Tom Cole, CEO at RDA shares his thoughts on an article from Business 2 Community - "B2C pioneered Digital Marketing, B2B is now catching on - it really is "People2People". To accomplish this you must have a vision for what you need to do to drive business for your firm *and* a plan for how to evolve and put the right Marketing Technology (MarTech) tools in place at the right times to achieve your plans."
Marketing innovation is thriving, and the opportunities for B2B business to ride its waves are expanding each year. And with new developments in numerous avenues of digital marketing, the summer of 2016 will be no different.
One of this year’s most notable trends involves more and more B2B companies employing B2C techniques, such as video advertising and advocate marketing. These tactics are shaping B2B marketing into a more human, relatable way of communicating with customers.
Additionally, with so many ways to create and distribute it, content will continue to rule the digital marketing scene and take up a larger proportion of budgets. Marketers will also focus more on people and how to reach them in the most direct and honest manner.
In order to capitalize on recent trends, B2B marketers need to take a close look at the possibilities these ever-evolving marketing methods offer their companies. Adopting B2C techniques and a customer-centric approach are good places to start. As always, being quick to adapt to these changes and apply them to your marketing efforts are the keys to reaping the biggest benefits and generating the highest ROI for your B2B business.
Ready to launch an updated B2B marketing strategy for the rest of 2016? Let’s go through the top six marketing predictions for this summer to help you form your plan.
#1. A Boost in Personalization
A few years ago, personalization in the digital sphere was limited to using a customer’s name in your promotional emails. Luckily, today there are many ways to make each interaction between your brand and your online users special.
Whether consciously or not, most of us expect personal treatment when we connect with a brand. Therefore, 2016 will be the year that B2B marketers pay more attention to using personalization.
The main course of action for B2B companies in terms of personalization is to dig deeper into people’s behavior and interests, and thus offer a unique experience to each and every one. This means including personalized content on landing pages and websites, as well as emails that acknowledge previous purchases, spheres of interest, and other social interactions. As far as email is concerned, the focus will mainly be on mobile functionality, including image loading times and engaging subject lines.
Once again, content will be in the spotlight this summer. Gone are the days when technical SEO was the top priority. Today, search algorithms are placing a much stronger emphasis on the context, usefulness, and intent of content.
Thus, while SEO will still play an important role, the actual value of the content will be paramount. A 2015 PulsePoint report projected that by 2017, content marketing budgets will have grown by 59 percent, and most marketers already see it accounting for a major part of their companies’ revenues. Also, the amount of spending dedicated to content marketing will quickly surpass search and display advertising.
The reason for the budget shift to content is also supported by its power to meet a wide range of brand objectives, including brand awareness and engagement, lead generation, and customer acquisition. However, its richest potential lies with engaging audiences, which is especially relevant for brands that want to reach out to potential customers in the upper part of the marketing funnel.
#3. Interactive Content-Based Marketing Will Shine
Not only will content marketing continue to develop and grow throughout the year, but also it’s set to generate heavy cash inflow for businesses. Interactive content marketing, in particular, will become the star of B2B marketing, with some experts even referring to it as the next ROI wonder.
Unlike static and gated content, interactive marketing can help you relate to your customers on a whole new level by allowing people to dive into online experiences that have been tailored especially to them. Plus, it enables them to establish an emotional connection with your products and brand. New types of interactive marketing include interactive tests, games, and training, all of which aim to keep users engaged while extracting useful information for your business.
This process of giving prospective buyers a chance to interact with brands before reaching the first steps of the sales process is beneficial to both prospects and B2B businesses: it can boost the prospects’ own knowledge of their current needs and give them a whole new understanding of how to use certain products.
Video started off as an experiment for B2C, but it’s become a solid part of B2B marketing, moving steadily from branding to demand generation and sales. According to Cisco, by 2019, streaming video content will comprise 80 percent of all online traffic.
An increasing number of B2B marketers are identifying the powerful impact of video—74 percent report that their video campaigns perform better than their other marketing effort. Hence, this summer will see more and more marketing departments and service providers upping their video game.
While the most commonly used video marketing tactics currently include explanations and product feature videos, this is bound to change in 2016. User testimonials, demonstrations, webinars, case studies, interviews, and vlogs are among the many opportunities that marketers are starting to explore. With this expansion of video, the ways in which engagement is measured will also evolve, boosting video analytics at the same time.
Another interesting trend in marketing in 2016 is the blooming of programmatic digital advertising, which is starting to replace traditional media buying methods. Not only is this process more efficient, but also it allows B2B companies to better assess their ROI from digital ads.
As consumers increase their use of mobile devices while still relying on laptops and desktop computers, the focus this summer will be on cross-device programmatic advertising. Therefore, B2B marketers’ approach to digital ads needs to be more holistic in order to match users’ changing preferences.
Coming off the heels of programmatic’s impressive success in 2015, spending is growing, with a projected $21.5 billion to be spent in the U.S. this year—a dramatic increase from $15.4 billion last year.
Even though advocate marketing has been used in B2C for awhile, this year B2B marketers will continue to open up to the idea. B2B companies are beginning to realize how important it is to create value for their customers beyond the actual sale. After all, for 84 percent of B2B buyers, word of mouth is the most important factor that impacts buying decisions.
The use of referrals is a tried-and-true method for attracting new leads, but the only way for it to work is to invest in creating strong relationships with previous customers. Fostering their loyalty through special programs, gifts, and other incentives will be key for B2B companies.
With current customers turning into brand advocates, businesses can utilize the power of customer reviews and referrals. Advocate marketing software platforms will also gain popularity this year, as brands will be looking for efficient ways to boost their efforts in this area
There are plenty of reasons to embrace the new opportunities that the latest marketing trends offer B2B companies. From holistic, customer-centric approaches to content marketing reaching new heights, the innovations in the field can make a real difference for B2B businesses. Equipped with these six cutting-edge marketing practices, you’re well on your way to creating an up-to-date marketing strategy for the summer of 2016.