trends b2b marketing

B2B Marketing Automation Trends to Watch in 2022

Article Outline

Our recent State of Marketing Automation report found that B2B marketers use automation to streamline marketing and sales efforts (38%), improve customer experience (34%), and improve customer engagement (28%). However, only 20% say they’re using automation tools to their fullest potential. Perhaps an eye toward important B2B marketing automation trends is the next step for improving adoption and optimal use of your software tools. 

Understand Behavioral Data to Provide a More Personalized Marketing Experience

Sending emails, using social media, and many other tasks are made easier with marketing automation, but it’s not just about making routine jobs more streamlined. It’s about multiplying the results. The real power lies in the ability to forge more authentic and meaningful relationships through personalization. 

According to recent research, the majority of prospects (71%) say they feel frustrated with impersonal brand experiences. Moreover, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that provides personalized experiences.

For example, account-based marketing allows companies to focus campaigns on very specific prospects who are identified ahead of time. Take Computer Sciences Corporation, which provides information technology and professional services. Using marketing automation, the company built various ad campaigns that were tactically designed to target — and then retarget — specific accounts, using strategically developed content across a variety of channels. Overall, this campaign led to a 58% increase in page views and moved more prospects along the sales cycle.

The role of marketing automation in creating these types of personalized experiences will be even more important in the future. Marketers can get very precise about understanding prospects’ and customers’ behaviors by tracking behavior and deploying strategies to act on insights faster.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Continue to Connect the Dots 

If you’re stuck at {First.Name} personalization, you’re not alone. Over half of digital marketing leaders (63%) struggle with personalization. However, only 17% use AI and machine learning to assist in the process, so it’s no wonder the effort stalls out. Gartner recommends that companies should “focus on addressing long standing personalization challenges by channeling their existing collection and use of customer data toward customer needs that align with business goals.”

Machine learning allows you to capture data about users and online behaviors. Automation empowers you to sort that data. Various areas can be improved through machine learning and marketing automation, including:

  • Harnessing real-time responses. Marketing automation platforms like Act-On can predict the best times to engage with specific types of buyers, leveraging previous behaviors and actions to pinpoint the optimal time for send an email, for example 
  • Identifying “micro-segments” of customers. Machine learning allows you to spot patterns faster and at scale. It can find small micro-segments of customers with shared interests and needs, connecting the dots in areas that traditional marketing methods are slow to recognize.
  • Testing conventional wisdom. Machine learning allows you to test conventional wisdom and assumptions, and tap into prescriptive advice. It does the “heavy lifting” so that you can focus more energy on creative and strategic tasks.

Capabilities around machine learning and marketing automation will only become more sophisticated in the future, allowing marketers to engage with the right audience, at the right time, and with the right level of personalization.

Live Video is Exploding and Crosses Over Into Automation

Live video has become a rising trend in B2B content marketing with the increase in social media platforms that offer this feature. A few key facts about this type of video include:

  • The live streaming industry grew 99% between April 2019 and April 2020.
  • 96% percent of people report they’ve viewed an explainer video to discover more about a product or a service.
  • 47% of live streaming video viewers worldwide are watching more live videos than a year ago.
  • Companies that use video report 41% more traffic from searches.
  • Nearly half of consumers (40%) report that video increases the chance that they’ll purchase a product on their mobile device.

B2B companies can start to experiment with using live video in conjunction with marketing automation, putting out the content that prospects demand and gleaning valuable insights from how they watch and interact with that content. As a result, you can make marketing efforts more precise, further driving more leads and sales for your company.

Automation Fosters Greater Channel Integration

Customers today have more channels to choose from when engaging with a brand, and while using these channels, they expect to receive a consistent brand experience. In fact, multi-channel campaigns that integrate four or more digital channels are shown to outperform a single- or dual-channel campaign by 300%, according to Gartner Research. But the key is getting these interactions right.

Marketing automation helps push out consistent content through all channels and reach customers with greater impact. What’s more, you can gain insights and capture a detailed story about what’s going on with your customers in the moment of relevance, to create even better content in the future.

As a result, every customer experience can be tailored to the channel that customers prefer and to where they are in the buying cycle, delivering a more personalized and relevant experience through the power of automation.

Content Marketing and Automation Create an Unstoppable Duo

Marketing automation and content marketing are a powerful duo which allow you the opportunity to expand the effectiveness of your content, capture more leads, improve conversion rates, and drive higher return on investment.

Marketing automation provides the tools required to get to know customers better. Using this information, you can segment customers into different groups and then start to develop content strategies for each set of customers.

Tapping into specific data on each group ― from understanding where they access content about your products and services to the types of search queries they’re creating ― is very valuable. Having the ability to generate these reports and make changes in a more efficient manner empowers marketers to stay nimble and better meet customer needs. As a result, you can nurture leads or move customers more effectively through the sales cycle.

Equally important, once you truly understand a group of buyers, you can modify and fine-tune marketing strategies to respond to their demands. The right content is delivered quickly, and sometimes you can even deliver the content slightly before the need, which helps move the sales cycle forward.

User Experience is Shaped Through Marketing Automation Insights

No matter how trends in B2B marketing automation change, user experience remains at the heart of every product’s success. When marketing automation works well, it enhances the user experience. For example, let’s say that you recently sent out an email blast to prospects, encouraging them to visit your website and learn more about your product. If they click on the email link, it’s important that they view website content that is most relevant to their needs, such as case studies about their specific industry or other valuable details.

Marketing automation data plays an important role in ensuring that what the customers view is customized to their needs, and in ensuring that the experience on the website is relevant to where the customers are in the buying cycle.

Gathering data about prospects, and better understanding that data, helps leverage the power of personalization so that you only present the most relevant content. 

Marketing automation has proven itself to be a powerful asset in the marketer’s toolbox, but in the future, it won’t be enough to have the tool itself; you’ll need to implement best practices and optimize your use of the full power of your marketing tech stack. 

These trends in B2B marketing can help inspire your strategy moving forward, as you integrate and test different methods for using marketing automation to connect with, engage, and delight your customers in new ways. As a result, you’ll gain the ability to manage leads and improve demand generation with greater impact.

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