With 2020 behind us, businesses are looking forward to determine the near accurate definition of the ‘new normal’ everyone has been talking about since the pandemic crisis peaked. As vaccines begin to trickle down the supply chain and situation becomes ‘normal-esque’, it is safe to say that digital marketing, Search Engine Optimization or SEO in particular, is expected gain more focus, especially for B2B companies in 2021.

2020 hit marketing strategies like a tsunami

All the transpired in 2020, swept the ground from under the entire humanity. Barring technology-based and life sciences businesses, almost every business was badly affected. Particularly, the small to medium businesses. B2B businesses were no different and their dependence on traditional marketing methods were exposed. Make no mistake, every marketing strategy got affected. Every well-thought out tactic, channel mix and budgeting went out of the window. Some of the key drivers for such a change were:


Traditional marketing became less effective and relevant

Till the end of 2019 and early 2020, traditional marketing like TV or radio advertising, newspaper/magazine ads, outdoor placements (exhibitions, billboards etc.) continued to attract the marketing dollars. This was primarily because of their established execution and pricing models. The pandemic crisis almost entirely rendered these medium less effective and relevant. The associated high cost impacting affordability, estimation-based KPIs, and geographical limitations became prominent drawbacks.


Marketing budgets witnessed major cutbacks

According to Moz’s latest report ‘The State of Local SEO Industry Report 2020’, 70% of marketers reported marketing budgets being cut as a result of COVID-19. Such a response by businesses was expected with no clear line of sight on how, and more importantly by when, things will look when all the dust settled. We expect this to continue in 2021 with businesses keeping a tight grip on their wallets.


2020 marketing strategies went for a toss, including digital

Coronavirus topped the Searches and News categories on Google Search in 2020 (as per See what was trending in 2020 by Google Trends). Again, nothing out of the ordinary here. With the pandemic dominating the conversations on the Internet throughout 2020, every business-related keyword, hashtag, search, ad and website traffic took a hit.
While the impact was different for every industry and company, business strategy including overall and digital marketing was turned upside down.


Key learnings for B2B marketing till we re-discover the new paradigm


B2B products and services will continue to grow

Companies still require B2B products and services providers for their core expertise and agility. There might be pressure on pricing, but that does not question the relevance of these products and services. Delivery models have also been changed, surely to bring better value to all stakeholders.


B2B sales cycle has not significantly changed

B2B sales cycles can range from anywhere between 3 to 6 months, give or take. Some may have longer or shorter cycles, too. This means that the need to nurture customers remains crucial, more so in the current business environment.


Content marketing is here to stay

Content marketing sits at the very heart of B2B marketing and there is no debate about it. Creating a pillar content and re-purposing it in consumable chunks will continue to play a pivotal role.


Digital marketing became important for B2B companies, and will remain so

B2B companies that relied heavily on word of mouth and other traditional methods of customer outreach, learned their lesson the hard way. They struggled with customer acquisition and witnessed flat revenue growth. Forced to adopt digital marketing – whether for the first time or not – most did not get full value for their dollar spend.

Those who sort of discovered or realized the importance of digital marketing in 2020 need to build out a robust marketing strategy with digital at its heart.


SEO will continue to deliver on its promises for B2B companies

Along with content marketing and social media marketing, SEO has remained at the core of digital marketing strategies over the years. There is no argument that can be made against the power of search engine page rankings or SERPs from a business discovery, brand building and customer acquisition perspective. As Google’s influence increases on the Internet, the importance of SEO will follow that trajectory.


B2B marketing budget spends are likely to focus heavily on organic customer acquisition

We are not completely out of the woods with the pandemic yet. What that means is that businesses must consider organic tactics to attract potential customers.

Consider this metric: Google Search algorithm has about 200 parameters that influence where a particular web page would rank on a keyword search. Now answer this question: Would you pay, say $1 per keyword, for each of those 200 parameters (assuming Google shares them with public) for the entire year?

We both know the answer to this question. This does not means running pay per click or PPC ads is not relevant. It means that B2B companies must focus on a smart SEO strategy that help them rank higher on relevant keywords in the medium to long term.


This will help them with:

  • Becoming discover-able to a wider audience across varied yet targeted search terms.
  • Leveraging their content to build a Thought Leadership position.
  • Help prospects and customers move down the sales funnel faster, thereby pacing the sales cycle.
  • Building and growing a steady website traffic to their website.
  • Retain and nurture the website visitors to build a brand with strong foundational search-ability based on sound technical SEO tactics.