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For a long time, B2B businesses thought they were marketing their product or services effectively online if they simply had a website. They were not required to have a digital marketing strategy or plan, and they certainly didn’t allocate any budget towards it as they were focused more on outbound marketing. As technology advanced and subsequently, businesses and clients began to become more informed through leveraging the Internet, the evolution of B2B marketing begun. Organisations began to face increased competition within their industries, and they were forced to be savvier and more present online. Further, clients began to leverage the internet to collect information before making a deal – checking reviews and accessing the online presence of companies to determine their credibility. There was no longer anywhere for businesses to hide.Digital marketing is undeniably one of the most significant evolutions in the B2B marketing industry since its inception. The Internet has opened many doors for marketers around the globe, and the only successful way to leverage its opportunity is through knowledge of its capabilities and a strategic plan to execute them. B2C companies have been in riding the digital marketing train for a while, but B2B businesses have now been forced to also jump on the train.As we navigate a global pandemic and lockdown restrictions that have changed how consumers buy, many businesses have had to lean on digital marketing to remain active and present to their customers. Face-to-face interactions and some outbound marketing strategies are neither possible nor effective under our current circumstances. Some might say that the years of leveraging digital marketing prior to today have prepared us to deal with the changes that COVID-19 has bought upon us.

The Evolution of B2B Marketing: Then

Historically, B2B marketing involved relationship building through face-to-face meetings and word-of-mouth. These historic strategies are still crucial for Sales and Marketing teams today, not only because they are effective, but they are free. Previously, companies were also operating within a business market. With little competition, businesses and corporations had the upper hand and therefore, a lot more control over the market.

The Evolution of B2B Marketing: Now

Today, we operate in the age of the consumer. The power has shifted. Consumer demands dictate decisions about what to sell and where to sell it. Therefore, B2B companies that want to be successful have to pan to consumer demand. This brought about a lot of change to companies and how they operated, which subsequently impacted how their products or services were marketed. We now operate in a time where clients have so much choice. It is up to businesses to determine how they are going to stand out. So, what are the most adopted and effective digital marketing strategies?

1. Content Marketing

Many B2B companies are now aware of the importance of maintaining a reputation online. This can be done through a wide range of digital platforms and channels but is only possible through content marketing. This includes creating blogs, articles, whitepapers and video that businesses can share and promote through social media and other digital channels to position their company as an expert within their industry and gives them credibility. If you are interested in learning more about content marketing, check out our previous blog: Standing Out with B2B Content Marketing.

2. Website

Consumers today have much higher expectations then they did twenty years ago – even five years ago – and these expectations are constantly shifting. Clients today determine the credibility of a business based on their presence online. Your website is representative of your brand, your mission and vision and is a customer’s one-stop-shop to learn about your company. Your website must be mobile responsive, have clear call-to-actions and be easy to navigate while also incorporating Search Engine Optimisation so you can rank highly on search engines. If you are looking for ways to improve your businesses website, check out our previous blog: 5 Ways to Revitalise your B2B Website.

3. Data

With the rise of digital marketing comes more access to data. Marketing has become so strategic and smart. Think about cookies, digital advertising, social listening – technology today gives companies a much deeper insight into the behaviours of clients. This allows B2B companies to provide their customers with the information that they want to be seeing across their channels, which ensures they remain happy with your services and the content they are receiving. Data also allows your B2B business to conduct detailed reporting, which can inform budget allocations and overall campaign success. For more information on how you can use data, check out our previous blog: How your B2B Business can Leverage Data more Effectively.

The Evolution of B2B Marketing: 2024

In 2024, B2B marketing continues to evolve. With the continuing advancement of technology and the ongoing digital transformation of industries, B2B marketers are having to adapt and innovate at an unprecedented pace. Traditional methods like cold calling and trade shows have long-since given way to data-driven strategies, personalised content, and account-based marketing (ABM) approaches. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are becoming increasingly integral to optimising marketing campaigns, providing more precise targeting, and enhancing the customer experience.There’s no denying that as a result of the evolution of B2B marketing, the industry today looks very different from what it has looked like historically. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of this new era, understanding the evolution of B2B marketing in 2024 is essential for businesses looking to stay competitive and relevant in an increasingly digital world.If you have any questions about this article or are seeking more information, please contact one of our digital marketing specialists. If your business is looking for advice on how to commence their digital marketing journey, please contact us.

Editors Note: This post was originally published in July 2020 and has been updated in 2024 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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