In our 2023 survey of business-to-education (B2E) marketers, we asked respondents how their marketing has changed as a result of the pandemic, and which new practices they adopted during COVID have become part of the “new normal” moving forward. Here are three key lessons from the results that will help you make important decisions in 2023 and beyond.
1. Marketers are now more judicious about their travel.
In our survey, we found that companies innovated early on in the pandemic by pivoting to webinars and online “lunch and learns” as a replacement for in-person sales calls — and many of these practices will continue long after COVID is gone.
It’s not that travel and in-person meetings have disappeared. In fact, our survey revealed these practices have returned in a big way: 83% of respondents said they physically attended at least one education conference in 2022, and 92% said they plan on attending education conferences and events in 2023. If you’re among the 92% planning to attend events this year, check out the CB&A blog post, Tips for Having Productive Conversations at Education Conferences.
However, our survey also suggests that as online meetings and events have become well-established practices, B2E marketers have become more strategic about which events they choose to attend in person and when it makes sense to meet face to face vs. online.
For instance, one respondent said they now hold “lunch and learn” video sessions with new prospects and save face-to-face meetings for closing sales. Another respondent told us: “We are relying more on online and high-ROI events, rather than [attending] every event.”
2. Marketers have become more multidimensional in their strategy.
When travel and face-to-face meetings were suspended in early 2020, it became more challenging for education marketers to reach their intended audiences. This forced marketers to expand the range of content types and platforms they were using to reach potential buyers.
Now that COVID is largely in the rear-view mirror, marketers continue to utilize a broad range of modes and channels for their messaging, having realized that a multidimensional strategy helps them reach more prospects in more places.
As one respondent told us, “We’re focusing … less on static content presented one-dimensionally” — and they’re seeing better outcomes as a result.
3. COVID forced marketers to double down on common-sense practices.
If there’s one lesson from the pandemic that stands above the others, it’s that highly effective practices work regardless of the circumstances.
As it became harder to reach customers and prospects, B2E marketers were forced to think carefully about their methods.
Education marketers had to focus on building relationships with people online and through email. They had to clarify their mission and their message. They had to communicate empathy and be laser-focused on their customers’ needs. They had to adapt and innovate.
When we asked B2E marketers how their practices have changed since COVID, “we are far more focused” was a common refrain.
“Our content has become more consumer-oriented and less about us,” one person wrote. Another said: “We have simplified our message via email.”
These are smart marketing strategies for any era. A silver lining from the pandemic is that it prompted a shift toward more common-sense practices that will position companies for greater success moving forward, whatever twists and turns the future may bring.
For more key insights from our 2023 B2E marketing survey, download the full report here.