The B2B business landscape is changing worldwide, as the world is affected by the impact of COVID-19. Companies are changing how they carry out marketing and communicate with their customers.
A lot of our B2B customers who were preparing to go to trade shows had to make last-minute cancellations or face postponement of events. Tens of thousands of dollars dedicated to those trade shows were refunded or held up, in many cases.
Some of the businesses, however, are quick to change gears and adapt from trade shows and in-person meetings to digital channels.
B2B companies and marketers have increased their digital marketing budgets by 30-100%.
Here’s how the B2B Marketing Landscape looks like, at present:
A. Opportunities Lost
About 9400 B2B exhibitions are held annually in the U.S., as per a report by Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
Data intelligence company PredictHQ indicated that due to novel coronavirus scare, there was a 500% increase in cancellation and postponement of major B2B events.
As per CEIR, from about 2500 B2B events held every year from Mar 1st to May 15th, about 50-80 per cent have already been cancelled or will likely cancel soon this year. This is expected to lead to a loss of $14-12 billion in show organizer revenue combined with direct spending by exhibitors and attendees.
There are also increased barriers to face-to-face interactions, therefore, customer relation has become challenging for B2B companies that do not have a digital infrastructure in place.
Digital is likely to be a clear winner for B2B companies. Programmatic advertising, Search Ads, SEO, social ads, content marketing and influencer marketing will be the key to survival and success from now on.
The impact of COVID-19 will forever change how businesses interact with their clients. Businesses are developing digital infrastructures to stay in touch with their clients and employees.
Even when things get back to normal and businesses start attending trade shows again, digital infrastructures and marketing channels will keep playing an important part in how businesses conduct their communication in the future.
Digital marketing will help make businesses resilient to situations like pandemics and other contingencies.
B. Reallocation of Funds
Trends show that B2B businesses used to spend 40 to 60 percent of their marketing budget on industry exhibitions and trade shows. They spent only about 8% of their budget on digital marketing.
Now, with the changing realities of the business environment, B2B marketers are looking for new ways to spend their marketing budget. Various companies have made a quick move to increase their digital marketing budgets by 30-100%.
This is helping businesses reach their customers who inevitably have higher screen time these days.
Digital marketing is a great way to stay in the minds of your potential customers in this time of isolation.
A good marketing strategy with apt marketing messages can make a high impact on your business’ survival and growth.
When businesses get to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential that they have done enough to retain or improve their brand’s position and image.
C. Lead Generation
As face-to-face meetings and trade shows were the prime source of lead generation for B2B businesses, they are now using online advertisement, both search and programmatic ads, to generate leads digitally.
Other digital marketing tactics include SEO, social ads and influencer marketing.
For companies who think that their industries are not digitally mature should consult their digital marketing partners and consultants to get actual numbers on the size of their market online.
Often, for various industries, there are high volumes of product searches online, especially in times like the present, when users have limited offline accessibility to products and equipment at physical locations.
If your industry has high online search and content browsing volumes, then there is a high potential for you to convert that customer base before your competitors do.
Talk to your digital marketing agency to walk you through various digital marketing tactics that may work for you.
D. Revamp Your Digital Presence
Generally, marketers are occupied with various pressing tasks and are forced to put their own company’s website and digital presence on the back burner.
Now that there are virtually no trade shows and exhibitions, B2B marketers finally have the time to look at their digital infrastructure—website, landing pages, Advertisement channels, marketing messages, digital lead generation opportunities, social media pages, and communication templates and technology.
Creating a digital strategy with the right messages can help businesses generate leads and create brand awareness.
This channel of lead generation, once developed, can help businesses in the long run to cut their cost per lead.
E. Focus Areas in Digital Marketing Strategy
Here are a few areas where marketers can focus while planning their marketing strategy:
- Website: Identify your brand message and update your website’s design and content to reflect that message. Create optimal landing pages on the website to capture leads.
- SEO: Optimize your website for search engines, so that people searching for your products and equipment online are able to find you.
- Paid Search Ads: As SEO activities take some time to show results, invest in paid search activities to be on top of search engine results to reach your customers. This is also a good tactic to occupy a large space on the first page of search engines to get an edge over your competitors. This tactic helps capture low-funnel potential customers.
- Targeted Display Ads: Programmatic ads help you reach customers who are searching for and reading about your products and industry. A display ad is more likely to be remembered by a viewer for a long time. This is a great tactic to improve brand awareness and positioning and generate website traffic and leads.
- Social Media Ads: Social media ads on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can help B2B marketers reach potential clients with a specific demographic.
Other areas to focus on while working on your digital marketing strategy are Videos, content marketing, and press releases.
Digital marketing can help stabilize your marketing and communication infrastructure for long term, making your business resilient. It will also likely create a low-cost channel of leads for your business.