8 top trends and the challenges 2023
B2B marketing will face new tasks and challenges in 2023. In a survey of experts, the B2B marketing portal marconomy has identified topics and strategies that will be relevant for B2B marketers and trend experts in 2023. The German Association of Industrial Communications (bvik) has also published theses on trends in B2B marketing, based on an online survey of almost 240 B2B marketers. The resulting trends and challenges for 2023 are summarized below and supplemented by expert opinions.
Top trend 1
95% of respondents believe that professional and honest internal communication will lead to decisive competitive advantages. Trust and confidence are important factors for productivity, motivation and subsequently also in the external image. The quality of internal communication is a basic requirement for competitiveness – qualified and motivated professionals are the prerequisite for this.
Communication as an anchor in crisis
Matthias Bauer, CEO of Vogel Communications Group GmbH & Co. KG:
Following crisis events such as the Covid 19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, companies are saying goodbye to the prospect of a crisis-free world. In order for a business to deal confidently with this upheaval, it is necessary to have simple, smooth communication, both internally and in contact with customers. Only in this way can a sustainable and stable transformation of value communication succeed during times of crisis.
The constant in turbulent times: Communication
Dr. Jochen Kalka, Member of the Management Board of schoesslers GmbH:
In unpredictable times like the Covid 19 pandemic, inflation and fluctuating stock market value, internal company communication is the most important variable for stability and trust. Meeting employees at eye level and keeping them informed about fluctuations and changes is key to successfully nurturing talent and relationships. External communication is also gaining in value: information about changing services and approaches to solutions makes a company a trustworthy business partner.
Top trend 2
Interdepartmental collaboration between HR & Marketing in the area of “Employer Branding” is becoming standard in B2B. This trend indicates a process – but in some companies, HR and marketing collaboration still seems far apart.
Hospitation – a widely underestimated success factor
Stephan Hellwig, Marketing Manager of OPED GmbH:
Due to constantly changing customer behavior and the rapid dynamics of the market, effective and market-oriented decisions are essential for companies. Mutual understanding between and within the individual company departments is essential for the success of the entire company. In order to deepen this understanding, job shadowing and job rotations are suitable. Future managers should thus enable their companies to develop cross-functional career paths.
Employer branding needs authenticity before strategy
Stephanie Krüger, Head of Talent Acquisition bei HRtbeat GmbH, sees authenticity in particular as the key to successful employer branding. In order to create a valuable and authentic employer brand, companies are expected to have a clear positioning in 2023 in order to create awareness of the values they represent. The people around the company should be understood as the most important part of the corporate identity. This is the only way to attract and retain employees.
Top trend 3
Alternative data qualification will become a decisive competitive advantage. Due to changing framework conditions (e.g., Google Analytics ban), it will be necessary to develop measures and procedures to obtain and qualify relevant data outside of previous data sources that may no longer be available in the future.
Top trend 4
Professional and credible sustainability communication becomes another key differentiating factor. Sustainability has long been a significant topic, but has not been communicated so prominently in the B2B sector. Professionalism and credibility of sustainability communication are strongly required in order not to be perceived negatively in the context of greenwashing.
Top trend 5
Data-driven marketing is becoming a decisive success factor. Personalized marketing based on user data will establish itself in B2B in the next three years. Data collection, management and protection will be a challenge.
B2B market research as a growth engine in uncertain times
Bettina Kriegl, Research Consultant at Vogel Communications Group GmbH & Co. KG:
In order to be successful in the market in 2023, companies are extremely dependent on observing it closely. In order to adapt as quickly as possible to the people behind the companies and to their target group, a deeper understanding of cultural changes and changing expectations is helpful. Market research provides information about customer opinions and new trends and thus offers a great opportunity for a target-oriented communication and marketing strategy.
Tracking will be a top issue in 2023
Sandro Günther, CEO of Werbeboten Media GmbH:
In order to continue to successfully monitor advertising success, it will become increasingly important for companies to address the issues of serverside tracking and alternatives such as “cookieless ads”. Customized data strategies and marketing automation will become increasingly important for B2B marketers and thus a highly relevant trend for the coming year.
Top trend 6
Personalized marketing based on user data is becoming the standard. So far, this is more of a wish, because in the view of those surveyed, marketing faces an immense challenge here, especially with regard to the issue of data protection.
Keeping an eye on the legal situation of data protection
Ludwig Schmidt, Director Corporate Governance at Vogel Communications Group GmbH & Co. KG:
In 2023, data protection will continue to play a central role in the market. In order not to lose their footing, companies are advised to always keep their eyes open for changing requirements and legal rulings. For a better assessment, so-called sparring partners can be hired for this purpose, who keep an eye on the current legal situation and can assess it for the company’s individual requirements.
Automate, customize, integrate
Gabriele Geiger, owner of assemdee marketing consultancy:
In 2023, customers will expect individualized information tailored to their needs. The following applies here: If the degree of automation increases, individualization becomes all the more important. Companies are therefore focusing on authentic and transparent communication both online and offline. This requires functional collaboration between marketing and sales.
Top trend 7
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming increasingly important in B2B marketing. ABM has evolved from key account marketing since the mid-2010s. The topic has gained relevance compared to previous years and intensifies the cooperation between marketing and sales. However, ABM has to be considered target group or industry specific and is therefore not suitable for every company.
Content marketing as a growth driver by strengthening the marketing team
Prof. Dr. Carolin Durst, Professor of Digital Marketing at Ansbach University of Applied Sciences:
Companies will invest more in human resources in the future in order to be able to achieve the desired effect of content marketing. A targeted strategy is also important: keyword analyses, customer insights, more customer contact and specific target group knowledge are the most important keywords for the marketing team.
Integrated lead management
Norbert Schuster, Managing Director of strike2 GmbH:
To be able to use the potential of leads efficiently and in a targeted manner, companies must integrate systems in lead management simply, quickly and flexibly. The transfer of leads between sales and marketing should be defined and strongly anchored here and not transferred to rigid connectors. The integration of systems with iPaaS integration platforms can significantly increase success in lead management.
Top trend 8
Video content for social platforms is moving into focus in B2B content marketing. Video clips are interesting for all age groups, not just young people. A creative visual language can present the brand/company in a positive light. The target group- and network-appropriate use of channels is still seen as a major challenge in the B2B sector.
Challenge: Corporate influencers (brand ambassadors) are an essential part of the marketing communication strategy. Content from users has a significantly higher relevance for the algorithm of social media platforms. Employees who communicate corporate topics in their own digital channels to support the achievement of operational goals have only partially arrived in B2B – further analysis will be necessary here.
Upgrade to social media on the priority list of B2B companies
Torben Fangmann, Head of Strategic Marketing and Business Development at LMZ Lenkering:
In 2023, companies that rely on social media and influencers will prevail. For too long, the market leadership has produced impersonal content that misses the core of business networks: an upgrade of social media use by companies is necessary and will be prioritized in the future.
Recruiting on TikTok – B2B must catch up
Rainer Grill, Head of Public Relations at ZIEHLABEGG SE:
In the coming year, the social media platform TikTok will be important for companies to stay relevant in recruiting. The constantly growing reach of the omnipresent medium will not stop in 2023. Specialist recruiting via TikTok is thus a real option for the future.
Challange: The metaverse will have a significant impact on B2B live communication. Currently, many respondents are still critical of the metaverse in the B2B context. The use of a digital space in which people are represented by a virtual avatar and interact with each other exists, for example, in the online gaming community. For the B2B sector, possible fields of application and the benefits are still diffuse, but interesting examples, such as the digital showroom or product presentations, already exist.
The future resides in the metaverse
Nik Ruangroj, Head of Brand Marketing and Brand Development at WEPA Professional GmbH:
AI-based ads and acquiring spaces in the metaverse will become increasingly important this year. This offers companies new opportunities for online marketing, which can increase the purchase offer, especially in the B2B area. In Asia, these technologies have already been used for several years and are now spreading to Europe.
Further important aspects of B2B marketing in 2023
Cooperation between marketing and sales
Marketing and sales merge in the sales strategy
Prof. Dr. Jan Wieseke, Professor of Sales Management at the Ruhr University Bochum:
In order to find new business models and implement them effectively in the face of high market turbulence and a low willingness to pay, companies will be faced with so-called “sales strategies” in 2023. The innovative business model closely interlinks the Sales and Strategy departments and integrates deputies to a greater extent. This allows them to act at eye level and achieve a more balanced distribution of power.
Turning customers into fans – the cooperation of marketing and sales
Markus Batta, Head of Marketing and Product Management at Hermann Sewerin GmbH:
Close and functional cooperation between sales and marketing is the prerequisite for successful campaigns and economic success. Through close dovetailing, the various areas contribute with their strengths to the success of the company in the best possible way. Optimizing customer contact should be the main focus of all departments involved in the future.
Best-of-Breed: Benefiting from Integration
Martin Philipp, Managing Director of Evalanche (SCNetworks GmbH):
The integration capability of a company depends on a future-proof software solution. At best, these should be built according to the best-of-breed idea in order to optimally and smoothly dovetail marketing and sales. With the help of a complementary linking of a wide variety of channels and touchpoints, a future-proof 360-degree customer communication can be created.
The B2B Lead Management Checklist 2023
Alexander Honeck, Head of Digital Marketing at LANXESS Deutschland GmbH:
Before companies can acquire new customers via digital channels, several steps must be taken. A good interaction with the marketing department is crucial for a short contact time between the sales department and potential new customers. Smooth cooperation is just as important as target group-oriented ads and choosing the right lead magnet.
Rethinking marketing and sales
Markus Seydaack, Sales Manager at EMUGE-Werk Richard Glimpel GmbH & Co. KG:
In 2023, a new perspective on the distribution of roles and work will determine the success of a company’s sales and marketing departments. Here, marketing sees its employees as individual personal brands and brand ambassadors and creates content that is appropriate for the business. This content is then integrated on social media for effective 360-degree customer communication. This creates a modern and hybrid customer journey.
Flexibility has a fixed role in B2B marketing
Yannick Fasters, Project Manager Tribe Excellence & Performance at Thyssenkrupp Materials Services:
In order to be able to guarantee coordinated cooperation within the company, even during times of planning uncertainty, flexibility will be the focus in the future. In this way, it will be possible to react agilely to market events and release and coordination processes will not be unnecessarily protracted.
The future of marketing is agile
Jenny Gruner, Director Global Marketing at Hapag-Lloyd AG:
To adapt optimally to the ever-changing customer requirements and remain relevant in the constantly changing market, an efficient and, above all, agile work organization is a top priority. Spontaneous marketing planning guarantees the fastest possible reaction and adaptation speed. These are essential for an agile future of marketing.
Cross-media customer journeys
Tina Schäfer, Managing Director of Vogel Corporate Solutions GmbH:
From the perspective of B2B communication and industry, 2023 will be the year of orientation and focus. Uncertainties in the coming years make good brand communication essential for companies. A more cross-media customer journey should enable a stable and authentic brand.
More specific B2B brand communication
Dr. Dennis Vogt, Lecturer in Marketing and Consumer Behavior at the University of St. Gallen:
Due to an increasingly short attention span of customers, it is essential for the success of a company to stand out from the competition. In order to create enthusiasm, methods are used that successfully address the target group. The added value of the product should be highlighted and visualized in a striking and effective way.
2023 focus on social selling
Prof. Dr. Philipp Schmid, Professor Business Development and Sales, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Kempten University of Applied Sciences:
In 2023, the same demands will be placed on social selling in terms of measurability and revenue as on a trade show appearance or a customer visit. This will require critical questioning of companies’ investments and tools. Since conventional methods of customer retention and new acquisition are once again possible, it is all the more important to redefine and, if necessary, adapt the sales strategy.
Social selling is gaining in importance
Matthias Haberler, Head of Product Management and B2B Workspace Marketing at Canon Austria GmbH:
Social selling has become increasingly important for companies in recent years and will come to the fore in 2023. Companies are advised to achieve social credibility through strategic integration of social media. Interaction with the community is crucial here, because it creates trust.
Digital experiences in B2B more important than ever
Tushar Marwaha, Commercial Director DACH at Ibexa:
By 2025, around 80% of B2B sales interactions between supplier and buyer will take place digitally. To be able to guarantee customers a digital and seamless buying experience, a combination of omni-channel approach and customer experience can support companies. This requires an integration of ERP and CRM into the e-commerce system.
The one-stop store is the future of B2B commerce
Denis Wiegel, Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing Industrial at Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG:
In the future, companies will rely on a central hub strategy and a seamless transfer of information between marketing and sales in order to offer customers decisive added value and thus make their daily work easier. Creating a platform that meets customer as well as marketing and sales needs not only saves time and resources, but also provides a competitive sales tool for customer satisfaction.
Marketing transformation mindset replaces traditional sales structures
Susanne Trautmann, Founder of Marketing Canvas:
Digital will become the norm in 2023. In order to move forward proactively as a transformation companion, digital communication and a well thought-out social media strategy are the be-all and end-all for B2B companies. The focus here is on individual and personal communication with customers, because this is the only way a company can gain digital authenticity.
Besides creativity, willpower also counts
Thomas Brückle, Head of Marketing at Geberit Vertriebs GmbH:
As a consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic, physical trade shows and business events are struggling with a flood of cancellations. At the same time, the alternative, online-only program that was still popular during the crisis is also losing interest. The desire for a hybrid offering by companies, to which the service industry has already extensively adapted, is growing daily. This calls for fast, creative conversion on the part of the companies.
International B2B marketing
Nils Horstmann, Founder and Managing Director of eviom GmbH:
Globalization and the international networking of companies is and remains an important topic. The right corporate strategies and the adaptation of existing processes to local markets are important in order to successfully open up new countries and markets. Intercultural competencies in B2B communication are of enormous importance for this.
Content (R)evolution thanks to situational content marketing (SCM)
Olaf Mörk, Director Marketing at Mörketing:
For successful content marketing in 2023, the focus will be on situational content marketing (SCM). Classic content marketing is losing importance and hardly reaches the target group. To achieve greater relevance, visibility in search engines is essential. This is the only way to increase a company’s sales in the future.
Top issues in 2023: CRO, EB und RCC
Prof. Dr. Uwe Seebacher, Professor of Predictive Intelligence at Munich University of Applied Sciences:
Conversation Rate Optimization (CRO), Employer Branding (EP), and Reengineering Corporate Communication (RCC) are highly relevant keywords for b2B companies in 2023. In order to transform from 1-2-1 communication to All-2-All interaction, a transformation of the internal communication strategy of companies is necessary. The focus should be on digitization and automation. Only in this way can companies protect themselves sustainably and optimally manage potential risks.