The B2B marketing space has never been as dynamic and powerful as it is today. Much of that power comes from the evolution of the data and tools available to drive precision targeting and messaging at scale. At the center of these evolving capabilities sits audience data, an essential component of today’s successful B2B campaigns.
Audience data describes detailed information available about customers and prospects. It can encompass demographics, firmographics, education and employment, intent, interests, past purchases, brand affinities, product ownership and more. For B2B brands, audience data is increasingly essential, given the growing sophistication of capabilities within account-based marketing (ABM).
ABM is an always-on strategy that enables brands to deliver relevant experiences to key B2B account prospects that are most likely to become customers. While the B2B world tends to focus heavily on this concept of accounts, B2B marketers also recognize the need to reach and speak to decision makers within accounts on an individual basis. Importantly, they need data that makes their audiences addressable in an omnichannel world. That’s where audience data comes in.
Deeper data investments by B2B brands
B2B advertising expenditures have experienced a robust recovery since the pandemic, reaching an impressive $14.32 billion in 2022. At the same time, B2B has gone increasingly digital. Forecasts from eMarketer indicate that digital ads will comprise nearly 50% of all B2B ad spending by 2024. Likewise, in 2023, over half of digital B2B ads will be targeted to mobile devices. This shift toward mobile acknowledges the changing behavior of B2B buyers, who are no longer confined to their work desktops and laptops. The untethering of B2B marketers from a device standpoint creates new opportunities for marketers to effectively engage with them.
But it’s not just B2B advertising that’s getting more attention. Acknowledging the addressability opportunities unlocked within today’s digital channel mix, B2B marketers are concurrently increasing their investments in data to support their ad spends. During a recent eMarketer presentation on the “U.S. B2B Marketing Data Spending Forecast 2023,” Kelsey Voss said that spending on third-party B2B marketing data is projected to reach $3.91 billion by 2024. However, marketers face challenges in determining how best to allocate these investments while complying with evolving privacy laws.
As regulations tighten, the appeal of basic contact list purchases is diminishing. Instead, B2B marketers now seek third-party sources of reliable audience data that can enhance the value of their own data.
Audience data for an omnichannel world
As B2B marketers acknowledge that a diversified channel mix is essential, the importance of reliable data becomes more evident. In 2023, an increasing number of marketers identified social media and streaming TV as their most effective digital marketing channels for revenue generation. This shift is due to consumers’ extensive time spent on these platforms, along with the fact that they are open to receiving work-related messages even during personal time.
Overall, B2B marketers are allocating more resources across various channels, with substantial increases observed in social media, content marketing and display advertising (particularly on platforms like LinkedIn). In the realm of streaming TV, 34% of B2B marketers are increasing their spending in 2023, compared to only 12% reducing their investments in this category.
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According to Voss, these evolving trends – the digitization and diversification of B2B ad spending alongside the merging of personal and professional lives – manifest in the top marketing tactics that today’s B2B marketers embrace. That includes personalized content and offers, customer loyalty programs and virtual events and webinars.
The modern B2B playbook will continue to transform to become more omnichannel and relevant at the individual level. As B2B marketers become more adept and varied in their digital ad spending, strategic investments in audience data will be crucial for achieving success in their campaigns.
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