As we look back at the year that was and wait for the ball to drop on 2018, it’s time for a time-honored holiday season tradition: business “year in review” and “year ahead” predictions.
Having helped a variety of brands improve their marketing strategy over the past year, we are familiar with the numerous challenges B2B marketers face. In our last post, we shared the trends that marketers needed to be aware of in 2017.
As we look ahead, we have a few new trends for B2B marketers. So pour a glass of champagne, and let’s look at what will be hot in 2018:
- Account-based marketing is a strategy, not a tactic: ABM is not about digital targeting alone, or any one tactic. It’s a strategy that involves a combination of people, process and technology that can deliver staggering results. Organizations should take an account-based approach to all areas of their business, including marketing, business development, sales, and customer support to drive engagement rates, pipelines and revenue numbers.
- Thought leadership impacts sales: High-quality thought leadership content breaks through the noise of a crowded marketplace, and it builds trust in and respect for your B2B brand. But marketers sometimes struggle to determine how thought leadership efforts translate to tangible sales impacts. In a recent research study we conducted with LinkedIn, we found that business decision makers and C-suite execs view thought leadership content as having a meaningful impact on RFP invitations, creating preference with buyers and directly contributing to sales wins.
- Get truly personal with Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI has the power to take digital marketing to the next level, whether through chatbots that can retain customer data and boost sales with personalized ads, or through audience insights that improve search ads. With voice-based searches accounting for more than 20 percent of Google searches, digital marketers need to optimize websites for voice search along with the traditional text-based search.
- What your prospects aren’t telling you is just as important as what they are telling you: Beyond gathering data from a form field, how can you tell what your prospect wants or needs? People leave behind information every time they search the internet or visit your website. There are numerous tools that can gather this information and piece it together to gain insights into the buyer’s intent, making sure that every message you push is tailored to the right channel at the right time.
- Don’t ignore the insights of the buying committee: The days of a single decision-maker are gone. As the number of people involved in purchase decisions grows, marketers need to consider the roles, functions, and needs of the buying committee when developing content and outreach strategies. Start by building out an ecosystem of the organization as it relates to your product or service, then define the different individual buyers’ roles to determine how content should relate to each persona and how it impacts the buyer’s journey.
- Think out of the box with e-mail: According to the Radicati Group, the number of emails sent per day in 2017 averaged 269 billion. With so much competition in the inbox, how do marketers stay relevant? Today’s personalized emails lead prospects to personalized landing pages, content recommendations and sales interactions, and most prospects are now expecting this type of integrated, customized interaction with brands.
The future of B2B marketing will be constantly evolving as marketers adapt to the new tools and information available to them. Want to stay connected to the latest B2B marketing trends? Contact us below:
Jake Parrillo is executive vice president, B2B Marketing, Chicago.
Kate Cooper is vice president, B2B Marketing, Chicago.
Jaenneke Wolf is vice president, B2B Marketing, Chicago.