In Part One of 5 B2B Customer Trends to Plan for In 2021, we covered the rising demand for a better customer experience (CX) across all digital channels. While some of digital’s growing importance came about as a result of Covid 19 quarantining, much can also be attributed to the organic growth of mobile device usage. Currently, the average American spends more than 3.5 hours per day on mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). What’s more, over 50 percent of Americans use mobile devices to discover new products and brands and 75 percent expect to receive immediate information. Next, we revealed how the increasing use of automation makes scaling highly personalized account based marketing (ABM) campaigns not only possible, but doable. This week, we’ll explore three more trends that promise to dominate the B2B marketing landscape in 2021, as well as how you can prepare your team to adapt and win.

Trend #3: Messaging Is Critical to Your Marketing Campaign Success

If you have added SMS (text messages), MMS (multi-media messages), or one of the popular messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat) to your lineup of marketing channels for sending personalized campaigns, then you are on track with your customer’s communication expectations. According to Statista, there were 2.65 billion people using social media worldwide in 2018. Now, fast forward to 2021, where it is projected that there will be 3.1 billion Facebook Messenger users globally — and that’s just one messaging app. What’s even more astonishing to note is that Facebook Messenger is only the second most popular messaging app. WhatsApp is currently number one.

Messaging Rivals Email in Customer Preferences and Reach

Messages are now better than email when it comes to reaching your customers and prospects. Whereas email has a five to 10 percent open rate and a one percent click-through rate; messages have an 80 percent open rate and a 20 percent click-through rate. Your customers have grown accustomed to the instant gratification that messages provide in their personal lives and now expect the same level of brevity and value in their business lives.  To remain competitive, make sure you give it to them.

Prep Steps for Getting Your Messages Out There

  1. Ensure SMS and MMS are in your marketing campaign lineup. Adding messaging to your marketing mix is a relatively quick and painless experience. If you have a marketing automation platform (MAP), like Eloqua or Marketo, then you can use a pre-built integration, such as Sureshot SMS/MMS to integrate your preferred messaging app.
  2. Prep your data for mobile world domination. Naturally, to send customers and prospects your latest mobile campaigns, you’ll need their latest numbers. If you aren’t using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) already to keep your data in a perpetually ready state, get one. The best CDPs have built-in integrations with third party data providers, so you can get the 411 you want, the second you want it.
  3. Put bots at your customer’s beck and call. Just as automation makes it possible to send personalized campaigns to everyone on your list, chatbots make it possible to respond quickly to everyone who contacts your company via a messaging app. According to digital marketing thought leader, Ross Simmonds, “B2B marketers should understand that chatbots on Facebook could be just as important for them as it is for a B2C brand.” For use cases on how you can capitalize on the efficiency and economy of chatbots, check out Simmon’s blog about best B2B use cases for bots.

Trend #4 Picture Your Product Catalog as a Google Search

This next rising trend is a real game-changer — Google Lens. It’s basically an app that let’s your camera operate as a search tool. According to the site, “Google Lens lets you search what you see. Using a photo, your camera or almost any image, Lens helps you discover visually similar images and related content, gathering results from all over the internet.” A real-world scenario of how this might work for a B2B is: a customer takes a picture of a product or part and presses the Google Lens icon and Google immediately compiles a list of where that product is available for sale, user reviews and other relevant content.

Prep Steps for Using Google Lens to Your Advantage

  1. Create a detailed visual catalog of your products. Hire a good photographer to catalog everything in your online inventory. Make sure the images you post and host are mobile-friendly, compressed for faster loading times, and feature alt tags and keywords that describe the image. You may also want to include metadata, such as contact and licensing information.
  2. Create an image sitemap. According to Google, creating a separate image sitemap and “Adding images to the sitemap helps Google discover images that [it] might not otherwise find (such as images your site reaches with JavaScript code).”
  3. Help your customers become users. Be sure to include theGoogle Lens app in your online catalog, so that customers can discover how easy it is to find the product or part they need with just one photo.

Trend #5: The Increase of Video Usage in the Buyer Journey

By now, Zoom and Facetime have made even the least camera-savvy of us comfortable with using video, so it should come as no surprise that this tried-and-true marketing tool is on the rise again. In fact, the digital marketing consultants at V3B recently shared that:

  • 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout their customer journey
  • 71% of marketers used video content last year, a 10% increase from the previous year
  • 53% of tech B2B buyers found video content most useful when researching a purchase

Prep Steps for Including More Video in Your Marketing

  1. Keep it short and simple. The attention span of the average customer is short, so create a loose script, time its delivery, and edit it down until it is succinct. Here’s what the experts at YumYum Videos recommend:
  • Tutorial Videos:  45 to 90 seconds
  • Creative Commercials: 15 to 59 seconds
  • Testimonial Videos: 60 to 119 seconds
  • Explainer Videos: 60 to 90 seconds
  • Instagram Videos: 15 to 30 seconds
  • Instagram Story Video: 15 to 45 seconds
  • Facebook Organic Video: Up to 90 seconds
  • Facebook Story Video: Up to 20 seconds
  • Facebook Video Ad: Up to 15 seconds

2. Hire a pro. If you are uncomfortable in front of the camera, chances are everyone else is uncomfortable watching you battle nerves while trying to be compelling. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional video company to script and film (or animate) the video for you. Prices and turnaround are fairly quick and economical these days.