Top 4 marketing channels for B2B brand awareness in 2021

If B2B marketing campaigns were board games, the awareness stage of the sales funnel would begin at the “start” space and last well into the first few turns.

As an experienced player (or marketer) will tell you, it’s here where your initial moves can make all the difference in performance. How well you do at this point can be the reason you win (i.e. sign a new client) or the explanation for why you came second place. Can you still win if you don’t blow away the competition at this stage? Yes, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult to get ahead down the line.

Now think of digital marketing channels like the direction cards or rolls of the dice: They get you where you need to be. So if you want to move forward in the B2B marketing game, you need to utilize the best, most efficient channels to achieve your overall goal of brand awareness. But in the 2021 version of the B2B marketing game, some channels have changed. As we saw with COVID-19’s initial impact in March 2020, B2B companies have had to remain nimble; digital channels that worked to achieve awareness in the past might not be as effectual anymore. “Companies have been forced to look at digital channels and communication techniques that they did not use previously,” says Brian Giese, CEO at True Influence.

So which paths should B2B companies take to reach brand awareness among targeted accounts next year? Which channels will result in the most efficient spends and highest returns? While most marketing channels can (and should) be utilized throughout all stages of the sales funnel—including consideration, validation, and evaluation—there are a few that stand out as the winners of 2021. These are the channels B2B marketing teams should focus their efforts on in order to increase organic traffic, blog visits, and engagement over the next 12 months.

SEO

If anyone tells you SEO doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of B2B marketing campaigns, they aren’t thinking about longer-term strategies. More than half, 53%, of visits to B2B websites come from organic search. And as we head into 2021, how you rank on search engines will continue to affect the number of potential accounts who find you and your content. That said, B2B companies should pay attention to a few SEO trends in the new year; voice search, longer content, and mobile-friendly pages are just three of a number of factors that will affect current and future search engine rankings.

Thought leadership content

Content marketing as a whole has remained popular and effective for B2B marketing campaigns, and it will continue to reign supreme in 2021. More specifically, however, B2B companies should look into developing thought leadership content as a way to generate awareness. Publishing relevant, valuable content on well-respected industry websites and publications serves to help 64% of senior executives make decisions. In fact, 96% of B2B buyers look for this type of content as it establishes a company as a credible source. Plus, it can also help improve your company’s search engine ranking.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to this type of content, however, is you need to leave the hard sell at the door. You can work on that later, once the audience has familiarized themselves with the content, the author, and the author’s background. This a channel that works only if the content is legitimately focused on the information (and any quality editor likely won’t accept anything less). Thought leadership content should be similar to how Giese described the way to move forward with digital engagement; it has to be delivered in a way that’s “relevant” and “delivers value.”

Podcasts

120 million. That’s the estimated number of people who will be listening to podcasts in 2021. That’s up from 75 million just two years ago. For those unfamiliar with the channel, podcasts go above and beyond true crime, news, and celebrity gossip; there’s something for everything and everyone. Series like The B2B Marketing Podcast, B2B Growth, and The B2B Marketing Leaders Podcast provide insight from industry leaders, B2B marketing gurus, and sales extraordinaires. Do podcasts technically fall under thought leadership content? Yes, in a way. By creating your own podcast or having a marketing leader from your company as a guest on another, you enable listeners to connect and familiarize themselves with your skillset and expertise.

LinkedIn

Currently, 95% of B2B companies use LinkedIn for content marketing. That statistic isn’t going to decrease in the new year as one of the effects of COVID-19 is the rise of the virtual workplace. B2B companies should use LinkedIn to share informative content, follow industry leaders and trends, use social listening tactics, and utilize LinkedIn’s data to target with social advertising. LinkedIn also allows access to a wealth of information and data that aligns with B2B marketing strategies: industries, job titles, companies, interests, and hobbies. There’s no guesswork surrounding your B2B buyer persona—it’s all found on LinkedIn.

As marketers roadmap out their strategy for 2021, looking for alternate, not-so-saturated routes to drive awareness will be paramount. Buyer behavior will fluctuate, and B2B companies must remaining flexible, smart, and extremely reactive if they want to grow their business—starting from the awareness level up. 

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