Katie Jansen is CMO at AppLovin, a mobile app technology platform with powerful, integrated solutions that grow developers’ businesses.
For many businesses, 2020 was a challenging year, with many having to make quick changes and pivots as the pandemic intensified.
2020 is now behind us, but there are lasting impacts, and teams are now focused on new goals and milestones ahead. The urgency for remote teams to be more resilient and high-functioning is important now more than ever. This year we will see the ongoing impact the pandemic has on consumer behavior and it will be an opportunity for marketers to respond to customer demands. What we do this year may amplify and speed up growth for the foreseeable future.
With a remote workforce, consumer demand for transparency and heavier reliance on technology, B2B marketing will face more changes this year in how we engage and interact with our customers.
Here are five tips to strengthen your B2B marketing in 2021:
1. Prepare for more changes throughout the year.
The pandemic has caused businesses to pivot their offerings, restrategize and roll with the punches to stay afloat. We saw a clear example of this in the restaurant industry, which was hit especially hard but found new ways to keep their doors open. Businesses tapered down menus, offered at-home meal kits, added delivery and takeout services, and shuffled their indoor dining to sidewalks and patios.
Continued change will be a theme for 2021. Think about what you’re doing now that may need to be modified to adapt and respond to shifting demands and requirements.
Here are some changes to consider:
• Examine your customer base: Have they grown or changed? Use this data to plan for new ways to reach new types of customers.
• Create tailored content that speaks to audience demands: Can you address customer questions through videos or webinars?
• Pare down or shift the size of product rollouts: Will they need to be smaller or bigger, and how will marketing materials align?
• Assess new technology adoption: Does it make sense to launch a chatbot to facilitate a faster sales cycle for your customers?
2. See what companies outside of your industry are doing.
Despite the fact that the travel industry was hit hard after the lockdowns, Airbnb moved quickly to help their hosts and connect them to potential guests. They added more engagement opportunities by offering experiences — new online events centered around cooking, art, songwriting, virtual tours, meditation, and more.
It wasn’t free, but users could get involved for a small fee. It’s an approach that has evolved to move with the pandemic and not being able to travel, while still staying true to the brand.
To gain a fresh perspective, see how other industries are engaging their customers. Look for ideas around:
• Social media engagement: Is there anything noteworthy, trendy or different?
• Educational content: What kind of top-of-funnel materials do they offer and how do they present it to customers?
• Types of products and services offered: How do marketing collateral and narrative help buyers justify the purchase?
• Methods for engagement: Do they have notable messaging around push notifications, email subscriptions or popups?
3. Tap into millennials and Gen Z.
They’re the generations known for favoring experiences over things, and trends continue to indicate that they’re ready to spend. During the pandemic, both generations faced disruptions that touched every aspect of their lives, including school and career prospects, mental stability and well-being.
Here are a couple of quick facts to help you understand why you should consider expanding your market to these generations:
• Millennials, born between 1981 and the mid-1990s, now exceed baby boomers in the largest living population segment.
• Gen Z, born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, will increase their spending by more than 70% in the next five years.
If you want to expand your audience to be more inclusive of these groups, consider:
• Both generations make purchases based on their values: How is your brand representative of its values?
• Empathy: Does your company give back or have causes that involve environmental, political or socio-economic problems that we are facing today?
• Social commerce: The pandemic has caused an increase in people making purchases over social media. How is your brand connecting and offering a way for consumers to make purchases?
4. Improve your emotional connection with customers.
Many of the brands that will succeed in 2021 will nail the emotional connection with their customers. A report that studied the pandemic and consumer brand connection shows that customers were happiest and most satisfied when companies provided excellent service while supporting and enhancing their daily lives.
The dating app, Bumble, made a video that addressed physical distancing but still emphasized the human desire to meet people. Even though it was a reminder of our current environment, it was relatable and gave viewers a sense of hope and positivity.
5. Expand your product market and form new partnerships.
This year could be the opportunity to form new partnerships and expand your product offerings. Consider tapping into other interests your audience may have.
Spotify expanded its offerings with a subtle but noticeable shift to more original content in the form of podcasts. The platform added 150,000 podcasts in March 2020, which was 69% higher than the previous month.
Since then, the music giant has signed exclusive podcast deals with celebrities. It’s also used the new content to curate personalized playlists.
Other examples include the rise of “hybrid apps” in gaming. Fortnite now shows movies in its apps while Twitch has added basketball podcasts and cooking shows to its lineup. Twitch also racked up 400,000 viewers after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez streamed Among Us for the first time.
Plan for uncertainty but anticipate that you’ll learn a lot.
While there’s still a lot that remains to be seen, this year businesses will continue to experience changes in the way we connect, engage and interact with our customers.
Brainstorm and start the conversation with leadership and your teams now. Prepare for shifts in consumer spending and demand by keeping a pulse on what’s happening within the market and in your business.
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Katie Jansen is CMO at AppLovin, a mobile app technology platform with powerful, integrated solutions that grow developers’ businesses. Read Katie Jansen’s full executive