COVID-19 and Affected B2B Technology Marketers

Chelsea Schei, Media Supervisor

With world-wide cancellations of industry events and trade shows, especially in the B2B Technology vertical, digital marketing must now play an even larger role in demand generation and accelerating leads through to pipeline ¬¬— no easy task. In-person events are one of the highest converting lead generation tactics for B2B. Based on a study from Demand Gen Report, 41% of businesses planned to increase their event marketing budget in 2020. 

With the shift away from events, IT buyers are also shifting how they research and interact with technology vendors. Kingpin Communications conducted a survey across North America, EMEA and APAC of IT professionals in mid-market and enterprise companies. Of the surveyed individuals, the top two tactics IT Buyers would now use to supplement their research are virtual events (43% average) and vendor webinars (28% average). North America specifically saw over 50% in both of these categories. 

With a larger shift to digital there are two major things that marketers will need to address:

Lead Volume. There is a need for generation of additional leads to make up for leads that would typically be generated at in person events. As noted above, many companies are moving to virtual events and webinars to replicate the in-person experience. However, with so many companies going this route we will likely see an overabundance of both virtual events and webinars. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from these tactics but use them wisely and in conjunction with other marketing channels. One way to do this is to adopt an ABM strategy. An ABM focused strategy allows for a more personalized experience for prospects and a tighter focus on a target audience for businesses. ABM can be executed in the following ways:

    Leverage any customer or company lists from the previous years' event or any list you may have that relates to the in-person event. If you are able to receive any current lists based on events that already had attendee lists those are also a good place to start to narrow your audience.  

   Partner with the Sales team to determine any specific prospective company lists that are high priority 

    If the first two ABM options are not available, utilize an ABM strategy by leveraging intent data to find companies that are actively searching in the market for your technology solution and then layer additional targeting such as job tiles to reach your target audience. 
This ABM strategy can be used for promoting the virtual events and webinars but can also be used across additional channels for lead generation and a more integrated marketing strategy that will help surround the target audience and continue to move leads through the pipeline. Other lead generations channels to consider: social and content syndication.

Content. To support the additional lead generation efforts and continue to move leads to conversion and into pipeline, there needs to be a larger focus on content that addresses different stages of the customer journey. eMarketer recently reported that B2B tech spending is currently down, but while no one is currently buying everyone is learning, which gives us the opportune time to supply your audience the content they need to make buying decisions. 

    Third-party Analyst reports. These non-bias reports serve as a great top of funnel piece as individuals are doing their research in a specific product category. Top names like Gartner and Forrester drive strong performance. 

    Webinars. Both live and on-demand webinars are great tools to further interact with your target audience. Content should be educational and focused around pain points versus a sales pitch. Bringing a partner or customer in to co-present on a webinar adds a layer of confidence and trust for the attendee. Typically, we see webinar attendee leads score higher as they have committed more time with your brand.

    Customer Case Studies can be used for mid-funnel leads. To pair with an ABM strategy, best practice is to segment companies by industry and have specific case studies that support those industries, so users are receiving the most relevant content to aid in decision making.

Overall, this quick pivot to increased digital marketing to help fill the sales pipeline will require marketers to be both nimble and strategic with how to spend most efficiently and effectively. Here at R2i, we’re partnering with many of our B2B clients to provide in depth strategic guidance, adjust existing campaigns, and quickly spin up new campaigns to address this new need and help marketers meet their goals.

About the author: Chelsea Schei

Chelsea brings over nine years of agency experience to the R2i media team. As a Media Supervisor, Chelsea drives the media strategy and execution for client campaigns focusing on research, strategic planning, campaign analysis, and continuous optimization to reach client goals. She has extensive experience in lead generation and awareness initiatives for B2B brands.

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