What are the current trends in B2B communication? Those who know these can communicate more successfully and achieve their marketing goals better. Guest Author Dr. Venera D’Elia explains what is important in 2022.
One of the most important efforts in terms of integrated B2B communication is to overcome internal silo thinking and to spread consistent messages across channels. Against this background, content marketing and owned media are gaining new relevance. And associated technologies such as marketing automation and artificial intelligence. In general, digitization is mandatory – earlier trends, such as communicating online and via social media, have long since become mandatory. Accordingly, the customer journey is becoming less and less linear. It applies Leads with customized lead marketing to accompany them individually in their purchase decision. It is advisable to present your own brand authentically. All of this shows that communication is becoming more multi-layered and complex. It is all the more important to stay up-to-date and to be aware of the following trends.
1 . Integrated B2B communication: corporate communications, PR and marketing become one
In the meantime, the principle “First the content, then the channels” is undisputed. Around basic content marketing maxim implementing it requires an integrated approach. This is solely due to the fact that there are more and more opportunities to get in touch with your own target group and to stand out in the flood of information – be it through cooperation with internal and external influencers and multipliers or through the informative processing and communicative use of existing data material. Against this background Data PR an important trend in B2B communication.
Either way: Customers and prospects must be accompanied with consistent messages throughout the entire customer journey. The example of influencer marketing shows that it is often not (or no longer) possible to assign a measure to the area of corporate communications, PR or marketing. What is needed is a rethinking and reorganization of communication. It is important to overcome former borders and pull together in a communicative direction. In this course, there will be agencies that either Classic public relations are specialized or offer services in the field of marketing will have a hard time in the future. As the current study “The future of PR“ by aclipp shows that 71 percent of the agencies already classify themselves as communication agencies with a comprehensive range of services. The same applies to companies: More and more rely on a central organization of external communication.
2. Online media outperform traditional media
It will also be important in the future to include digital channels in the communication mix. The current investigation “B2B Online Marketing Trends 2022According to eMinded, 77 percent of those surveyed use online channels such as their own website, social media platforms or apps to arouse the interest of potential customers and generate leads. The situation is almost even clearer among the PR professionals surveyed: online media are outstripping traditional print media in terms of importance. It also shows that social media are now considered to be equivalent to print media (94 percent). At the same time, social networks are fueling the increasing popularity of audio and video formats. For example, corporate podcasts are more popular than ever: More and more companies are setting up their own corporate podcast or using audio and video contributions to position experts.
3. B2B communication: The customer journey is becoming more and more individual
The customer journey now almost always starts online. But from this point on, the journey of stakeholders and potential customers through the channels is less linear than it used to be. One of the current trends – which is also a major challenge – is to make the customer journey more and more individual. The means to an end: tailor-made and target group-oriented content that is available across channels along the individual touchpoints.
“Tailor-made” means two things. On the one hand, companies position themselves over time as a reliable partner who knows the needs of customers and prospects, addresses them in a useful way and ultimately presents the right solution. On the other hand, companies are required to accompany each individual lead as individually as possible. If a person is interested in a certain topic, they usually look online for suitable materials. She might stumble upon a whitepaper, download it, then attend a webinar, and finally fill out the callback form on the website. Another lead could continue researching on other websites after reading the white paper, which would result in a completely different customer journey.
4. Digitization and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly important
In order to serve the large number of channels as simultaneously and in real time as possible, more and more digital tools are needed. Otherwise, it is not very efficient – if not impossible – to implement a content-centric approach and to provide stakeholders and potential customers with consistent messages and helpful information along the customer journey. In this context, the newsroom concept, which was previously known from journalistic editorial offices, is finding its way into companies: the corporate newsroom becomes the control center of companies. Suitable, AI-based software tools are indispensable for maximum efficiency and high-quality output.
According to the study by aclipp, almost all PR drivers now use intelligent software. The use of AI tools in communication work is still often a thing of the future, but the trend is clearly going in this direction. In any case, companies should now deal with this topic in order not to be left behind. Anyone who scores with the target group with technologies such as voice mining, text mining and digital assistants already has an advantage. There are plenty of examples in B2C of how marketers can achieve a tailor-made approach in this way. This includes, for example, customized advertising for umbrellas when bad weather is reported in a region. One thing is certain: data is the new gold. A treasure that companies should better dig up yesterday than tomorrow. The right tools for this are intelligent tools based on artificial intelligence.
5. Strengthen the brand with authentic B2B communication
Thanks to Generation Z in particular (born between 1997 and 2010), values such as moral, social and ecological responsibility are also finding their way into the business world. How customers evaluate a brand or make a purchase decision is closely related to the issues of authenticity and responsible behavior of an organization. The study “Truth about Gen ZThe McCann Worldgroup shows that 57 percent of respondents would pay more for products from a company that shares their values. Social commitment, diversity and environmental protection occupy the top spots. B2B companies are also well advised to become clear about their self-image – their purpose. And to communicate this in an authentic way. It is obvious that sustainable action and a corporate culture characterized by diversity are becoming increasingly important for one’s own purpose.
Digression: The importance of influencer marketing
In order to communicate one’s own values authentically and to increase brand awareness, Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly important. What works best in the B2C area with Youtubers and Instagramers is still in its infancy in the B2B area, but has great potential. Because the principle is the same, only the implementation is different. While well-known people with tens of millions of followers are suitable as influencers in B2C, awareness and reach are less important in B2B. Because the purchase decision is made less quickly and emotionally, but more slowly and fact-based. If you let satisfied employees, reference customers, business partners or experts speak for your company, you can do influencer marketing very successfully in the B2B environment.
B2B communication: more digital, more individual and more authentic
The current developments in B2B communication are strongly influenced by content marketing with the principle “content first”. This results in a sustained upswing in social media and – associated with this – the increased use of intelligent software and AI-based tools. There are also new challenges associated with a change in values in society. In order to survive in competition with your own products and services as well as as a corporate brand, an attitude is required that is characterized by social responsibility, sustainable action and diversity. It is important to communicate this purpose in an authentic way. B2B communication is more multi-layered and complex than ever before and at the same time has more opportunities to be successful than ever before. The maxim can therefore only be: Be more digital, more individual and more authentic! (sg)
About the author: dr Venera D’Elia is Head of Business Development at Moeller Horcher communication. The native Russian has been living and working in Germany since 2000. Since 2005 she has strengthened the communications team at Möller Horcher in Offenbach. The mother of two is now Head of Business Development and Senior Consultant. The communications agency Möller Horcher offers many years of experience and know-how in the field of PR, content marketing and lead marketing. Her focus is on complex topics in the business-to-business communication of IT and high-tech companies. (sg)
Also read: B2B Marketing 2021: Marketers should not miss these trends