Eight marketing trends in B2B 2023

The "data-driven marketing" love story continues. Marketing teams are still thirsty for data and insights - and automation and data integration are still at the top of the to-do list. Matthias Schneider from Dun & Bradstreet names eight marketing trends for B2B in 2023.

The hunger for information in marketing is far from satisfied. The journey toward data-driven marketing will continue unabated in 2023. The primary goal is to identify the best possible sales potential, including risk analysis and the creation of a 360-degree view. The topic of third-party cookies and their stop in Chrome is also still on the table. Google has postponed the deadline again, this time to 2024.

Marketing Trend #0: Data Drivenness on the Rise

Data Drivenness is our "Trend Zero". This is where it all begins in marketing: the appetite for data and insights, and even more so the ravenous appetite for performance and conversion. Data driven, however, is not an end in itself, but has become the panacea on the road to efficiency. Tell me how data-driven you are, and I'll tell you how successful you are.

The Marketing Tech Landscape 2022 (Graphic: Chiefmartec.com)

Data Drivenness will continue to increase this year. The number of MarTech tools is increasing, as is the amount of data. The methods of gaining insights from it are also getting better and better. Data Drivenness has the task of increasing the efficiency of marketing, the ROI. It does this on two levels. On the one hand, data makes it possible to address the right target persons and groups in a relevant and personal way; on the other hand, it makes it possible to automate and digitize. Where processes run automatically, the degree of manual work decreases. But there is no other way to manage complex marketing machinery.

Marketing Trend #1: Third Party Cookies

The discussion about third party cookies is a perennial topic within the marketing community. Or as Ralf Strauss, editor of the Marketing Tech Monitors, expresses it: "Google is shooing us away". Again and again, the date is postponed. From the second half of 2024, Chrome will probably definitely no longer allow the use of third-party cookies. "Assume that third party cookies are gone," Strauss continued. For companies, it will be important to build their own audiences and populate them with content.

Third party cookies in Google Chrome, coming to an end in 2024. (Image: Unsplash.com)

Marketing Trend #2: Content Marketing

If content marketing was ever dead, it's experiencing a revival in 2024. This comes in part as a result of the "third party cookie" issue and building your own reach. If I have my own audience - people who give me permission to share content with them on a marketing basis - then I have to think about which story to play to which target person.

Relevance instead of mass is the basic principle here. It makes zero sense to play everything out to everyone. It's more effective to send the relevant content to the right target person. Keyword data-driven.

Marketing Trend #3: Data Analysis

In order to get relevance into content marketing or campaigns in general, it is imperative that I analyze my data. Which brings us to the next trend: data analysis of your own first party data. It's all about identifying the valuable companies in the CRM data set. This helps me to drive growth within the existing customer base, but also to create the basis for attracting ideal new customers.

So it's all about quality instead of quantity. Today, no one can afford to spend sales resources and time on the wrong prospects. This leads to idle time and frustration - and at the end of the day to a poor result.

Marketing trend #4: Golden Record and 360-degree view

A core aspect of Data Drivenness is the creation of a 360-degree view of customers and interested parties. It is therefore about the "golden record" and the consolidation of data. This includes duplicate management as well as breaking down data silos by using a unique identifier. Consolidate all data to the one and right company is the motto of data management. If employees have no knowledge of a customer interaction in channel XY, then that's a problem.

An important to-do in marketing 2023: Have a 360-degree view of customers and prospects and bring together all data from all touch points. (Image: Unsplash.com)

Master data governance is becoming increasingly important in this context to consolidate data and map the 360-degree view of business partners. SAP's governance tool is an example of this. It helps to set guidelines within organizations as to which criteria data must meet and ensures implementation.

Marketing Trend #5: Risk Management

Even Sun Tzu knew: "He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will be victorious." This leads us directly to the fifth marketing trend, risk management. Successful marketing and sales teams engage exclusively with leads that they know - or have a high probability of believing - will result in a deal. In practice, these are companies with a current interest and short sales cycle.

But successful sales teams only deal with companies that are solvent and adhere to compliance requirements. A deal with a business partner who does not pay or who turns out to be acting unethically quickly turns out to be a defeat. They sort out high-risk leads before sending them on to sales. Potential business partners are screened manually using data and information or in an automated onboarding process. Here, too, the keyword is data-driven.

Marketing Trend #6: AI and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have now established themselves as lead generation methods. The whole thing is called smart data analytics and promises to generate leads with an accuracy of up to 90 percent in the B2B sector. Which do you prefer? Searching for a needle in a haystack or endlessly phoning lists in the hope that someone won't turn you away? Or working a list where three quarters of the contacts or more have an interest?

Smart Data Analytics is based on AI and Machine Learning. In an iterative process, an algorithm searches for companies with specific interests and criteria. Feedback on accuracy is fed back into the process, improving the quality of the leads with each iteration. Data-driven, that is.

Marketing Trend #7: Automation and Data Integration

As trivial as it sounds, automating processes is and will remain one of the main tasks of data-driven marketing. A core aspect of this is data integration. Björn Gerster, Director Marketing Consulting DACH at Dun & Bradstreet, sums it up as follows: "The companies that come to us have understood that further external data will take them further." It's all about making the right decisions and identifying the most promising sales potential.

For each use case, companies need very specific external data. Once they have been identified, the next step is to integrate them into the systems and processes. Very often, IT resources are very scarce. That's why the plug-and-play principle in the form of standard connectors is becoming increasingly popular. They enable quick and easy integration to the most common marketing tools such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Hubspot, Marketo and many more. The end result is an automated process based on valid and correct data. Data-driven, that is.

Marketing Trend #8: The Battle for the Marketing Budget

In crises, or when things are not going well, the marketing budget is usually the first to be cut. CEOs are usually reluctant to spend money even in "normal" times. What they hate is flying blind. This makes it all the more important as a CMO to present the right arguments and airtight evidence in the discussions.

When it comes to budget negotiations, those marketing leaders who have implemented clean attribution models have the best cards in their hands. They can prove in black and white that their measures are successful. Even better: which campaign results in which business transaction. Data-driven, that is.

* Matthias Schneider has been a content marketer at Dun & Bradstreet in Zurich for six years and writes articles on marketing, sales and data management.

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