Keeping up with B2B marketing trends is more challenging than ever. Ever evolving advancements in technology and an ever expanding pool of marketing data — and the insights that come with it — make it hard for any marketing team to stay up with what’s hot and what’s not.
For those of us who have been marketers for a while, we’ve seen our share of trends rise and fall.
We’ve seen radio, TV, and print fall from on high.
We’ve watched direct mail have its time in the sun.
We’ve seen email marketing ascend to great heights and digital marketing carve out its place. Now automation, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and other high-tech innovations are disrupting the B2B marketing landscape and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Before you ask, “What’s next?” (and “next” will arrive faster than you think), let’s stay in the moment and ask “What is?” Let’s take a quick look at five B2B marketing trends that could have a real impact on your business this year and beyond.
Marketing’s Interdisciplinary Reach
We’ve written a great deal about the importance of having strong alignment between your marketing and sales teams. That’s a no-brainer, and these functions are inextricably linked.
But what about marketing and HR? Or IT? Or customer service?
2019 and beyond will see B2B marketing teams forced out of their comfort zones to drive business success. For example, labor and talent shortages would seem to be the sole domain of human resources. However, in an intense and highly competitive talent market, is HR equipped to market the company brand and culture to win at the hiring game? Can marketing teams truly take advantage of AI, VR, and other automation technology without input and support from IT? Can customer service teams create a great customer experience without marketing’s input and support?
The answer is no.
There has always been a great deal of chatter about how new software and tech has broken down data silos. That’s true. Now, however, marketing, perhaps more than any other function, has to have a interdisciplinary mindset that touches many parts of the business.
No function— and this is perhaps more true for marketing departments than others — can exist on an island. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to B2B marketing is key to success in 2019 and beyond.
Marketing Gets Introspective
Marketing and sales have traditionally focused the vast majority of their resources on penetrating the market and connecting with their target customers or clients.
That’s changing. More and more organizations are turning their attention to internal marketing after realizing their external branding and marketing efforts get diminished if their employees aren’t engaged in brand advocacy.
If your teams that interact with clients and customers are not upholding the brand values you promote to the market, they will fail to close sales and likely render underwhelming service.
Creating a better balance between external marketing and internal branding and culture-building improves business performance and fosters higher performance, engagement, and retention (a clear example of the need for marketing to be interdisciplinary, i.e. helping HR).
Again, for a business to sustain growth, all departments must be aligned and working together. If you say your brand is “X”, but your employees are showing through their behaviors“Y”, this is not good for business.
Mastering the Customer Experience
The Customer Experience, or CX, ties into the cross-functional approach to B2B marketing and the inward turn toward staff brand advocacy and engagement. More and more companies are beginning to understand CX is a holistic system impacted by every business function. CX is NOT the sole responsibility of your customer service function and its agents.
The CX is an aggregation of complex interactions a customer has with your brand. These could be physical, psychological, and emotional. Forrester Research did a fine job of boiling down a complex morass of CX characteristics into a single, digestible definition: The customer experience is essentially “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.”
The Continued Rise of Account-Based Marketing
Account-Based Marketing is a customized approach to specific, high-value account types that yield the most benefit to your business. Instead of casting a wide net into a general vertical market like real estate, for example, your more focused account strategy might build customized content and campaigns targeting property management firms with revenues of $3 to $5 million and 1,000 or more units under development.
That’s the heart of an account-focused marketing approach: streamlined, personalized campaigns that speak directly to the pain points and concerns of highly specific account profiles.
More and more companies are finding success with an ABM approach. Not only does ABM utilize resources more efficiently, but it also helps increase customer lifetime value (CLV). Research clearly shows that existing customers and clients are the lowest cost, highest yield source of new business revenue.
Implementing an ABM approach will take some leg work and deep research into your account profiles. But once the heavy lifting is done, you should see improved results in 2019 and moving forward.
Here are some ABM stats to chew on courtesy of Triblio:
- More than 90% of marketers believe that ABM is essential to B2B marketing (SiriusDecisions)
- More than 60% of companies plan to implement an ABM program within the next year (Terminus)
- 92% of B2B marketers worldwide say that ABM is “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts (SiriusDecisons)
- 41% of B2B marketers worldwide said they would increase spending on ABM (ITSMA)
Clearly, ABM is a hot trend for 2019 and is aligned with other B2B marketing trends like internal marketing, customer experience strategies, and a multidisciplinary, cross-functional approach.
B2B Video Marketing Will Continue to Thrive
Video for B2B marketing was a hot trend prior to 2019 and will continue to ascend in the years ahead. More and more customers and clients are engaging with video during their respective buyers/decision-making journeys.
As video technology evolves to become more immersive and personalized— and video becomes more search friendly — it’s likely to become an even more dominant B2B marketing tool in the near future. Here are some video stats to digest, courtesy of Impact:
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video (Wyzowl)
- 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate (Wyzowl)
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions (Invodo)
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video (Forbes)
If you’re looking to capitalize on these B2B marketing trends, Illumine8 Marketing & PR is always here to help. Reach out to us today. We’d love to learn more about your company and how we might be able to help you take advantage of the latest marketing tools, trends, and strategies.