With the rise of AI and automation technologies, marketing is changing quicker than ever. Marketing budgets are increasingly under the microscope, and marketers must streamline processes, improve efficiency, and prove ROI at every step.

HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report 2024 looks at marketing in the age of intelligence and highlights some of the top trends marketers can expect to see making an impact this year. Based on data from both B2C and B2B organisations, we’ve pulled out some of the most interesting insights for B2B marketers.

Personalisation is key

Competition is fierce, and capturing the ever-decreasing attention of your audience is essential. Marketers must focus on the end-user at every step of the buying journey, crafting content and campaigns personalised to the individual buyer.

Whether this is using dynamic emails to alter content based on actions or delivering super-targeted LinkedIn campaigns, taking the extra step to personalise might make all the difference in converting leads.

In fact, 96% of marketers stated that personalisation led to repeat business, and 94% said that it helped increase sales in 2023.

There’s no denying that personalisation is an effective and important tactic. However, there is still work to be done, as only 33% of respondents felt that their customers currently get a very personalised experience with their brand.

There are ways to address this, and marketers should be using new tools to streamline the personalisation process. For example, generative AI can help to learn more about your audience, their needs and how best to group them. While tools like Turtl can help marketers personalise on a mass scale.

Go beyond simple bulk email sends

Email is the basis of many marketing campaigns, and Hubspot states that email marketing is tied second place as the channel that provides the highest ROI. However, it is no longer enough to simply personalise first names, and with both AI and marketing automation platforms in use, marketers can deliver personalised campaigns at scale without the labour-intensive set-up.

Litmus users have seen a 52% increase in conversions with dynamic content personalisation, with some companies seeing as high as a 44% increase in email-driven sales. Marketers have been personalising with dynamic content via tactics such as:

  • Adjusting subject lines and copy based on past actions and purchases
  • Selecting images relevant to the customers’ interests
  • Localising content based on the customers’ location and language

Dynamic emails are an effective way to manage the set-up of large-scale personalised email campaigns. We have found dynamic content particularly effective when setting up multi-language campaigns, adding dynamic subject lines, headings and body text for each language. Even small adjustments to email content and design can make a big impact on how the audience responds to it, and experimenting with dynamic content is a great way to get started with personalisation.

Increase engagement with video

Video is a fantastic way to engage with audiences, and marketers have been focusing on short-form content for TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Short-form content has the highest ROI and will see the most growth in 2024.

Although short-form content might not seem the right fit for B2B companies, video provides an excellent platform to explain technical subjects in a visually interesting way. Video is also a great way to repurpose content such as blog posts, podcasts and case studies. The key to success is to build a strong video strategy and optimise brand videos with keywords.

Data, privacy and a cookieless future

Reliance on third-party cookies is extremely high, with 81% of marketers stating that their marketing activities rely on them to some extent and 84% of marketers saying Google’s phased withdrawal of third-party cookies is a key concern.

As a result, marketers are turning to collecting first-party data provided by the customers themselves. But how can you gather this information? Email is a great place to start as most data points gathered by email and form-fills are provided by the customers themselves.

HubSpot provided some tips, suggesting the following tactics to build first-party data into your data strategy:

  • Review your current data and identify what you still need
  • Determine which data points you need to prioritize
  • Keep your data collection simple
  • Set data priorities based on your current database

Don’t forget, there are also techniques such as progressive profiling, which can allow companies to gather data in small increments to build relevant and valuable profiles of customers in order to be able to tailor communications effectively.

Get on the AI train

There is no escaping AI – it’s quickly become an important tool for many businesses. In fact, the report revealed that 64% of marketers use AI and automation to support their day-to-day activities, and 84% felt that AI tools have enhanced efficiency in creating content.

Although there’s no denying that AI can support content generation, with 82% using AI to produce ‘significantly more content’, there are still several drawbacks to using these tools and marketers should still be proofing and editing these pieces to ensure high-quality content which keeps tone of voice and maintains brand integrity.

This seems to be the consensus across the landscape, with 60% of marketers who use generative AI to make content, are concerned that it could harm their brand’s reputation due to bias, plagiarism or misalignment with brand values. This is even more relevant in technology industries, where AI introduces the risk of inputting inaccurate information into content pieces or producing what is quite typically seen as ‘bland’ content.

It seems that the value of generative AI lies within the ideas and inspiration capabilities, with 45% of respondents using tools for this use, compared to a low 6% using it to write content.

Content generation support isn’t the only focus for marketers, with 33% stating that the most successful use case for AI is research, and 20% are focused on using AI to primarily take over menial tasks. In fact, with the use of AI, marketers can save 2.5 hours on manual, administrative and operational tasks, freeing up time for more creative and innovative work.

AI is definitely something that should be embraced as a valuable tool, but treated with caution. We’re already seeing where the most value of AI lies, and it’ll be interesting to see how this continues to play out in the second half of 2024.

Sales enablement – teamwork makes the dream work

Marketing and sales teams often work in isolation from each other, despite ultimately having the same goal – driving sales and revenue. Only 35% of marketers say their sales and marketing teams are strongly aligned. By connecting teams together with data and tools, businesses can overcome this disconnection, align KPIs and deliver a better experience to the customer throughout their buying journey.

One tool that can be essential to support this alignment is a CRM. More than half of marketers found that their CRM became more important in 2023, and marketing teams using CRMs are 128% more likely to report having an effective marketing strategy.

The report revealed that marketers with a ‘single source of truth’ are 56% more likely to be strongly aligned with their sales teams and 26% stated that their marketing strategy this year was more effective compared to those who aren’t aligned.

It’s a common challenge within B2B businesses to align sales and marketing. But there’s no denying the rewards and results that can be achieved when alignment is in place.

To conclude

The marketing landscape is changing rapidly, with no sign of slowing down. The shift in technology is having a big impact on how businesses operate, and marketers must adapt to keep up with competition and build better customer experiences. The most successful companies are investing in the right tools and processes to drive growth whilst also increasing efficiency to allow for creativity and innovation.

 

For further information, download your copy of the report here: HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report 2024