Several noteworthy swells are forming in the wide ocean of B2B marketing this year, and you’d do well to pay attention to them. One could very well be the wave you catch that brings you to more growth and better ROI.
Keep an eye on these B2B marketing trends that are picking up momentum now so you’ll be able to ride them to shore when the time is right.
The Mobile-1st Mentality
Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. adult population now owns a smartphone and nearly half own a tablet. Mobile devices are becoming the go-to screen of choice for many business leaders to check email, browse the web, conduct research and communicate. It’s essential for your marketing to meet prospects and clients where they are– and increasingly that’s on a tablet or smartphone.
Obviously the mobile-first mindset concerns your website. Having a responsive website in 2015 is an imperative; not an option. But it really goes far beyond the pages of your site.
A mobile-first mentality affects every facet of your marketing strategy and involves viewing all your marketing efforts through a mobile lens. Many B2B firms already have a strong brand or great content, but they don’t necessarily have the technology and talent in place to deliver a mobile experience.
Moving forward, if you expect your audience to engage with your firm, improving the mobile experience has to be a priority. If you lack the manpower and expertise to make it happen, start looking now or bring in mobile staffing talent to fill the game.
1-to-1 Targeting and Customization
Microtargeting is another trend that’s been generating a lot of buzz that I’ve noticed as B2B marketing recruiter. It’s all about drawing from data and analytics to better understand your target audience– and responding in real-time with targeted messaging and content personalized to their environment. When used effectively it improves the client journey through more targeted and relevant 1-to-1 interactions.
In B2B marketing, this means adopting a much more individualized approach to your content and building relationships.
While many B2B firms have been leveraging client persona profiles for their marketing strategies, 2015 will see a push for more comprehensive and meaningful personas, leading to more “micro” targeted marketing activities with an eye to increased relevancy and effectiveness. Additionally, dynamic content served up in emails and on certain sections of the website will also play a large role in increasing personalization.
Preemptive Lead Scoring and Analytical Forecasting
Predictive analytics is a trend that B2C marketers having been working the kinks out of for quite some time.
If you’ve used Amazon, you’ve experienced it in action, especially with their “recommendations engine” which makes product recommendations based on purchases history, location, previous reviews and other customers with a similar profile. While it obviously works differently for B2B, the technology enables marketers to make better use of behavioral data and other insights.
Going beyond the limitations of traditional lead scoring models (which have an average of 10 data points), predictive scoring can use anywhere from 200 or more data points. It scours a host of sources from the web, social channels and even internal sources like your CRM and marketing automation database to calculate a score that’s more predictive of actual buying intent.
Leveraging the growing number of solutions out there such as Lattice Engines and Mintigo, companies like Dell, GE, Adobe and Time Warner are using predictive analytics to identify, prioritize and ultimately close more customers.
The Evolution of Content Marketing
It wasn’t long ago that content marketing was nearly unheard of and only a few innovative organizations were leveraging it.
Fast forward just a few short years and the great majority (86 %) of B2B firms are using content marketing (or at least, attempting to). In fact, according to the latest research from Content Marketing Institute, the majority of B2B firms plan to increase both their content marketing budgets and content volume in 2015.
Recommended Download: 8 Interview Questions You MUST Ask Your Next Content Marketer
B2B firms will continue to rely on content marketing as a cornerstone of their overall marketing strategy. But content marketing is maturing– evolving into a much more strategic, sustainable and measureable discipline. This year, look for some of these emerging trends:
Prioritization of having a documented content marketing strategy.
Extra attention and priority given to demonstrating ROI.
More budget and resources assigned to content marketing activities.
Better integration of content marketing throughout all communications and PR.
Mixing of paid and owned media to boost distribution and consumption.
Less focus on quantity, more focus on quality, well-written content.
Greater dependence on visual content such as video, photos and web graphics.
Increased usage of SlideShare as a platform for content marketing.
Additional emphasis on the mobile experience for all content.
Strategic Paid Promotion
As more firms invest in content marketing, the desire to reach as many prospects as possible becomes paramount. And with the ongoing challenges created by Google’s ever-changing algorithms, and Facebook reach woes, among others, B2B marketers are going to be increasingly leveraging paid media to support content amplification.
“It’s already happening, but 2015 will be the year of paid amplification. With content marketing reaching near-ubiquity, the success pendulum will swing toward boosting consumption of content.”
Whether in the form of sponsored posts, promoted tweets, search engine marketing, banner ads or retargeting, expect B2B marketing plans with greater dependence on mixing paid and owned media to boost content distribution and consumption.
There will also be a growing trend of companies using more traditional advertising (e.g. digital, print and even broadcast and radio) as a means to promote specific content offers, not simply promote brand awareness.
Further Merging of Sales and Marketing Silos
Marketing and Sales have infamously had a somewhat contentious, if codependent, relationship in many organizations. But as B2B buyer behaviors have changed, the need for increased alignment and closed-loop communication between marketing and sales teams is absolutely critical.
A Humorous Take on the Sales-Marketing Rivalry
video from Lattice Engines
Many company leaders cite alignment as an ongoing priority, but this year it’s becoming more mission-critical than ever–and rightfully so. According to SiriusDecisions, B2B organizations with tightly-aligned marketing and sales achieved 24 % faster revenue growth and 27 % faster profit growth over a three-year period.
To support alignment, firms are turning to marketing automation to provide an infrastructure to coordinate marketing and sales activities through increased communication, transparency and measurement. This is one of the many reasons marketing automation software continues to see enormous growth (the latest analysis from Frost & Sullivan predicts global software revenue will reach nearly $2 billion by 2020).
As B2B firms look for ways to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their sales and marketing teams through better alignment, look for marketing automation to play a role.
In the near future, marketing automation adoption rates among B2B firms will continue to increase and firms already using the software will continue to improve and refine their processes and practice.
Reliable, “Traditional” Strategies See a Resurgence
While traditional tactics haven’t been ignored completely, they haven’t necessarily been en vogue over the last decade either.
Marketers have focused on trying newer, trendier, flashier digital tactics and channels. But as analytics capabilities improve and more strategies on emerging media and channels are tested, many are finding that not all aspects of digital can yet deliver ROI that consistently beats tried-and-true marketing staples.
Some of those traditional tactics are starting to make a comeback in B2B marketing.
For instance, print is one medium seeing a revival. Creatively leveraging print can actually help firms engage their audience in a more differentiating, meaningful way in an era of shrinking attention spans, email deliverability challenges and digital overload.
With everyone hopping on the digital bandwagon and abandoning traditional marketing channels, print can actually be a way stand out.
But the key will be finding unique and different ways to leverage print, not just the same old tri-fold brochures and sell-sheets from the past. While many think of content marketing from a digital perspective, print can actually provide a fantastic medium for longer-form content such as magazines, posters and guides while giving your audience something tangible to hold onto.
Another “old school” tactic that’s regaining attention is networking events and tradeshows.
In a relationship-driven business, you simply can’t beat the face-to-face interactions that tradeshows and events offer– research proves it. Over the last five years, B2B marketers have listed in-person events as their most effective marketing tactic in CMI’s B2B content marketing research.
But as with print, while the tactic is the same, the strategy and execution has to change. Firms need to adopt a more strategic, client-centric, education-oriented and ROI-driven approach to their tradeshows and events.
Article source: business2community.com
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