In recent years, social and cultural shifts have had an increasing influence on purchase decision making for B2B customers. That has made the buying process for B2B brands a difficult one to master.

Customers care about issues, such as climate change, income inequality, and racial injustice, and they now factor in how brands are addressing these issues. Today, silence is not an option in the B2B world.

There’s disappointment over wasted ad spend from advertisers, distrust of fake information, and fears about data privacy from consumers. These are driving changes in digital marketing and advertising.

Overcoming all these obstacles can seem like an impossible feat...

So, to kick start your year, we’ve picked the 5 B2B marketing trends you need to look out for in 2022, as well as detailed ways you can implement these trends into your campaigns.

Trend #1: The Importance of Brand Trust

Brand trust is at an all-time low, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. Over the years, trust has taken a serious hit across sectors, led by technology and entertainment.

According to Edelman, a staggering 57% of respondents think the media they consume contains untrustworthy information.

As for informing an opinion of a company, customers value the reviews of experts and peers over yours. Their information appears much more credible and organic.

While more people trust search engines and traditional media more, they have less regard for owned media and social media. Yet, B2B marketers use owned content and social media the most, according to a B2B Content Marketing report by the Content Marketing Institute.

What you can do in 2022

First and foremost, use original research, quotes from customers, and quotes from industry experts when creating content, as this will showcase your credibility as a brand.

While owned content is about the brand, it should not all be from the brand. There is more trust if there’s third-party validation.

This offers an opportunity for B2B brands to get involved meaningfully with influencer marketing by using research data, subject matter experts, and their own customers to build greater credibility and trust.

Trend #2: Understand Belief-Driven Buyers

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows consumers trust brands they see as ethical, dependable, and purposeful. Brands that demonstrate these values are the ones that will succeed in 2022.

Today, belief-driven buyers have the power to switch, avoid, or even boycott a brand based on its stand on social issues. Two-thirds of consumers expect brands to act on them. People want to buy from “good” companies, and you need to prove you are one of them.

For marketing to resonate with people – and in particular Millennials and Gen Z – brands should be authentic, ethical, and socially responsible. Essentially, you need to show you share the same values as your customers.

Accenture Strategy’s global survey found that 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on relevant issues like sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices.

What you can do in 2022

Stats like these should motivate you to make a difference and build meaningful relationships with their clients. First, you should implement positive changes in your business practices, from sourcing products and hiring talent to managing resources and treating employees.

You should also tap into cause marketing, corporate social responsibility programmes, community outreach, and stakeholder partnership to address social issues. And you must communicate all these efforts throughout all your marketing campaigns.

Trend #3: Intelligent, Efficient Advertising Is Essential

Programmatic advertising is a more sophisticated, automated, and efficient way of targeting and running ads. It uses automation in the real-time buying and selling of contextual ads that are dynamically served.

Zenith Media reports that 69% of all digital media ad spending in 2020 was through programmatic advertising, and the benefits are obvious. Targeting is more precise, and the ads are more relevant. Plus, companies can manage ads through a single platform.

The results? The cost of acquisition is lower, and ads are more effective.

What you can do in 2022

For those of you who are turning towards account-based marketing (ABM) to nurture leads and customers in 2022, you need to consider programmatic advertising, as it can be used to target accounts that aren’t engaging with their campaigns.

A programmatic approach can also promote content through native advertising on sites that are visited and trusted - both personally and professionally - by leads and customers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) surfaced by machine learning is also driving greater efficiency in B2B marketing. Leads are the heart of B2B marketing and sales teams, and AI can improve the quality of leads for sourcing and scoring in an automated manner.

This will save you a lot of time, as predictive analytics driven by AI can forecast and identify which leads are most likely to buy.

AI is also excellent in hyper-personalisation, and the more personalised marketing content and messaging is, the higher your conversion rate is likely to be.

Trend # 4: Modern Content Creation

Today, B2B marketers are still relying on traditional whitepapers, print newsletters, and static website content to share information and establish thought leadership.

B2C marketers, on the other hand, are more creative in communicating their brand message using a variety of formats and styles.

A survey by Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council discovered that customers look for more of an emotional connection with B2B brands, given the higher stakes involved.

Therefore, successful content marketing shouldn’t just appeal to logic using facts and technical jargon. It’s about connecting to customers. And that’s exactly what B2B marketers need to achieve in 2022.

What you can do in 2022

Be bolder and more imaginative when creating content. And storytelling is one of the best approaches to follow.

Instead of hard selling, B2B brand storytelling uses elements like conflict, climax, and resolution to create excitement. It uses episodic content that customers can follow and anticipate.

You should also consider modular content. Modular content has core modules that can be taken apart and assembled in different ways and formats to create content more efficiently.

You can assemble, combine, or extend these modules to fit your purpose and audience.

Trend # 5: The Importance of First-Party Data

The end of third-party cookies is coming. The pressure to protect the privacy of consumers has forced technology companies to change the way they track customer data.

The biggest player in the field, Google, has announced it will move away from these tracking codes in 2023, following similar moves from competitors Apple and Mozilla. This means marketers can’t track advertising across sites... and this is a big blow to the status quo of performance marketing.

What you can do in 2022

It’s critical to hold your own first-party data stored on your own website. You need to work harder in collecting more information from your site visitors and users.

And you must start now – 2023 may seem an age away, but it will come sooner than you think.

There are also other ways to prepare for the end of third-party cookies. Google and Facebook have their own rich first-party data that you should use when advertising on their platforms.

It’s also worth setting aside time to experiment with new ad platforms that are in beta and look for more alternatives for ad targeting. The sooner you’re prepared, the better!

Final Thoughts

Though the future B2B marketing landscape may seem intimidating, there is no need to fear! Now is the time for your brand to take a stand.

Be bold, showcase who you are, and demonstrate your worth. And by following the tips above, the future of your brand could look prosperous for years to come.