The “new normal,” as it is called by the media focuses on more socially-distant experiences and a dependency on technology. This means changing the way B2B companies work, from advertising and marketing to sustaining customer interest, selling, and more.
Social Media Impact
Like many other companies, our marketing strategy shifted to more of a focus on social media and online activities. With COVID driving nearly half the workforce to working remote and dramatically increasing social media usage, finding ways to still interact, cut through the noise and stay top of mind is extremely competitive.
Nobody truly wins when a pandemic hits, yet 2020 has been tremendous for social media. Not just the massive growth in engaged users on TikTok and Instagram. The B2B social network, LinkedIn has also seen a significant increase in both the amount of content published and the amount of interaction with that content.
(LinkedIn, Source: Transmission)
We shifted our social media strategy by encouraging employee engagement and increasing our activity with culture posts and high-quality content. During a time of uncertainly, people want to engage and interact with authentic, trustworthy brands. One of the best ways to build trust and cut through the noise on social media is through your employees. Social posts by employees generate 8X more engagement and are trusted more than posts from their employer. Increasing our social media presence in addition to rolling out an Employee Social Media Advocacy Challenge, yielded a 125% increase in referral sessions from social.
Content & SEO
Focus on Customer Needs & Experience
In the early stages of the pandemic, we took the time to adjust our existing strategy to ensure that we are creating relevant content and aligning our messaging with the realities of the “new normal.” These updates were made through our website, blog/campaign content, contributed articles, SEO strategy, and social media channels.
We added a search bar to our website to help our audience find relevant content and increase the overall user experience. We grew our blog by featuring guest post contributions and a 14-part content series campaign focused on helping our customers and collaborating during a crisis.
94% of marketers changed their content marketing strategy because of the pandemic.
Pandemic Related Topics Surged
Rise of Virtual Events & Webinars
Along with shifting our content and social media strategies, we have shifted our focus on generating leads online. The main driver for this is COVID and the inability to go to in-person events where we tend to do well – trade shows, panel speaking, dinners, etc. This has resulted in us getting some pretty decent leads, including a large established enterprise.
We had to cancel a session at Frost and Sullivan Product Dev Expo and the MDM panel, so we have been offering consultations to startups and running supporting Product Development chat rooms for incubators.
Going forward as we operate in the new normal, every event will have some type of virtual component. B2B marketing leaders need to learn how to leverage higher quality video during live or virtual events. Not only is high-quality video imperative, but making the event as engaging as an in-person event is just as important.
Just like B2B companies had to finetune their marketing strategies on social media to cut through the noise, they will have to do the same for virtual events. With more and more companies turning to virtual events to replace in-person trade shows and events, the need to make these virtual experiences unique, engaging, and memorable for their audience is extremely important.
The global pandemic has changed the world’s B2B marketing space with a new norm. B2B Marketing during COVID has moved experiences online.
With in-person events not in the foreseeable future, B2B companies will continue to shift to virtual experiences such as webinars. I expect over the next quarter the use and overall experience around educational webinars will increase dramatically. Furthermore, funds allocated to events and tradeshows will now need to be reallocated to other lead generation activities. B2B companies are now focusing their investments on marketing tools such as Webinars, Organic Social Media, Videos, and SEO.
Social media, specifically LinkedIn, has seen great growth over the last few months in content shared and engagement. This is a trend that I expect to continue as people continue to work remotely and companies refine their social strategies. Industry leaders and marketers are leveraging LinkedIn to share high-level, thought leadership pieces of content.
The pandemic has presented numerous challenges to B2B marketers across all industries. It is up to those companies to pivot their strategy to continue to suit their client’s needs in the new normal.
Educational Webinars Will Continue to Rise
- B2B marketers now have limited opportunities to network with prospective buyers. I think educational live webinars offer a unique opportunity for companies to showcase thought leadership and expertise as well as to find and build a new prospect pipeline.
- As B2B marketers turn to webinars to fill the gap left by canceled events and decreased face-to-face contact with prospects, the number of B2B brands running webinar ads has more than doubled from 223 in January to 463 in April. Source: MediaRadar.
- Nearly half of marketers plan to replace at least some live events with webinars. One out of five says they will do so for most of the live events they had planned. Only 17% (primarily companies who participate in 10 or fewer live events annually) have no plans of this type.
How Live Event Marketing Dollars will be Reallocated
Two out of five marketers plan to reallocate unused event marketing dollars to other tactics, primarily content creation, webinars, and search advertising.