B2B tech marketers entered 2022 with a positive outlook, according to research from FINITE and 93x. The reasons?
Most (80 percent) say they met or outperformed their 2021 targets, and with increased budgets for a majority of marketers in 2022, the outlook was rosy.
That isn’t to say there aren’t changes happening or challenges still to be tackled. Let’s look at what marketers whose brands include SaaS and enterprise software are focusing on in their strategies this year.
Return of Events
While the pandemic is still impacting B2B events, marketers surveyed by FINITE and 93x say they were one of the channels with the most growth in importance. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the “events” category includes not only in-person events, which are slowly returning to B2B calendars, but also virtual events such as webinars. What marketers are leaning away from in 2022 is combining virtual and in-person to create hybrid events—only 35 percent intend to try to reach both audiences simultaneously this year, while 45 percent will do both virtual and face-to-face, but not hybrid. Another 9 percent plan only face-to-face events and 11 percent will do only virtual.
Face-to-face events have the advantage of more personal connections and engagement, while virtual events can reach audiences that may not have the time or budget for travel. Which will your brand use to reach B2B buyers this year?
Tech marketers also cited SEO as being of growing importance in 2021 and into 2022. I’m not surprised—we’ve noted in the past that B2B decision-makers are increasingly doing a large portion of their research before engaging with a vendor directly, which makes an online presence and findability essential to success.
Another interesting result from the surveys is a focus by marketers—nearly 3 in 4—on brand marketing, moving beyond selling specific products to an investment in building the larger brand’s familiarity and reputation in the market.
In the FINITE/93x report of the finding, Geoff Stedman, CMO, SDVI Corporation, expresses sentiments that match my own about why brand marketing is so important. First, as mentioned above, most of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer connects with the vendor’s sales team. High quality brand content that informs and inspires is necessary to build a connection during that phase.
“Second,” he writes, “B2B buyers consume 10 or more channels of communication to interact with suppliers (what some call omnichannel sales). Across these channels, having a strong and consistent brand message is vital to building the relationship with prospective customers. Yes, we need a strong brand message to attract potential clients at the top of the funnel, but we also need strong brand assets to guide and equip that prospect through every interaction until they reach the point of sales engagement.”
Sounds familiar to me.
The B2B tech marketing challenges
Of course, the perennial challenge for all marketers (I’ve been writing about this for years) is proving the ROI of marketing efforts. While marketing automation provides more tools for tracking sales back to specific marketing channels and content, it can still be difficult for marketers to provide the kind of detailed attribution needed to show how much impact their efforts have on the company’s bottom line.
Additional challenges cited by the SaaS and enterprise software marketers surveyed include building a strong brand (hence the increased budget being dedicated to that effort) and achieving sales/marketing alignment, which is another perennial discussion we’ve had on this blog. (See How Marketing Can Make Your Sales Department More Effective and Are Your Sales & Marketing Departments Communicating?)
B2B buyers of technology, including enterprise software and SaaS solutions are sophisticated consumers who have a strong need to research their purchase decisions, and they are adept at using the internet for that research before ever talking with a vendor. That means your content marketing plays an outsized role in reaching prospects and building a relationship and trust from the beginning.
Learn more about our experience in helping brands in this field reach their customers with quality content:
Let’s talk about what your B2B technology brand needs to create the content that will build a solid brand reputation for today’s buying journey. Schedule a time in my calendar to chat.