B2B marketing has evolved tremendously in the past few years and content has played a central role in this transformation. The past two years have been quite challenging for B2B businesses with the pandemic changing the landscape in an unprecedented way, though content marketing has kept many businesses afloat. But a new year is just around the corner again and hopes are rising.
According to market forecasts, content marketing is set to grow by $417.85 billion between 2021 and 2025. That is a CAGR of nearly 16%. This is the time to start planning what you can do with your B2B content marketing strategy to achieve better results next year and for years after that. Knowing the B2B content marketing trends for 2022 that will be in vogue throughout the year is the first step here.
To help you with it, here are the top B2B content marketing trends for 2022 that you should take into consideration.
1. Automation in B2B content creation is going to be big
Content marketing thrives on great content. But creating great content has become increasingly complex and effort intensive every passing year. There are multiple channels that marketers need to create content for today. From blogs to social media, videos for platforms like YouTube and audio content for podcasts, the arena is getting bigger and bigger.
With so much content to be created and distributed, content marketers have their hands full, which is why automation in content marketing is growing into a huge space. Content creation process and content generation are two critical areas in need for automation. A number of software tools are now targeting this space to make content creators and teams’ lives easier.
Content marketers are focusing more and more on content process automation where tools like Narrato and Notion are proving to be extremely helpful.
Narrato is a content creation, collaboration and workflow management platform that lets you automate and manage your content creation process. Narrato at its core is a solid content workflow and team management platform, with awesome content creation tools like an AI writing assistant, idea generator, image search and a freelancer management module. It’s project and content management features include content views ranging from folders-based content organization, Kanban boards, lists to content calendars. Narrato’s goal is to make content creation and collaboration effortless, and I must say it does a pretty good job at it. There are, of course, specialized workflow management solutions available though.
Notion is another useful tool that is helping content marketers better manage their content creation and marketing efforts. With a lot of customizability at hand and templates to fall back on, Notion is especially useful for creating Wikis and some basic content project management dashboards.
Content creation is getting a speedier facelift with technologies like Natural Language Processing and Generation (NLP and NLG). OpenAI’s GPT-3 (an AI-based autoregressive language model that can produce human-like text) has made waves in the NLG space with AI writing becoming mainstream.
Technologies like these are going to find much wider use in content marketing in 2022.
2. Original research and case studies
B2B content marketing caters to a very different audience compared to B2C businesses. The audience here is mostly businesses looking for effective products and solutions for very specific use. To appeal to such an audience that already has some knowledge in their field, original research-based content is found to be more impactful. In a B2B buyer behavior study back in 2020, 52% of buyers considered informative content like case studies and product data sheets to be very important and only 4% said such content has no impact.
Source: DemandGen Report
Original research, case studies, white papers, etc. give actual data and statistics that buyers find easier to trust. This kind of content shows that the business has put in the effort to prove a point. Such fact-based content can also get B2B marketers more inbound links from other sites on the internet. This is going to be an important 2022 B2B content marketing trend that marketers must implement for success.
It is important though, that the research and case studies are presented in a more accessible and user-friendly format so that tracking metrics becomes easier, and it’s possible to attract a larger audience.
3. Customer retention
Retention marketing is not a new concept but it is definitely gaining more popularity in the B2B sector of late. B2B marketers have understood the importance of cross-selling and upselling, as competition in the industry grows every year. Customer retention will be a prime focus of the B2B content marketing trends for 2022.
Maintaining customer relationships, retargeting existing customers with valuable content and rewarding customer loyalty are going to be some of the key areas to work on for B2B marketing teams. The B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022, by Content Marketing Institute, reveals that 78% of B2B marketers have been able to build loyalty with existing customers using a successful content marketing strategy. So it is highly likely that this trend of loyalty-building content will carry on in 2022 as well.
4. Mobile-first strategy
Mobile optimization is usually seen as a B2C content marketing strategy, but more and more B2B brands are now adopting a mobile-first strategy as well. Particularly after the pandemic, being accessible across all channels and all devices has become imperative for businesses. A McKinsey research shows that nearly 70% to 80% of B2B buyers and decision-makers prefer remote interactions and self-service options after the pandemic.
So a mobile-first approach is going to be on the priority list of most B2B vendors and marketers in 2022. A mobile-first strategy is a 2022 B2B content marketing trend that is likely to increase buyer engagement and reduce lead, helping B2B marketers and sales teams close deals faster.
5. Micro-influencer marketing
The B2B audience is limited if you compare it with the B2C audience. The target market being smaller, influencer marketing does not fit in very well into the b2B content marketing strategy and marketers have realized this of late. Influencers usually have a very diverse following and that does not necessarily help in the kind of targeting that B2B businesses need. Also, influencer marketing is becoming cost- and effort-intensive. But what can be useful for B2B content marketing is micro-influencer marketing.
One of the promising B2B content marketing trends for 2022 is going to be collaborating with micro-influencers and using their reach. Micro-influencers are those influencers who have a small but highly targeted following. And according to statistics, micro-influencer campaigns drive 60% higher engagement and are 6.7 times more cost-effective than other campaigns.
Micro-influencers have a loyal following in their niche, so finding a micro-influencer who can advocate your brand could give you access to a very specific audience in 2022.
6. Brand personalization
Another major trend for 2022 that was so far considered a strategy mostly for the B2C realm, is brand personalization. B2B content marketers today are increasingly trying to create their own brand voice that resonates with their audience. Instead of treating client interactions as business deals, they are now trying to humanize their interactions. B2B marketers identify the audience persona and try to figure out what kind of a brand voice this persona would expect from the business.
In the State of The Connected Customer Report by Salesforce, 84% of B2B customers are more likely to buy from brands that understand their goals.
A good example of B2B content personalization is what YourSales, a sales outsourcing, and consulting company, did to improve their sales conversations. According to an article on Leadfeeder, YourSales used Leadfeeder to gather data on who visited their website. They then used the Mailchimp plugin with Leadfeeder to view the website activity of visitors who have opted in. They tracked activities like what content the visitor has viewed. With all this information, the sales team at YourSales could personalize their conversations with highly relevant opening lines based on what the prospect has shown interest in.
This is essential for all B2B marketers in this age of competition. For instance, a SaaS vendor cannot pitch its product the same way a corporate catering company would pitch its services. Each B2B business has to have its own brand voice and personality, just as B2C brands do. This realization is starting to dawn upon content marketers. So, creating awesome brand content is a 2022 B2B content marketing trend you cannot ignore.
7. Animated and short-form videos
According to the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report by CMI, Video is going to be the top area of investment for B2B content marketing in 2022.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
But we already know video content is in vogue. So how does that make it a new trend? The trend actually is not just creating marketing videos, but focusing more on short-form videos and animated videos for B2B marketing.
Short-form videos are effective for engaging both B2C and B2B audiences. Vidyard’s 2021 Video Benchmark Report says that almost 50% of viewers are hooked to a video only if it is less than a minute long. Animated videos are also found to be extremely engaging, particularly in complex industries like software. Animated explainer videos and how-to videos are making life easier for both vendors and end-users. So for marketers who still haven’t finalized their video marketing strategy for the year ahead, this B2B content marketing trend for 2022 is going to be crucial.
8. Social media marketing
When it comes to B2B content marketing, social media is not usually seen as one of the preferred channels. That perception, though, is slowly but surely changing. Both organic and paid social media marketing are now seen as an important content distribution channel for B2B marketers. LinkedIn is the top social media platform for B2B content marketing. The professional networking site gives B2B marketers access to a wide and specific audience, which is not always possible with other platforms like Facebook or Instagram though they have more users.
82% of B2B marketers are reported to find greater success with LinkedIn marketing compared to other social media platforms. Regular postings by scheduling LinkedIn posts can be done to gain visibility and attract customers. Ad exposure on LinkedIn has also given brands a 33% increase in purchase intent from prospects. Other platforms like Twitter and Facebook are also catching up.
Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Going by these statistics, leveraging social media platforms is set to be a key B2B content marketing trend in 2022.
9. Customer-centric content
B2B content marketing is seeing a growing inclination towards understanding customer psychology. This has always been a critical aspect of B2C marketing and is now finding its place in B2B as well. Understanding the psychology of decision-makers, key contact persons, and users in B2B content marketing allows marketers to adopt a customer-centric marketing strategy. The focus is shifting from topic-based to persona-based content that tries to address the target audience’s interests and needs.
According to statistics, creating buyer personas helps businesses generate higher quality leads, shorten their sales cycles, and exceed lead and revenue goals. B2B content marketers are realizing this and cashing in on this opportunity by creating customer-focused content. Expect to see a lot more persona-driven B2B content in 2022.
10. Thought leadership pieces
The purpose of content marketing has always been the same – delivering value. But delivering value to a B2B audience is all the more challenging as they are usually quite up-to-date with industry news and know-how. This is why B2B content marketers today are focusing more on thought leadership pieces. Subject matter experts, graphic designers, and SEO strategists are being hired to create high-quality content that is insightful, original, and relevant.
The sheer amount of time and effort that creating thought leadership pieces involves is prompting more and more B2B businesses to outsource such tasks to experienced content agencies. This allows marketers to focus purely on marketing while expert content writers at the agencies take care of the content.
Thought leadership content helps B2B companies stand out in an otherwise saturated field. B2B content marketing trends for 2022 will encourage a lot of proprietary reports, business guides, webinars, and more from marketers.
11. Real-time marketing
Real-time marketing refers to following data from various channels in real-time and responding immediately to grab sales opportunities. Real-time marketing helps marketers recommend products, services or even content that prospects might need right now, at the moment. we have seen many examples of this marketing strategy in the B2C context, but it is making its way into B2B marketing as well.
An example of creating real-time marketing content for B2B content could be this. Let’s say you are a cybersecurity solutions provider for businesses. If there is news of a major data breach somewhere, like the 2020 attack on three major firms in the U.S. – Microsoft, SolarWinds, and VMWare, you can grab this opportunity by reacting immediately. By publishing content that tells prospects how to protect their data or why cybersecurity measures are important can help you promote your business, while also adding some value for your audience.
This is what real-time marketing looks like. This 2022 B2B content marketing trend is going big and marketers need to be aware of it.
12. Gamification and interactive content
Audiences today expect more from brands. Interactive content is gradually becoming the norm. Immersive experiences like AR and VR or gamification can drive customer engagement and help explain product features and functionalities better. B2B content marketers need to start experimenting with such content allowing prospects to spend more time with the content.
Liveperson, a company that develops conversational commerce and AI software, created a campaign named “Snap Your Digital Engagement Selfie”. The campaign involved a short 10-question quiz related to the customer’s business. At the end of the quiz, the app would generate a “selfie” of what their business looks like and tips on how to improve it. It served several purposes like keeping potential customers engaged on the site, delivering value for them by giving them a self-assessment opportunity, and offering solutions.
Experiential, immersive, and interactive content will be trending in B2B content marketing in 2022 and beyond.
B2B content marketing is likely to see some massive changes in 2022 owing to the impact of the pandemic on the business landscape. To add to it changes in user behavior and advancements in technology will bring about some developments that all marketers need to be prepared for. These B2B content marketing trends for 2022 should give you a heads up, so you are ready to compete with others in your industry and outrank them with a solid marketing strategy to your credit.