Actionable B2B Marketing Trends 2021 for Mid-sized Technology Companies

B2B Marketing Trends 2021

2020 may have been a rough year for all of us, but technology companies did a great job at continuing the business even through the peak of the pandemic. 

2020 was the year when technology companies looked beyond networking at events or getting recommendations from someone and embraced B2B marketing willingly. According to a LinkedIn report, 76% of marketers were compelled to change their key objectives to align with the current situation. 

As an agency that has supported B2B-focused mid-sized technology companies in establishing themselves as thought leaders of their industry for the last ten years, we believe that now is the right time to invest time and efforts into B2B marketing.

When it comes to B2B marketing, let’s take a look at some of the unique challenges of mid-sized technology companies, especially those which are just starting with their marketing efforts.

  • Don’t have big budgets for ads: It is natural to do paid ads to get more leads. While it might work for B2C, it might not necessarily work well for B2B companies. A mid-sized company may have a limited budget, while a single ad campaign could cost the company $1000-$2000 per month for ads. The returns are low too, with the CTR being as low as 3.10%. Even those clicks may not necessarily convert as the sales cycle in B2B is longer than B2C. That apart, unless the company has first established a strong online presence, spending on ads would not lead to any benefits. Hence, they need to think of alternatives to get more leads.
  • Creating multiple content formats is not always possible: It is tempting to create various content formats to gain diversified traffic. However, companies must remember creating multiple formats such as videos and podcasts can be time-consuming, expensive, and require people with specific skillsets. Companies that are just starting with their online marketing efforts need to prioritize where they want to spend their energies.  
  • They need focused marketing efforts: Mid-sized companies need to start with specific marketing goals, so that they can focus their marketing efforts on achieving them instead of trying everything and seeing no results in the end.
  • Marketing needs to support sales efforts: Marketing and sales can no longer work in silos – especially for B2B companies. They have to help each other to drive business and revenue growth. 57% of companies believe that collaboration between marketing and sales will advance marketing’s contribution to sales success and generate more ROI. 
  • CXO’s personal network plays a critical role: A CXO of a mid-sized technology company would have a strong network with other C-level executives of other companies. They can tap on this gold mine by posting their views and news on social media and interacting with other peers actively. Building a personal brand is imperative for creating a positive impact.
  • Marketing needs to be a self-running effort: With limited bandwidth, time, and budget, mid-sized technology companies may face challenges in running campaigns and achieving marketing goals. They need to, therefore, focus on creating a self-sustainable marketing plan that can run with minimal effort and resources. 

Now that we have set the ground rules, let’s look at the actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies can implement easily.

B2B Marketing Trends in 2021 For Mid-sized Technology Companies

High-value content

80% of decision-makers prefer to get information from an article instead of an ad. 

Hence, technology companies must focus on developing high-value content such as whitepapers, eBooks, and blogs. Cover topics such as the latest trends and industry news with unique take from experts, solution-specific content that addresses the company’s pain points, principal content such as prominent use cases or latest product updates, etc.  Whitepapers are also a great way to launch email campaigns. 

While creating high-value, evidence-based, and research-backed content is important, it is also equally important to create content regularly. Developing a content calendar and planning content distribution is the best way to ensure that content is published periodically. Publishing regularly will help the company to create brand awareness and also increase organic traffic to the website over a period. Ensure that there is content available at every stage of the customer journey such as attraction, consideration, and conversion, so the decision-makers are guided through the process.

Robust social media presence

According to the Harvard Business Review, 90% of C-level executives ignore cold outreach. So, those cold sales calls and emails will no longer help in generating leads. 

Instead, marketers and the sales team must focus on social selling. 84% of C-level and VP-level customers use social media to make purchase decisions. Posting on social media regularly will help technology companies to create brand awareness, network with prospects in an organic manner, and humanize the brand. Some types of posts that work well on social media include – posts from C-level executives, trends and challenges related to the industry or target customers, regular product principal content updates, new releases or wins, etc. 

Plan your blogging and social media posts using a social media calendar and regular schedule to strengthen its presence. Monitor its outcome regularly to know what works and what doesn’t and use those insights to create a solid social media strategy.

Webinars or live events on social media

Typically, technology companies leverage trade shows and industry conferences to network and get leads for their company. However, last year, it took a beating with most trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences getting canceled due to the pandemic. 

Companies can now conduct webinars and live events on social media to create awareness of their offering and generate leads. 46.5% of companies confirmed an increase in webinar hosting during the pandemic. Webinars are cost-effective, remove geographical barriers, and it’s easy to get the best speakers to speak to prospects across the world. Most importantly, webinars are generally attended by prospects who are in the consideration stage. So, the chances of conversions are high after the webinar is completed. 

Focus on personal branding

We cannot stress enough about the importance of personal branding. 

82% of people are more likely to trust a company whose leadership is active on social media. 

Encourage the C-level executives to actively post on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It will not just give a face to the company, but it will also help gain the attention of customers and investors. The best part is the leaders do not have to do anything elaborate to build their personal brand. Even small efforts such as sharing a personal opinion on the trends taking place in the industry, sharing personal or professional anecdotes and lessons learned from it, and writing an authoritative piece of article can help the leader establish their reputation as a thought leader.

Read more about personal branding in our previous blog here 

Build credibility with social proof

According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Survey, 70% of respondents said that trust is more important for them when dealing with brands. To gain the trust of prospects, technology companies will have to show social proof to back themselves as experts in the industry. These social proofs could be in the form of client testimonials, case studies, or industry-recognized certifications. These will enable companies to demonstrate their expertise and impact on prospects. Ensure that the feedback and ratings are collected from customers regularly and publish them on the website and social media to show value and build trust. 

2021 – The Road Ahead 

There are so many things that companies can do to build their brand and get more leads. But with limited time, bandwidth, and budget, mid-sized technology companies must focus on getting their foundation strategy right before experimenting with other trending tactics. We would recommend beginning with these three actionable tactics:

  • Write high-value content regularly
  • Establish a strong presence on social media
  • Empower the C-level executives to share their opinion on social media and leverage their network

We have created a post-pandemic marketing plan – it outlines a rescue recipe for all kinds of mid-sized technology companies. Read it here

These tactics will take time to show results. But our experience of working with some of the best mid-sized technology companies has demonstrated that with consistency and quality content, companies can even supersede their goals and build a long-term relationship with their customers at a fraction of costs and efforts. 

The Secret Weapons of Online and Social Media Marketing

The Secret Weapons of Online and Social Media Marketing

Marketing channels have evolved a lot – from print, TV, radio, websites, emails, online to now, social media. Today, online marketing and social media have become the most preferred channels for most of the businesses. But as anyone would agree, these are still evolving and many businesses are trying to figure out what works and what does not work for them. Having said that, while it is natural to stick to the commonly used marketing activities such as SEO, email campaigns, paid ads and social media, I always suggest that businesses should be open to explore the newer and powerful avenues too.

In this post, I am going to talk about few such online marketing activities which, when used right, can deliver great results – but unfortunately these are not talked about a lot.

# Webinars

I am a big fan of webinars. Webinars offer a great opportunity to learn from experts – without worrying about geographical boundaries and right from your work station. All you need is good Internet connection and a headset. Hundreds of experts are happy (and many a times, for free) share their expertise and experiences through webinars.
Now let’s talk about it from the business perspective. How can businesses leverage webinars? Well, in many ways –
  1. Customer Webinar – You know your customers love you and are raving fans. They really appreciate your work and you have made a significant difference to their business. Why not invite them to speak about their experiences, their business and their expertise through a webinar? Don’t you think others in the industry will value it? If you host one such webinar, you can reach out to many more prospects from the same industry and invite them to attend it. Since it is a purely educational exercise, you won’t appear salesy but at the same time, you will get an opportunity to reach out to a larger set of audience with something really credible.
  2. Industry Leader Webinar – People always love to hear the views and opinions of the industry leaders/ gurus. They offer industry insights and their opinions are unbiased. You can organize a webinar with an industry leader on a latest topic from your industry (which aligns with your offering) and invite people to attend that. Being associated with an industry leader will go a long way in positioning your business. Remember, I am not talking about being a mere sponsor for such webinar. The webinar should be organized and hosted by you and it should show that you have invited the speaker to speak.
  3. Product Webinar – If you are a company selling software products, then chances are that your sales teams give multiple product demos to the prospects. Why not cut it short by organizing product webinars every week? You can have multiple webinars covering different time zones and different industries. If you organize an industry-specific webinar, it gives you an opportunity to customize the webinar content for that specific industry. Such webinars can be pre-scripted and well thought out. You can build a good scalability in this model by training multiple people for the webinar. Having a fixed schedule displayed on your website will create a good impression in the minds of the prospects. You can also choose to make these webinars interactive by allowing the attendees to ask questions so that you get an opportunity to handle objections.

# Podcasts

Podcasts are small audio bytes popular amongst people who prefer audio over text/ images. There has been a trend of people using their commute time in listening to podcasts.  So what can the podcast be about? Like the webinars, podcasts can be with customers, industry leaders or even with your internal expert team. Pick a theme and record podcasts around it. While I have heard podcasts of 30-40 minutes also, I prefer the shorter podcasts– say around 12-15 minutes at most. What are the advantages from business perspective? Well, many advantages –
  • You get an opportunity to connect with influencers from your industry and be in their eyeline and establish connection with them
  • You get valuable content to share with your target audience. This content be then reused in many ways – through your website, blog, newsletters, email campaigns, and so on and that too on a continuous basis.
  • You get to take a position in the industry as someone who is interested in the latest topics and taking efforts to assist the community through knowledge sharing.

# Influencer Marketing

With social media, it has become easy to connect with anyone. But there is a difference between connection and conversation. If done rightly, you can meaningfully connect with influencers from your industry, engage with them and then take the conversation to next level. Influencer marketing is often misinterpreted as celebrities endorsing your brand. That’s a very superficial way of looking at it. Influencer marketing really means – identify a list of influencers from your industry, map their social presence and interact with them on the platform of their choice. Interaction does not mean asking them to RT your link 😉 Let’s think – Who can be the influencers for you? These are the people who are decision makers in your industry or the people whom you care to connect with. For example: For an organic food store, chefs could be the influencers and for a solar power energy company, possibly the environmentalists could be influencers. You got to identify these and map their social presence – some might be active on Twitter, others might have strong LinkedIn presence. You need to first study that and then engage with them on those platforms. Once you establish a relationship with them, you can take the conversation ahead by requesting them to write a guest blog, invite them for a webinar or record their podcast.

# LinkedIn Groups

Having a profile on LinkedIn does not mean that you are active on LinkedIn. There are many more ways in which you can leverage this powerful platform. LinkedIn groups are very powerful to connect with like-minded people and establish your thought leadership in front of a targeted group of individuals. As a company, you can start your own LinkedIn group around a theme or a topic – note that starting a group in your company name is not useful. The group needs to connect people with similar interests. They should derive value from being part of your group. As an administrator of the group, it is your responsibility to keep the group activity relevant and ongoing. While it is an effort intensive and long term activity, if done well, it can be a brilliant way of creating a community of people with similar interests. In case you are interested to understand this in more detail, here is a great presentation on dynamics of starting and maintaining your own LinkedIn group.

Don’t get  so swamped in doing regular activities that you forget to take advantage of such secret weapons. Always keep  room for growth in your digital marketing plan.

* This post was originally published on YourStory.

40 Ideas To Make your Business Twitter Handle Active

40 Ideas To Make your Business Twitter Handle Active

Twitter website mentions that Twitter has 302 million monthly active users and 500 million Tweets are sent per day! But even today, I very frequently answer questions like “Does Twitter work for businesses?” or “What can a business tweet about?” or “I don’t have time to be on Twitter – it’s for people who have no work”…arghhh…

Anyway, I have made peace with such questions – because I think these are simply because of the unawareness about the platform or the genuine lack of knowledge as to how powerfully businesses can leverage Twitter to connect and engage with prospects and customers.

In this post, I am going to share few ideas which you can use on the Twitter handle for your business –

  1. Link to a YouTube or Vimeo video relevant to your niche
  2. Link to a list of blogs which could be useful for your target audience
  3. A special offer – just for Twitter followers
  4. If there is a glitch in some platform, share it along with the resolution (if you know it)
  5. Connect two people, who you think will value the introductions
  6. Ask a simple question which your followers will like to answer
  7. A link to a new app/ tool you discovered
  8. Review of a new app/ tool – tag the people who you think will especially benefit from it
  9. Inspiring, motivational and relevant quotes –humor works well too!
  10. Link to an interesting presentation on SlideShare
  11. A collation of interesting industry stats
  12. Link to an interesting poll
  13. An infographic (there are tons of ready infographics at Daily Infographic if you don’t have time to create your own infographic)
  14. Behind the scene photos
  15. Access to beta of a new product
  16. Join the ongoing conversations with trending hashtags
  17. Ask feedback on new product
  18. Office photos – don’t forget to tag the employees
  19. A happy customer photo
  20. Recommend a tool which you have found useful for something specific
  21. Share a book if you thought you have benefitted from it
  22. Randomly thank followers for their RTs or Favorites
  23. Exclusive photos of your products
  24. An event you plan to attend
  25. Be part of a Twitter chat
  26. Opinions about current events
  27. If you’re planning to attend a conference, join the conversations through event #hashtag before / during / after event
  28. Logo or website design of the early versions of your product!
  29. Link to a relevant podcast or webinar recording
  30. Random posts like dinner plans or weekend plans – Yes, it’s okay to share it from business handle because it will show that you are a real person
  31. Share popular, trending Reddit topic
  32. Share video testimonial
  33. Post a picture and ask followers to come up with interesting captions for the image
  34. Breaking industry news
  35. Wish your followers on holidays
  36. Offer free eBook
  37. Feature a star employee
  38. Share industry research with your point of view
  39. Humor – cartoons work the best at the start of the day!
  40. Finally, don’t forget to respond to a tag

Got any more to add? Share your ideas through comments.

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Yeah, I made mistakes but…life doesn’t come with instructions.

Sure it does not. But that’s not the case with social media – there is certainly some good advice out there to help you avoid blunders on social media. After all, mistakes are meant for learning and not repeating, right?

So what are some of the common mistakes which companies, especially startups, make while defining and executing their social media strategy? Here is what I have found –

#1 Incorrect Platforms

Agreed – Facebook has 1.44 billion monthly active users (as of Mar 31, 2015). But you can’t have the whole universe as your target audience. In today’s time and age, when everyone is spoilt for choice, the most important marketing decision you need to make is defining the target audience. Targeted marketing is the key of the game – and targeted marketing is by definition exclusionary. You need to clearly define your target audience and once that is done, you need to identify the platforms on which YOUR target audience is active. Remember – nobody searches for a job on Facebook or looks for a Hotel review on LinkedIn. Being present on the most popular platform does not make sense if your target audience is not active there. Here is some quick help when it comes to popular platforms:

Facebook – It’s a good platform when

  • You have highly visual content.
  • You want to leverage the community effect
  • You want to build trust in the minds of the users by leveraging their friends network
  • You are ready to spend on ads – the recent changes in Facebook algorithm have made it very difficult to organically reach out to the fans

Twitter – It is a good platform to

  • Broadcast your message
  • Join the on-going conversations
  • Connect with thought leaders and people that matter to you
  • Build a position for yourself

LinkedIn – Consider using it when

  • You are a B2B company
  • You want to connect with the professional audience and establish your thought leadership within a group of homogeneously targeted audience

Google+ – Good platform to

  • Help you with your SEO efforts
  • Participate in Google communities to connect with like-minded people

Pinterest – You can use it when

  • Your primary target audience include women
  • You have highly visual content to share

These of course are just guidelines. You need to do a more thorough research and brainstorming to finalize the social platforms for your brand.

#2 Doing Too Much or Too Little

Once you choose a social platform, you need to commit to it. Having an inactive presence on any of the platforms creates a bad impression. Having the last tweet date as 2 years back is worse than not having a Twitter handle. You need to show activity on the social platforms and need to have consistency. The opposite is also true – you just can’t do too much. Don’t bombard your LinkedIn company page followers with 10 updates a day just because that will give you more number of impressions!

#3 Ignoring Content Marketing

Content marketing is the gasoline of your social media efforts. You need to have good blog articles to showcase your expertise. You need interesting infographics to share with your audience. eBooks are good to share as a free giveaway. Whitepapers are excellent way of establishing your thought leadership. You need content. Period. Just don’t ignore it from your social media strategy. Not having enough bandwidth to create content cannot be an excuse today.  

#4 Inappropriate Content or Self Promotion

Each platform has different content need. Don’t make the mistake of pushing the same content on all the platforms just because there are tools available which allow you to do so. Each platform requires different tone of messaging and different type of content. More importantly, you also need to mind the timing of your updates. Your audience is not going to be present on all the platforms at the same time. Social media does require some serious time and attention commitment and it demands that. Don’t get away with easy options of auto schedule without giving it a serious thought or having a proper plan in place. Another thing to keep an eye on is the type of content you share. Too much of self-promotion is a big turn-off. Just because you are excited about your product or services does not mean that you can talk about it all day long. Have a good balance of education, industry insights, engagement, and self-promotion in your content sharing. 

#5 No Personal Branding

People relate with people – and this is especially true for startups where people are buying the services from the founders more than from the company. So it is important that startups include the personal branding of their founders in their social media planning and strategy. You need a face for your company.

Personal Branding
Photo Courtesy: http://bit.ly/1P0yIp6

#6 Canned Responses to Negative Comments

Lot of companies shy away from social media because of the fear of negative comments. But note that negative comments are in-fact good opportunities for you to build trust in the minds of your readers. Read more about it here. One of the foremost thing you need to remember while handling negative comments on the social platform is that you should NEVER give a canned response to any negative comment. Be personal and show genuine interest in solving the problem. Acknowledge the issue, take genuine actions to resolve it. If the there is a mistake, accept it and take all efforts to resolve it. Check this example here from Zappos – simply brilliant. Isn’t it?

Photo Courtesy- http://bit.ly/1dNplZm

#7 Not aligning with the target audience in terms of tone and messaging

Try and align as much as you can with your target audience – if you are targeting the youth, introduce some quirkiness in your overall messaging. If you are targeting CXOs, maintain a professional tone. Just make sure that your marketing tone matches with your company culture. After all, today, marketing is no more the job of marketing department only. It is the job of each and every person representing the company. Here is a latest brilliant example of this –


Do share your experience on what worked and what did not work for you. It’s all about sharing knowledge, isn’t it?

This article was originally published at YourStory.