Without conferences and business travel, B2B marketers have shifted to different strategies, like demand generation and account-based marketing. In a discussion for the How Agencies Thrive podcast, Rob Bridgens from Reflect Digital, and Brandon Langevin from StackAdapt discuss how B2B has embraced new digital marketing tactics.

They touch on what the unprecedented shift in B2B has looked like, and the positive impact it’s had on the way companies interact with one another. Read on to learn three of their key insights, or listen to their discussion, here.

The Pandemic Changed B2B Digital Marketing

The pandemic brought big changes and uncertainty to B2B marketing, especially with marketers adjusting to working from home. Working remotely meant that strategy when executing B2B had to change to accurately identify the right audience—without in-person interactions.

According to Rob, many marketers believed that the pandemic would have a detrimental impact on B2B. With the lack of in-person events, advertisers using audience-based tech, like geo radius targeting, took quite a hit. Any campaign that focused on location for the main targeting tactic was impacted because people were no longer in offices, restaurants, and meeting spaces.

As a result, many clients paused their campaigns at the start of the pandemic. But once the dust had settled, budgets that had been earmarked for in-person events were opening up. Clients began re-allocating that budget toward testing new strategies, like virtual events.

Rob and Brandon say that the last 18 months have ultimately brought significant, and positive changes. B2B marketers have leaned into innovation, and identified new ways to generate volume for new audience acquisition. Although Rob and Brandon don’t expect that B2B marketing will ever revert back to exactly how things were pre-pandemic, the new solutions that have emerged will continue to drive results as the world transitions into a new normal.

Create Empathetic Campaigns, and Nurture

The pandemic has emphasized how important it is to take a step back and look at the audiences being targeted as people rather than just prospects and leads. Acknowledging that you’re targeting real people is especially key in times of change or crisis. Gathering insight into who an audience is, beyond their professional role, helps marketers better communicate the product they’re trying to market. Right now, the pandemic has disrupted people’s lives, and this factors into who audiences are.

Rob says that with pandemic restrictions differing across regions, it isn’t possible to directly address them. But, you can use an empathetic tone and messaging in approaching people. Prior to the pandemic, B2B marketing focused on sharing facts, figures, costs, reviews, and other rational information that prospects are looking for. But now, Rob says that more emotional ads have taken a front seat. He’s found that ads in which people address safety, the importance of community, and other empathetic messages, have had a bigger impact in the last 18 months.

The Rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

A recent survey by eMarketer found that 74% of people say that account-based marketing has become a critical part of their marketing mix, and Brandon and Rob both agree. Brandon says that custom profiles enable marketing and sales teams to coordinate, and drive toward the same goal. With account-based marketing, you can tailor your ad messages to align with the exact audience you would like to reach. While account-based marketing is an effective tactic, Brandon emphasizes that you shouldn’t overlook wider and more generic audiences. Being visible in the broader marketplace is an important piece to defining your target audience.

According to Brandon, sometimes clients will have an idea of who their audience is, but then find at the end of a campaign that the people they thought were their audience aren’t actually the demographic that’s buying their product. Targeting more broad and general audiences can help marketers better understand the audience that is interested in your product or service. Rather than going fully into account-based marketing, strike a balance between account-based and broader campaigns. Using them in tandem often yields positive results, says Brandon.