White paper: 4 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

The B2B landscape is shifting. Here’s why leading tech and telco brands are betting on digital audio.

Shifts in B2B marketing aren’t new. As new generations advance in the workforce, the profile of the business owner is changing. More millennials are stepping into executive roles, with higher expectations of their workplace technology than previous generations. And digitally savvy end users have more influence on IT buying decisions than ever.

But 2020 accelerated these trends — and shaped new ones. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced an industry that relies on in-person networking to make business completely digital. Company tech policies and resourcing quickly shifted to support WFH life. Flexible working is making workforces less hierarchical. In 2021 and beyond, that means the B2B audience is no longer just c-suite decision makers. It’s also a new generation of workers, who toggle seamlessly between work and play on the same devices. And when it comes to enterprise tech buying decisions, they expect their voices to be heard.

I’ve written before about the new challenges tech and telco brands face, and how digital audio can solve them. In Spotify and WARC’s latest study, we spoke with CMOs from leading tech and telco brands and surveyed hundreds of B2B marketers across North America and Europe. We discovered four major shifts brands can expect in 2021, and why streaming audio is a more influential B2B marketing channel than ever.

Here’s a quick look at what we found. Download the full report below to learn even more.

1. Disruption is driving shifts in strategy.

From the massive shift to digital after the loss of live events and in-person meetings to the rise of screen fatigue, it’s critical for B2B brands to understand their customers’ new and evolving needs. One of their biggest needs? Media that helps alleviate screen fatigue, like podcasts and streaming audio.

Everybody’s got Zoom fatigue, and just doing your typical B2B marketing isn’t really going to pay off. So now is the time to experiment.

Corinne Skylar

Chief Marketing Officer, IBM iX

2. There’s a crucial new generation of B2B audiences.

Meet the next generation of millennial B2B marketers. They have blurred boundaries between work and home life. Their careers and identities are closely linked, with an emphasis on constant self-improvement. As leaders, they have high expectations for enterprise tech partners. As employees, they expect to have a voice in IT buying decisions.

  • 83%

    of tech and telco marketers agree that employees have a strong voice in decisions on tech and telco services, providers, or partnerships.

    Source: Spotify/WARC, “Changing Channels in B2B: Shifting strategies in tech and telco marketing,” November 2020, US, CA, BR, MX, UK, IT, DE, FR, ES, IN

The bottom line for marketers: A new B2B audience calls for new ways of reaching them. The young, tech-savvy employee moves seamlessly between their professional and personal lives on their devices. And for many, Spotify is their constant companion. Spotify Free listeners spend 2.5 hours streaming across devices every day, giving you many opportunities to connect with them while they stream their favorite podcasts or playlists.

3. Immersive formats can drive further reach.

Rich experiences, whether in-depth or bite-sized, are the best ways to cut through digital fatigue. Increasingly popular formats like podcasts can tell a more complex, compelling story to a leaned-in listener who’s loyal to their favorite shows.

  • 56%

    of B2B marketers expect to increase spend on podcasts.

    Source: Spotify/WARC, “Changing Channels in B2B: Shifting strategies in tech and telco marketing,” November 2020, Global

4. Leaning into creativity and brand-building is key.

Speaking of podcasts: They’re a powerful brand-building tool. Our sample of B2B marketers agreed that creativity and brand-building are key focus areas in 2021. Brands are getting more inspiration from B2C tactics, leaning on social, video on-demand, and streaming audio to build loyal audiences and make emotional connections.

I see podcasts working well when they are less about sales and more about showing empathy towards customers.

Govindaraj Avasarala

Head of Enterprise Marketing, Vodafone Idea

Download the white paper to learn more about these major shifts in B2B marketing — and why streaming audio is along for the ride.

Download the white paper to learn more

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