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How B2B Marketing Has Changed in 10 Ways Over The Years

the digital evolution in b2b marketing

Table of Contents

 Hey there, fellow marketers! Remember the days when B2B marketing was all about manual sweat and grind? Well, hold onto your hats because the marketing world just did a complete 360-degree spin! 

We're diving headfirst into a digital era where automation tools and digital strategies are turbocharging business processes.

B2B marketing didn't just stop at digital transformation. In fact, there’s been constant marketing evolution in recent years. 


Well then, join us as we uncover the 10 mind-boggling ways B2B marketing has shape-shifted over time! 

how marketing has changed over the years

A lot has changed in B2B marketing within a decade. In fact, for marketers like yourself, staying relevant is more vital than ever before!  

A leading expert with a close experience in B2B marketing changes, David Reid, Sales Director at VEM Tooling, says -

"Having navigated the ever-evolving landscape of B2B marketing, I've witnessed significant shifts in recent years. Personalization has become a cornerstone, tailoring messages and solutions to specific client needs. Technology plays a pivotal role, enabling data-driven insights that refine targeting and engagement strategies.

Content has transformed into a strategic tool, focusing on value-driven education rather than overt promotion. The rise of digital platforms, social media, and influencer partnerships has widened our reach, fostering authentic connections. Customer experience is paramount, with seamless interactions and prompt responses becoming non-negotiable.

Account-based marketing has gained prominence, concentrating efforts on high-value prospects. Collaboration between sales and marketing has intensified, aligning goals and ensuring a unified approach."

So, let us walk you through an elaborated version of what David Reid explained above. 

1. Marketer’s Increased Focus on Buyer Behavior

Whether it's B2C or B2B, customers' buying behavior tends to evolve. It is a side effect of digital advancements. 

Thus, marketers drew more towards understanding their buyer behavior over the years. 

Let's see how B2B marketers adapt and deal with evolving B2B buyer behaviors: 

  • Self-Educated and Empowered Buyers: B2B buyers are increasingly self-educating before engaging with brands. Therefore, marketers focus on delivering them high-quality content such as:
  • Thought leadership posts
  • Whitepapers
  • How-to or product demo videos
  • Case studies, etc.
  • Personalization and Customization: Buyers now expect personalized experiences. Thus, marketers focus more on providing tailored offers to meet prospects' specific preferences.
  • Collaborative Decision-Making: B2B purchases often involve multiple stakeholders with unique priorities and perspectives. Thus, marketers have become careful in
    presenting their offerings that please each stakeholder. 
  • Social Conscious Buyers: 91% of buyers prefer brands that maintain social cause. Thus, we now see several social cause-based marketing in the B2B business world. 

One of the examples is Pernod Ricard, a B2B E-Commerce company that led the #EngageResponsibly campaign. It was against hate speech and the spreading of misinformation on social media platforms.

2. Grown Hyper-personalized B2B Marketing With Digital Channels  

Though the internet came decades ago, marketing via digital platforms only saw a boost in recent years. In fact, marketers are spending over $375 billion on digital advertising. Some of the channels that gained popularity among global B2B marketers are: 

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Email Marketing/Marketing Automation
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Website business queries 
  • Live Chatbot
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Native Advertising
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Online PR

One reason to adopt these channels is to capture prospects' insights through the AI tracking abilities these channels allow. 

In fact, these digital channels help track every click, every view, and every search done by your prospects. Thus, it gives birth to the phenomenon of hyper-personalization. 

The Founder and CEO of Bounce, Cody Candee, explains this phenomenon like- 

"Over the past few years, B2B lead generation was focused on general personalization but over the last few years, with the introduction of AI technology, it has now moved into hyper-personalization. Traditionally, personalization methods were limited to information gathered from basic search engine queries.

Through the use of AI technology, marketers and small business owners can acquire data from social media engagement, business website queries, chatbot interaction, and even live help and then segment that data into an actionable format. From this information, businesses create individual profiles that can be turned into a required hyper-personalized campaign that touches directly on each individual B2B client's pain points and needs."

3. More Reliance On Data Than Ever Before

B2B marketing today comprises measuring the campaign's effectiveness and optimizing it as per the result. Over the years, various data analytics technologies emerged to enhance target marketing. You may already know many of them, such as Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Salesforce

These tools analyze website traffic, lead generation, and sales data in real-time!
 Mainly, these tools provide information on the following: 

  • Channels and campaigns that drive the most significant impact. 
  • Prospect’s pain points analysis.
  • Industry types that are most lucrative for the business to pitch its product or service.

4. The Changed Dynamics Of Sales And Marketing

Previously, the sales and marketing departments’ roles used to be different. But now, these two areas collaborate very closely to achieve the defined target. 

However, such close collaboration between Sales & Marketing is only possible with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems adoption in B2B.

In fact, many leading marketers like yourself use CRM to maintain a centralized customer/prospect database. 

Thus, sales and marketing teams can share and identify qualified prospects that fulfill similar criteria.

For instance, your sales team can provide feedback on which industry they have the highest conversions in. And your marketing department can create customized plans accordingly.

5. Expanded Prevalence Of Automation

Unlike before, automation is key to streamlining operations in the current B2B space. The use of automated solutions for the following is in trend:

  • Lead creation
  • Lead qualification
  • Customer segmentation
  • Analytics and Reporting 

You can find many of your competitors using automated technologies to deliver customized messages to their ideal clients. It saves time and reduces human labor. Moreover, it helps manage:

  • Lead nurturing programs
  • Segment email lists depending on consumer behavior
  • Reports on the success of their marketing initiatives

6. Boosted Emphasis On Account-Based Marketing

Among many other B2B marketing tactics, we saw a growth in Account-Based Marketing (ABM). This marketing tactic commonly helps concentrate on specific high-value clients. Further, it helps tailor marketing tactics to meet those clients' requirements. 

ABM is nothing but a thorough analysis of suitable accounts, followed by personalized messaging creation. An effective ABM strategy provides:

  • Increased revenue
  • Improved client retention rates
  • Produce leads of higher quality

7. Increased Trend Of Online B2B Meets Post Covid

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, or what we can call it Covid-effect is unavoidable for both B2B and B2C marketing. As a marketer, we’re sure you can feel the drastic reduction in the social meetings with your clients. Moreover, 70-80% of B2B decision makers want digital-self service or remote brand interaction. 

Here's what a Forbes 30 under 30 Entrepreneur, and founder of Rephrase Matthew Ramirez, says about B2B evolution- 

"Industries that were once reliant on traditional, in-person sales approaches, such as IT and insurance companies, have been compelled to adapt and embrace the realm of digital marketing in order to effectively connect with their desired clientele. This transformative shift has brought about a profound change in how businesses engage with their target audiences. Conventional marketing strategies, including billboards and door-to-door sales, have noticeably declined in prevalence, making way for the ascendance of social media and digital platforms as the preferred channels for reaching and engaging with target markets."

Thus, marketing approaches in 2023 look way different from 2019. Instead of social events, there is more inclination towards virtual meet and greets. B2B sales interactions are happening through virtual events by using some of the tools like Zoom, Teams, etc. 

8. Inclined Interest in Dark Social Marketing 

Nowadays, you can notice a reviewed interest in Dark Social marketing in the B2B sector. Dark Social refers to social sharing through private channels, such as:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Email
  • Telegram
  • Signal
  • Slack
  • Face-to-face conversations
  • Private Forums and Communities
  • Native Mobile Apps
  • Text Messages (SMS)
  • Private Social Media Groups
  • Direct File Sharing

These channels are not easily trackable by traditional web analytics tools. Marketers may use:

  • URL shorteners with tracking parameters,
  • Implement sharing buttons on websites and apps
  • Rely on referral patterns 

-to estimate dark social traffic.

But, in comparison, dark social marketing is often more organic and authentic than content shared on public platforms. As such, people share the content because they genuinely find value in it. They don’t do it to project a certain brand image or gain social approval.

Interestingly,  more than 70% of all business social shares are dark. Through this tactic, you’ll see marketers like yourself sharing and discussing information without the public scrutiny of social media platforms. Thus, it fosters a sense of intimacy between the customer and the brand.

9. Changed Preference From Sales-led To Product-led Growth

Product-led Growth (PLG) B2B marketing has risen, mainly in SaaS customer acquisition strategy. Hence, instead of sales pitches,  products have become the primary drivers of the following:

  • Customer acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Retention

PLG creates a seamless and user-centric product experience. It empowers users to experience the value of the product directly. As a result, it encourages self-adoption and viral referrals of the product. One of the most famous examples is ChatGPT. 

PLG has the potential to stay longer in the B2B marketing space as it:

  • Drives organic growth
  • Reduces sales friction
  • Increases customer satisfaction

10. Changed Preference From  Sales-led To Solution-led Growth

Besides PLG, Solution-led Growth (SLG) has also gained popularity. It is a strategy that involves:

  • Firstly, understanding customer pain points
  • Then, delivering comprehensive solutions to address those challenges 

SLG goes beyond a single product and offers a holistic marketing approach. It consists of interconnected products/services to meet diverse customers’ needs. 

With this strategy, B2B marketing opens doors to provide end-to-end solutions. SLG aims to achieve the following:

  • Drive customer success
  • Forster Long-term relationships
  • Create value through a comprehensive solution ecosystem

Here we concluded the 10 ways B2B marketing changed over the years. Now, let us move ahead to see current B2B marketing trends. 

5 Burning Trends In B2B Marketing

Burning Trends In B2B Marketing

Knowing the changes or updates in B2B digital marketing is not enough; you must also understand trends. So, here are some of the current trends in B2B marketing that you should be aware of:

1. Linkedin Is Gaining Importance In B2B Marketing

LinkedIn mainly serves businesses and professionals. Over 98% of marketers use LinkedIn to grow their leads. Its capacity to target particular audiences makes it a popular platform for B2B marketing. Several advantages of using LinkedIn for B2B marketing include:

  • The capacity to build a credible brand identity.
  • Networking skills with businesses and professionals.
  • Targeting particular demographics using filters like job title, industry, firm size, etc.
  • Lead generating on LinkedIn using the lead generation forms.
  • Fostering connections with potential partners and customers through platform participation.

2. Competition Is Rising In B2B Content Distribution

Content distribution marketing attracts and engages potential customers with valuable content sharing. 73% of B2B marketers use content marketing. Thus, the competition is only growing higher. Some benefits of B2B content marketing are:

  • Allows you to establish a brand as a thought leader across the industry
  • Increases website traffic and search engine rankings
  • Generates leads through content downloads and sign-ups
  • Builds customer trust and loyalty through valuable content
  • Repurposes content for use in multiple channels and platforms

3. Collaboration With Influencers

Influencer marketing entails collaborating with people with a sizable following on social media or other platforms to advertise your product or service. It raises brand awareness in the best way possible. The following are some advantages of influencer marketing in B2B:

  • Utilizing the influencer's following to reach new audiences.
  • Gaining credibility and trust through influencer endorsement.
  • Generating leads using the influencer's call to action.
  • Adding to the number of followers and interactions on social media.
  • Establishing connections with influential people to work together in the future.

4. Marketing Budgets Are Shifting To Digital Channels

The recent growth of digital marketing directly influences B2B marketing’s increased spending on digital channels. Some of the popular channels include:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media advertising
  • LinkedIn advertising
  • Content syndication
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Some benefits of shifting marketing approaches to digital channels are:

  • Ability to track, analyze, and measure the efficacy of campaigns in real time.
  • Targeting specific audiences through various digital channels.
  • Building a stronger online presence and brand image.
  • Generating leads through targeted campaigns and offers.

5. Use of Strategic Cold Emailing

You've probably noticed that strategic cold email marketing campaigns are rising in the B2B space. It focuses on creating personalized and compelling emails and sending them to prospects unaware of your brand. In fact, it’s a great tool to reach out to prospects and create meaningful connections that lead to conversions nowadays.

Some popular cold email elements are in trend:

  • Custom text, numbers, or questions on subject lines
  • Multi-point personalization of email content (It improves response rates by 142%).
  • Mobile-friendly cold email templates.
  • Time-sensitive methods (Monday and Tuesday and 1 to 3 PM to send cold emails) to send cold emails)
  • Up to 5-targeted cold email follow-ups that highlight:
  • Customer testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Limited edition offers
  • Gentle break up email

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