Trend 1: The expectation of ‘simplified technicalities’ for B2B customers

Younger, digital-first B2B audiences want experiences and messaging that mirror their B2C journeys. These age cohorts expect a tone of voice and marketing approach that is easy, human-centric, more visual, offers data-driven insights and understands the primarily digital nature of their businesses.

In 2023, B2B sales language will become simpler, imagery will become more engaging and interactive, and channels will transcend beyond professional (such as Linkedin) into personal (Facebook / Instagram / Discord).

Explore our report on Language Matters and how words can significantly impact your B2B sales cycle.

Trend 2: The emergence of Sales-enabled B2B Public Relations

Public relations has always been key to B2B marketing, and in 2023, it will be truer than ever.

B2B PR in 2023 could be a feature in the South China Morning Post, a video review by an influencer, or a trade magazine mention. Let’s also remember that thought leadership counts for PR – and can be an excellent long-term PR investment for your brand.

But not all B2B businesses are jumping on the PR bandwagon. For some, it’s the cost; for others, it’s the need for clarity on how PR can deliver sales and revenue.

The answer to all of this is Sales-enabled PR

At Current Asia, we know how to leverage PR so you can visibly

  • Shorten the sales cycle
  • Start Driving revenue
  • Build a high-quality lead pipeline

Trend 3: Web3: A New Frontier for B2B marketing?

Web3, or the third edition of the World Wide Web, has a bold ambition to put control in the hands of users rather than companies. Its features focus on the decentralization of data, blockchain-centric systems, and the metaverse – all of which may lead to more transparent marketing, immersive virtual experiences, and community building.

Here is where first-party data comes into play. First-party data is the future of marketing and will be essential to giving your B2B customers what they want and need to commit to a purchase.

Over-relying on third-party data? Please speak to our experts today to find out how to build your first-party database!

Trend 4: Purpose-driven marketing

This could be the biggest B2B branding trend for 2023. There is an enormous focus on ESG, sustainability, ethical brands and more.

B2B customers today want to purchase from brands with a purpose beyond selling a FinTech solution or making SaaS software. They want to hear your brand’s story and see you play a bigger role in the world you operate in. The client’s definition of trust has expanded beyond the expectation of a quality product or service. Today, they want to trust your purpose and how your marketing positions that aspect of your organization is key in closing the sale.

Trend 5: Micro-Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the biggest B2C trends that made its way to the B2B universe. Partly due to the increasing emphasis customers have on testimonials and proof points vs the brand’s voice alone – this was happening pre-pandemic but has shot into overdrive during the last few years.

Today research shows that the more niche your influencer is, the better. Creators no longer need millions of followers to be effective or even relevant. Marketing Chart’s study shows that micro-influencers (creators with less than 15K followers) have the highest engagement rate across platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Whether it’s celebrities, industry experts or satisfied customers, B2B customers prefer to receive information from those they trust to give honest, straightforward, and knowledgeable advice. And most of the time, that is likely to be an influencer—not a salesperson.

Trend 6: Goodbye walled garden, hello open web

Compared to walled gardens like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Amazon, the open web is where consumers are most likely to find relevant and impactful ads.

In collaboration with The Harris Poll, OpenX conducted a nationwide study with 2000 U.S. consumers. Key findings from the research prove that marketers have been over-indexing their spending on Walled Gardens compared to the Open Web. It reveals that 84% of consumers turn to the Open Web first for information on a business, and 81% of consumers turn to the Open Web first for products to buy.

Here is where programmatic advertising plays a very important role in B2B marketing strategy, ensuring businesses are seen where they are more likely to be shopped or considered.

Find out Current Asia’s Programmatic capabilities.

Trend 7: Shifting beyond the mainstream-social

Everyone has done the Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin circuit, and it’s time to explore newer social haunts that are attracting all the big tech B2B customers. These are governed by rules of privacy, encryption, lack of traceability and disappearing messages but pull in massive crowds and are growing joints for knowledge sharing. Think Telegram, private Discord servers, Reddit and more. If your brand is visible on social media or in the press, it is likely to be talked about on these networks. This is a unique place for businesses to build relationships with prospects and customers, and instead of just providing information, ask questions, listen to feedback and learn through listening. In today’s sales funnel, customers do research, discuss pros and cons with peers, and only involve salespeople as a last resort – often after their mind is made up – and most end up closing the deals before they ever talk to a salesperson.

This is why it’s vital for brands to be present and offer the information buyers seek—where they already are.

Trend 8: Building a diverse content strategy is key

Social media in 2023 will go beyond vanity metrics.

Until now, B2B brands focused on a handful of social media networks. But the instability of Twitter and Meta is proving why this may be a bad idea.

In 2023, anyone using social media for marketing, customer service, and PR should make big shifts if they haven’t already. Diversifying in terms of content formats (videos, images, GIFs etc.) is one part of it, but so is changing the way we approach performance and metrics.

Brands may need to move away from the ‘reach and impressions mindset’ and focus on limited, high-quality engagements. This is because newer networks are more focused, but the smaller cliques on them are strong and engaged. We have seen small Reddit groups rattle the stock market and the crypto world, and that is a behaviour likely to follow through in other industries.
It may also become more important to have a diversified platform strategy – choosing specific networks for a specific purpose – such as SlideShare for customer education, Discord for discussions and YouTube for product awareness.

Trend 9: Community will become key for B2B

The phasing out of third-party cookies means brands must work harder to build close relationships with customers and prospects – in real life and on social media.

Community – which was only a B2C construct, will become BIG in 2023.

This will mean building meaningful user experiences, sharing information and insights and engaging with the participants to move the user through the funnel.

Trend 10: From individual customer personas to buyer groups

The fact is that most B2B purchase decisions are made by a group of decision-makers and not one persona alone – it may be led by a CTO but would include the commercial team, sales head and marketing lead in the conversation. And each wants something specific from the product.

Marketing may cite qualified leads as their primary performance indicator, whereas sales are interested in revenue. As a result of this misalignment, a strategy has emerged to ensure that marketing efforts are focused on conversion-ready buying groups within an account. Forrester reported that in 2021, 63% of B2B purchases were made by a group of four or more buyers. This may not be news to B2B marketers, and now MarTech solutions have advanced to meet this need.

Find out how Current Asia can help with buyer group marketing.

Trend 11: AI-enabled tools and their power to transform B2B marketing

With the arrival of platforms like Chat-GPT, Copy.AI and Midjourney, the theoretical power of AI has become a reality.

AI now has the potential to significantly change B2B marketing in several ways through

  1. Personalization: AI can be used to create more personalized marketing campaigns, such as by tailoring messaging and content to match the characteristics or interests of a specific target audience.
  2. Predictive analytics: Analysis of large amounts of data, such as customer behaviour and sales data, to make predictions about future customer behaviour and market trends.
  3. Automation: AI could automate time-consuming tasks, such as lead generation and email campaigns, allowing marketers to focus on more strategic tasks.
  4. Optimization: AI can optimize marketing campaigns in real time by adjusting targeting or messaging based on performance data.
  5. Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots can provide instant support and guidance to potential customers and help in lead generation.
  6. Content Creation: AI-enabled tools can create B2B content in various ways. One of the most common ways is through natural language generation (NLG) technology, which can automatically create written content based on structured data, such as news articles, product descriptions, and social media posts. For example, an e-commerce platform might use NLG to automatically generate product descriptions based on data from a product catalogue.

Trend 12: Human-centric organizations

People want to see people-run organizations. And this is why your leadership needs to be at the centre of your communications.

And they need to have personal brands that deserve following. A culture that stems from the startup world has slowly reached the upper echelons of the corporate world and the SMB industries.

The myth of the unreachable CEO may have once given businesses an upper edge but the reality now is that CEOs that speak out can use their traction and their pull for a lot of good, and B2B buyers in 2023 are going to keep an eye out for them.