This time last year, everything changed for marketers. Companies that had made early investments in digital-first advertising were able to dig into their technology stacks and gain some traction. Those companies who had delayed a digital revolution suddenly scrambled to gain a technological foothold, often from home and restricted by quarantine measures.
In June of 2020, the World Economic Forum reported that European digital ad spend was down 9% over the previous year. By the end of Q1 2020, 70% of ad buyers paused or adjusted their spending. The old trends were exacerbated: print, TV and billboards were less effective while digital marketing took off. By August 2020, eMarketer revised its numbers to include the shift toward digital advertising and we ended the year with 10% growth in the programmatic advertising space.
2021 looks to be just as complicated as we learn to live with the reality how the past year has changed how we reach audiences. We can no longer rely on print or in-person events. Third-party cookies will be phased out. Digital advertising will become more competitive as social, search, and retargeting spaces become saturated and big brands drive up the auction price.
B2B brands have to make some changes to survive.
Survival tactic 1: educate for today’s problems
Companies who never needed tech to run their daily operations now realize that they have to have it to survive. Small and medium businesses, Mom and Pop shops, sole proprietors, and even large corporations are looking for remote and cloud business options. This presents a huge opportunity for B2B providers—if they have the content to take advantage of it.
We’ve seen more traffic than ever to review sites and educational software content. Companies are hungry for information on how to exist in today’s business environment. You can capture that attention with the right content:
- Educate researchers on their buying decisions. What do they need and what problems can tech solve? We’re no longer speaking to folks who have a general understanding of a CRM or cloud technology. Instead, we have to build full-funnel content to lead new users through to their first purchase decisions.
- Write content that speaks to today’s challenges. Last year, we may have pushed the efficiency that a project management software will bring to a company’s processes. Today, newly remote companies will have trouble surviving—and definitely won’t thrive—without project management software to organize their tasks. The same is true for nearly every cloud software. Highlight the margins.
Survival tactic 2: choose the right competitors
Ten thousand clicks in today’s market isn’t going to equal the same number of demos you got in the past. The prices are too high and the competition too steep. Instead of diversifying and carpet-bombing every market, your marketing needs to find the market where you will be heard above the noise.
Small to medium tech vendors who don’t have huge marketing budgets will get priced out of search ads every time, so you better look for different advertising space. These companies have to pivot back to targeted, niche, and owned audiences to make their ad spend count. Newsletters, websites, content syndication, and other owned media provides access to siloed audiences at lower cost per acquisition.
Companies with larger budgets, greater internal resources, and the time to invest in the awareness that impression-based ads can bring should revive their search ad departments. Investing in creatively targeting the audiences that work best for you will bring you much better results than running spray-and-pray programmatic campaigns.