10 Ways B2B Marketing Has Changed In the Past 10 Years
Ah, 2013. We twerked! We took selfies! We watched “The Red Wedding!” And the one-woman shop that would one day become Accelity, led by our Founder & CEO Jackie Hermes, was born.
The B2B marketing space looked pretty different than it does today. In honor of 10 years of Accelity, we’re sharing 10 ways we’ve seen B2B marketing change since 2013.
1. Digital transformation
Like many of our clients’ industries, B2B marketing has also undergone a major digital transformation in the past 10 years, with companies embracing digital channels, tools, and technologies to reach and engage their target audience. This includes leveraging social media, content marketing, email marketing, SEO and marketing automation platforms.
What did we do before digital? For the youngsters reading this blog, we had to physically mail newsletters, fliers and sales information—in the snow, uphill, both ways. In-person trade shows, conferences and networking events were also a big part of the strategy. Oh, and don’t forget straight-up cold calling.
Digital marketing certainly existed for B2B before 2013, but it was a smaller component of hte strategy than it is today.
📂 From the Accelity archives: One of our early blogs from 2015, How To Track Marketing Metrics Without Getting Lost In The Details
2. Content marketing
Ah, our bread and butter! Content marketing has now become a crucial aspect of B2B marketing, and it was starting to get really hot in the mid-2010s. Companies focus on creating high-quality, informative content that educates and engages their target audience. This includes white papers, case studies, ebooks, blog posts, webinars and podcasts.
B2B companies were hyped about content marketing for two reasons:
- Content marketing educates prospects on a topic without being overly sales-y, building trust and nurturing leads to prepare them for the sale.
- Content marketing (specifically blogging) was a clever way to boost SEO by creating more, higher-quality webpages featuring target keywords without keyword stuffing (which Google was starting to punish).
Content marketing definitely isn’t new (fun fact: Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his printing press) but from 2012 to 2013, the use of content marketing jumped from about 60% of a company’s overall marketing strategy to 93%.
📂 From the Accelity archives: The Best Content Marketing Strategies Your B2B SaaS Startup Needs (2016)
3. Account-based marketing (ABM)
ABM has gained significant traction in B2B marketing over the past decade, and it’s a tool we love to test with our clients. Instead of targeting broad audiences, marketers now focus on specific accounts and personalize their marketing efforts to engage key decision-makers within those accounts.
While companies have always had big fish prospects they hoped to catch, and key executives they wanted to target, the changes in technology and data in the past 10 years have made ABM much easier to execute. Thanks to LinkedIn and Google, it’s easy to learn a ton about a prospect to know how to best craft a message that will resonate. (And our team would rather put our detective skills to use finding our clients new leads instead of spying on our exes…)
📂 From the Accelity archives: Why Account Based Marketing Should be Your Top Small Business Lead Generation Strategy (2017)
4. Account-based advertising
In addition to account-based marketing, B2B companies have embraced account-based advertising as another targeted tactic. With programmatic advertising (mainly on LinkedIn) and other targeted techniques to reach specific accounts and decision-makers with personalized messages.
Before marketers had this functionality, we might have a general sense of where to send an email or mail a flyer, and then hoped it found the right person. Today, we can run sophisticated LinkedIn Ads campaigns and to target and re-target individuals based on their industry, company, location, job title and more to make sure we’re maximizing our chances of success and conserving precious ad dollars.
📂 From the Accelity archives: Convert More Leads with This B2B LinkedIn Ads Targeting Strategy (2019)
5. Social selling and personal branding
B2B sales teams have embraced social media platforms to build relationships, generate leads, and facilitate sales. Social selling involves using social networks to identify and engage with prospects, share relevant content, and establish industry expertise. For B2B marketers, this means LinkedIn is king.
While many people think of LinkedIn as a place to find a job, B2B marketers know that LinkedIn is where you go to make a sale. But it’s not all about cold outreach. Having a strong personal brand presence, engaging with people’s posts, and demonstrating your thought leadership are all important pieces of the puzzle. At Accelity, we’ve found that 28% of our company’s all-time revenue can be directly attributed to our CEO’s personal brand(!).
📂 From the Accelity archives: Differentiate Yourself Through Personal Branding (2015)
6. Video content
Video content has not only become increasingly prevalent in digital marketing in the past 10 years, but the way we think about video has changed too. While highly produced videos are still important to brand marketing the rise of influencer marketing and front-facing video content make it easy for anyone to simple open their phone and share a message.
Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok and the rise of live streaming on social media have opened up new avenues for businesses to engage with their audience through compelling visual storytelling. Even LinkedIn is no the video trend with LinkedIn Live, video posts and ads, and LinkedIn Stories.
📂 From the Accelity archives: How to Incorporate B2B SaaS Video in Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey (2019)
7. Marketing automation
B2B marketers heavily rely on marketing automation platforms to streamline their processes, nurture leads, and drive conversions. Automation tools help with lead scoring, email marketing, lead nurturing, and campaign tracking.
While workflows existed previously, platforms like HubSpot make it easy to nurture leads through the funnel much more quickly than when done manually. Once a lead has entered the sequence, they’ll continue to receive customized, targeted content depending on what action they take. Automation gets leads sales-ready much faster.
📂 From the Accelity archives: Why Your B2B SaaS Company Needs Marketing Automation Software (2019)
8. Data-driven decision-making
The availability of vast amounts of data has revolutionized consumer marketing certainly, and it’s changed the game for B2B marketing too. Marketers now rely on data analytics and insights to inform their decision-making processes, measure campaign effectiveness, and optimize marketing strategies.
With such precise information available, marketers have a much better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t. We can turn off ads if they aren’t resonating with the audience, or use more red CTA buttons if the audience loves clicking them. Data and analytics makes it easier to demonstrate the ROI of marketing efforts.
📂 From the Accelity archives: How to Navigate Analytics (2015)
9. Personalization and customization
All of this data and analytics have enabled B2B marketing to shift towards delivering personalized experiences for prospects. Marketers can use customer data to segment their audience and deliver tailored content, messages, and offers that resonate with their target accounts.
Now, instead of having just one landing page that appeals to a broad audience (risking that it actually appeals to no one), you can create custom landing pages for each buyer persona. You can send those links out to segmented email lists by job title or company size to ensure the right message is hitting the right person, every time.
📂 From the Accelity archives: How to Effectively Personalize Content Marketing to Increase Engagement (2020)
10. Integration of sales and marketing
The lines between sales and marketing have blurred in B2B organizations. Alignment between the two departments is crucial, with joint strategies, shared goals, and close collaboration to drive revenue growth. Marketing is no longer solely responsible for generating leads but plays a significant role in supporting the sales process throughout the buyer’s journey.
We navigate this relationship a ton with our clients (and within our own org!). Sometimes we’re working with an internal marketing team, sometimes it’s an outsourced CMO, and often it’s a sales leader who is our point of contact. With clear expectations and well-defined roles, sales and marketing can work as well as peanut butter and jelly.
📂 From the Accelity archives: Become a Sales and Marketing Rockstar with SLAs (2018)
What will the next 10 years have in store for B2B marketing?
Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how some of these bleeding-edge trends from 2013 would become standard practice in a decade. While we might have envisioned the potential for content marketing or automation, no one could have prediction the massive way a global pandemic changed the way we work and communicate with one another.
So, what will be doing in the next decade? Will we be marketing in the metaverse? Will data become so targeted that consumers barely have to shop, or will it finally be regulated? Will none of this matter because AI took our jobs?
Regardless of what the future holds, Accelity is excited to spend the next 10 years digging into the trends and tools that will help us deliver stronger results for our clients.