it sounds a bit dated. Design trends change quickly. It might even look a bit dated. But it usually can be refreshed quickly and in a cost-effective way. These are smart investments.
Many executives tend to think creating content is a one-and-done task. They think you write eBooks and white papers, generate some blog posts, create some case studies, and then sit back and let these pieces do the work of attracting organic traffic. But it’s important to keep your content fresh by adding pieces that will keep visitors returning to your website regularly.
Let’s Discuss B2B Marketing Trends
Get more bang for your marketing buck in 2023. At Espresso, we stay on top of the latest B2B marketing trends, but we also believe in stressing the basics. If you’re ready to set your marketing strategy for the coming year, let’s schedule some time to talk.