Top 5 Emerging B2B Software Marketing Trends for 2022

January 27, 2022
Contributor: Shubham Gupta

Stay relevant, profitable and successful with these B2B marketing trends that are emerging in 2022.

While it’s hard to predict what 2022 will hold, two things will never stop changing, shifting and maturing — customer behavior and technology. Due to ever-shifting consumer demands, marketing strategies for B2B companies are evolving rapidly. 

According to Gartner research, customers’ preferences are largely moving from in-person sales interactions to digital channels. In its Future of Sales research report, Gartner further predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur via digital channels.

As the B2B space continues to evolve, businesses need to stay on top of emerging developments. Below, we discuss five B2B marketing trends that will drive 2022 and explain how companies can leverage them for marketing success.

1. Marketing budget spending is shifting

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted businesses across the globe. Marketing budgets fell from 11% of company revenue in 2020 to 6.4% in 2021, according to Gartner. Despite this decline, chief marketing officers (CMOs) are optimistic about budgets bouncing back in 2022 and looking forward to spending their marketing budgets more rationally.

Per Gartner research, 72% of the marketing budget is now going to purely digital channels, including owned digital, paid digital and earned digital (full research available to clients).

Marketing budget allocation across marketing channels

The shift in budget allocation to digital channels is mainly because software buyers are heavily going digital.

In the rebounding economy, many B2B businesses are looking for cost-effective ways to market their products and/or services. Considering the dynamic growth in internet usage, many have realized that the future of marketing is digital. To succeed at online selling, Gartner suggests B2B businesses adopt a digital-first approach.

Three ways shift in marketing budget allocation to digital channels will help B2B businesses succeed in 2022:
 
  • Reach. By leveraging search marketing campaigns, B2B companies can get their messages out to a large audience of buyers who are actively looking to make a purchase decision.
  • Engagement. Digital channels can help B2B companies gain better customer attention and engagement. B2B marketers can use rich media, videos and landing pages that match their customers’ buying cycle.
  • Scale. Once B2B companies create a digital marketing program, they can scale it easily. They can use such campaigns to generate leads and reach out to potential buyers.

2. CMO priorities are changing

Since customer expectations and behaviors have drastically changed due to the pandemic, it has become more complex (and crucial) than ever for B2B companies to predict customers’ intent more accurately. 

The ever-increasing digitalization of customer journeys demands marketing teams to take on a larger role across the buyer life cycle. Per Gartner research, 32% of CMOs rank customer experience among the top three priorities for B2B success. Hence, CMOs are prioritizing customer journeys and emphasizing intensive marketing touch points and experiences.

B2B CX fundamentals
Three ways prioritizing the customer journey will improve B2B marketing in 2022:
 
  • A more loyal customer base. The happier customers are with their interactions with a company, the more confident they feel about doing business with that company in the future. Even if there's a price discrepancy between two companies offering the same quality, customers will lean more toward the one they have already had an incredible journey with.
  • Higher success chances for digital initiatives. Truly understanding the target audience is one of the best things that can happen to any business. Knowing what problems customers are facing every day enables businesses to offer services customers want and need instead of wasting money on tactics that are a hit and miss. It also helps them come up with better marketing strategies.
  • More business from existing customers and lower retention costs. If companies make customers happy, customers show their appreciation by continuing to do business with them. Improving the customer journey allows businesses to better understand their customers' goals, needs, preferences and problems, which offers a great opportunity to increase revenue.

3. Adoption of B2B marketing channels is growing

Although digitization has made it easier to target the right buyers, it has increased the competition among B2B companies to gain customer attention. Choosing the right marketing channels can help B2B firms drive brand awareness, engagement and sales in 2022 and well beyond.

Per Gartner research, four strategic themes will drive marketing strategies in 2022 (full research available for clients):.

  • Customer journey orchestration. Mapping a customer’s entire experience with a business. It helps ensure a holistic customer view is considered when planning new products or services to improve the customer experience.
  • Marketing's shifting role in the enterprise. The role of marketing is changing and becoming more critical to the success of B2B companies. With the advent of new technologies and evolving customer needs, marketing has become more crucial than ever to meet buyer expectations.
  • Strategic brand management. A collection of business tools and techniques used to assess a brand's position in the market. It ensures customers are satisfied with the experiences they have had with a brand.
  • Change and volatility management. A measure to deal with unexpected market changes and increase the overall stability of a B2B marketing strategy. Marketers use it to identify, plan for or reduce unexpected consumer movement away from products or brands.
Themes driving marketing strategies

Social media can be a versatile channel for B2B companies, given the liberty it offers. Per Gartner research, 82% of B2B brands are active on social media, and they are employing all possible ways to reach and engage with buyers to drive desired business results (full research available for clients).

Three marketing channels B2B businesses should focus on in 2022:
 
  • LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is a social platform that focuses on business networking, its B2B targeting capability helps choose target audiences based on job title or industry. 96% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for organic social marketing.
  • YouTube. Since many B2B buyers watch online videos to make purchase decisions, video marketing has become one of the most common forms of B2B marketing. YouTube, a well-known platform for video content consumption (with over 243 million users in 2021), allows B2B marketers to reach millions of potential customers with cleverly targeted videos.
  • Reviews websites. Reviews play a vital role in the success of any B2B marketing strategy. Per Gartner research, software buyers use online reviews to research a business before making a purchase decision. In 2022, B2B marketers must prioritize reviews sites for third-party validation and user-generated content.

4. Content marketing is advancing

Content marketing offers numerous benefits including driving traffic, increasing brand awareness and authority, educating customers and converting potential buyers. Therefore, it is being increasingly adopted by software providers.

Per Gartner research, marketing teams usually spend around 30% of their budget on content creation to fulfill a variety of engagement initiatives. Yet, less than 40% of marketers involved in content marketing have a defined and documented strategy. The right B2B content marketing strategy will help B2B companies attract, acquire and retain customers.

This brings us to the most common question asked by B2B firms — what type of content formats will resonate well with prospects in 2022? The answer, of course, depends on potential consumers. As people engage with different types of media, switching things up (between texts, images, audio and video) will help B2B companies generate interest among customers in the formats they engage with most often.

The right combination will convince interested audiences to purchase. Using different content formats, such as blogs/articles, infographics, images, videos, case studies, eBooks and email newsletters, will help B2B marketers attract more leads and customers in 2022.

Seven benefits of using different content formats for purpose-driven marketing in 2022:
 
  • Identify, target and reach out to existing/potential customers.
  • Engage with customers across channels.
  • Make it easy for customers to find the information they are looking for.
  • Increase traffic to marketing content.
  • Boost brand awareness and improve customer relationships.
  • Make it easier for customers to connect with you via social media.
  • Improve website analytics by adding rich snippets.

5. Metrics and analysis are reshaping

As customer needs evolve, so must the marketing practices of businesses. Therefore, the traditional analysis and metrics approach of many B2B marketers and how they measure and report on marketing performance are also evolving.

Per Gartner research, around 80% of marketing organizations report having a B2B marketing automation platform deployed, leading to better marketing metrics calculation and analysis (full research available for clients).

In 2022, there will be a continued shift from traditional metrics, such as return on investment, to new ones, such as third-party cookies, customer retention and marketing attribution. 

How customer retention, third-party cookies and marketing attribution will help B2B businesses succeed in 2022:
 
  • Customer retention will help B2B marketers measure how well their organization is responding to the demands of customers throughout the buying process.
  • Marketing attribution will help B2B companies evaluate the marketing touchpoints on a buyer’s path to purchase.
  • With Google and Apple changing how advertisers can track their cookies, B2B marketers may be seen avoiding third-party cookies in 2022.

Change is the only constant in B2B marketing

There you have it — the top five B2B marketing trends that software providers will see in 2022 and beyond. As the B2B space is continuously evolving, keep these upward trends in mind when you plan your marketing strategy to stay ahead of the game.

Shubham Gupta

Shubham Gupta is a Content Writer at Gartner Digital Markets who ideates and creates purpose-driven content to help modern technology businesses achieve their goals. Outside of work, he enjoys reading thriller novels and Urdu poetry, as well as spending time with his dog. Connect with Shubham on LinkedIn.

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