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Three lessons B2B can learn from 2021

2021 was a year of relative stabilisation as we began to truly get to grips with the reality of the changing nature of the workplace initially propelled by the pandemic. Businesses began to accept that remote working and increased reliance on digital technologies were more than passing trends, but rather cornerstones of our day-to-day working lives for the foreseeable future. But what can the B2B marketing industry learn from last year?

Since the pandemic began,

84% of organisations

reported that they were forced to undergo significant digital transformation. This wave of digitalisation had far reaching impacts on the marketing industry as a whole. The change was more than a migration of old approaches to new techniques – it completely altered how businesses communicate both internally and externally. 2022 is the time to build upon these transformations and reflect on how marketers can most effectively reach their audiences where they are in the current climate.

1. A widening gap between digital and physical work

As 2021 began,

92% of workers

thought that remote working would remain the norm, with the expectation that leaner teams and fewer resources would remain. As the year progressed, hybrid working began to grow in popularity.

83% of workers

now prefer a hybrid approach to their jobs, and the idea of being physically present at your place of work on a daily basis seems like a practice in the distant past. 2020 was an almost entirely remote year, and it was only as restrictions began to ease in the last year that we began to test hybrid approaches to our work. This rapid adjustment has become normalised so quickly that we may not have properly considered its impact.

In 2021, many businesses assumed that their staff could seamlessly transition to hybrid working. Employees already knew how to work in an office, and had been given additional training when remote working was brought in on a mass scale, so surely staff would be able to combine the two when going hybrid, right? Wrong. Salespeople, for example,

reported their biggest challenge

at the onset of the pandemic was not having enough training to be successful in a remote or hybrid setting.

Preparing your employees for the new reality of hybrid work should be an ongoing process. 2021 was the year that we learned that this was necessary – 2022 is the year that we must prioritise training and support to our employees above all else.

2. Moving towards non-linear approaches to communication

Communications, both internal and external, are a marketing team’s bread and butter. Personal connections have always been at the centre of marketing communications, but when everything shifted to a digital environment, marketing leaders had to make a radical break with practices that had been established for decades. After some time scrambling to find a strong solution, in the last year we learned that non-linear communication was the answer.

About a

third of our internet usage now consists of video consumption

, with the boundaries between B2C and B2B becoming increasingly blurred as buyers experience these new developments in their private consumption. As such, in 2021 marketers began to implement new communication channels into their strategies, whether that be AI, chatbots or video. Video has a decisive edge over other digital channels, as it maintains that strong personal connection that marketing has always relied upon. Additionally, when consuming video both customers and employees alike are satisfied by the personalised and unique approach that they have come to expect through their personal consumption. In the coming year, marketers must build on their fledgling understanding of online video, making the medium a core part of their marketing strategies.

3. Focusing on outcome-based work to truly prove your worth

In 2021 digitalisation not only changed the way we worked and marketed, but also impacted how we measured and shaped these two processes. As trends have come and gone at a lightning rate, it has become a greater challenge for marketing teams to get ahead of the curve and prove themselves as truly innovative market leaders.

Enter data-driven marketing. In 2021 many businesses had to update their data collection processes to keep pace with rapidly diversifying customer behaviour, as well as to take advantage of new possibilities offered by emerging software and models. Tapping into new types of data has become more crucial than ever before, allowing marketing teams to effectively present themselves to both existing and new customer bases. Continuing to invest in both the tech and people power that makes this possible must be a core focus for marketing teams entering the New Year, to avoid any potential missed opportunities and quickly passing trends.

2022 must be the year that businesses and marketing teams learn from the huge transformations that we experienced in 2021 and truly cement them into their long-term business plans. Customer and employee satisfaction is driven by strong insights which in turn power high-quality marketing, all underpinned by a team that has been trained and supported by their employer. There’s no time like the New Year to make real concrete change and invest in the power of your business for the future. 

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