For B2B companies, digital transformation is not a destination; it’s an ongoing journey. Marketers must continuously assess and adapt their marketing technology stack to remain competitive, meet evolving customer expectations, and seize new opportunities in the digital landscape.
As digital transformation continues to reshape the fundamentals of B2B marketing, businesses need to prioritize creating and delivering valuable, human-centered content. By doing this in a timely and accessible way, they are better positioned to meet the expectations of increasingly self-service-oriented buyers.
Let’s take a look at where digital transformation stands in B2B marketing and what it might portend for the rest of 2024.
Marketing technology has taken hold
According to recent research from Gartner, 68% of businesses have been replacing software more frequently since 2021. This signals that digital transformation has reached a high level of maturity, since companies have been using digital tools long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. The software replacement trend is indicative of a growing awareness that staying at the forefront of digital innovation is essential for long-term success.
That same study found that approximately 70% of businesses planned to increase their software investments in 2023. This demonstrates a commitment to harnessing the power of technology to enhance their marketing efforts and overall business operations.
As the business world continues to embrace digital tools and technologies, it’s clear that the market for these offerings has reached a high level of maturity and is poised for ongoing growth.
Marketing skills are digital skills
LinkedIn’s 2023 B2B Marketing Benchmark reveals a telling trend: digital skills are seen as the bedrock of success for B2B marketers at every level.
According to the report, marketing technology and data analytics mastery have emerged as top priorities for CMOs, with 49% emphasizing its importance in 2023. Looking ahead, an even larger proportion, 53%, anticipate these skills to be pivotal in the coming years.
B2B marketers lower on the org chart have an even higher stake in digital skills, with 61% of prioritizing these skills in their current roles.
Taken together, these trends underscore the pivotal role data and technology play in crafting targeted, effective, and measurable B2B marketing campaigns. This is a clear indicator that marketing technology and data-driven decision-making will play an ever-increasing central role in shaping strategies throughout the marketing function.
Content marketing continues to be relevant
One main component of the modern B2B marketplace is the preference for self-service. Buyers are looking for answers to specific questions, and they don’t want to wait around for a sales representative to schedule a call to answer those questions. In fact, 77% of marketing decision-makers confirm that buyers expect immediate answers.
And buyers are turning to content marketing to help get those answers. Recent research from Demand Gen Report shows that, within the last year, 71% of B2B buyers downloaded and read multiple assets to help guide their purchasing decisions. About the same amount said they shared those assets with their colleagues, expanding content’s reach beyond the initial reader.
Here in 2024, content marketers should feel confident. This same research finds that 46% of respondents said they plan to increase the amount of content they consume in the coming year.
Digital channels remain in flux
After the implosion of X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram’s Threads’ inability to fill the power vacuum that was left behind, there isn’t a clear picture of how—or whether—to continue investing in these social platforms.
Brands need to be careful about their association with an erratic platform like X, where misinformation and bots seem to have taken hold. But at the same time, brands need to find ways to be where their customers are, and, according to HubSpot, that may very well continue to be X.
Research from HubSpot also finds that 25% of marketers are abandoning podcasts and other audio content. That same research shows 23% of marketers aren’t going to continue with their VR/AR initiatives. While not exactly a mass exodus, it’s a significant trend away from promising new arenas. (And maybe an opportunity for others to fill the void.)
Overall, marketers seem to be taking a more conservative wait-and-see approach to their channels of choice in 2024.
Generative AI is a must-have in digital marketing
The newest addition to everyone’s martech stack last year was a wealth of generative AI tools. From Midjourney to ChatGPT, there are more than enough tools to suit every marketer’s needs, bringing newfound efficiency and innovation to B2B strategies.
And these tools are being used across the board. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Benchmark, about three-quarters of marketing leaders report that they have either started using or increased their use of generative AI tools this year.
But these tools aren’t just a fad. They have real implications for how effective marketers can be, especially as uptake has solidified and the tools have matured. McKinsey estimates that generative AI tools may increase the marketing function’s productivity anywhere from 5% to 15%.
It has become a bit of a cliche in marketing circles this year, but it remains true: AI won’t replace you, a person using AI will. Marketers who don’t integrate generative AI into their workflows—and do so responsibly—are at risk of falling behind.
Digital transformation keeps driving B2B marketing
Feeling lost amid the constant churn of digital transformation in B2B? Our B2B marketing resources have the insights and expert guidance you need to navigate every aspect of digital marketing.
Nick Nelson is our friendly neighborhood writer-man. As the Associate Content Director at TopRank Marketing, he is on a mission to energize brand narratives with smart, fun, sharp wordplay. In his free time, Nick enjoys basking in the misery of Minnesota sports fandom, making cringeworthy puns, and smothering all types of food in buffalo sauce.