The Top 5 B2B Trends for 2016
The business-to-business marketing sector is booming, and the biggest B2B trends all focus on change. New opportunities, challenges, and capabilities are shifting the landscape each quarter. So far, 2016 has proven to be a positive year for B2B because platforms that expand business reach are becoming easier to adopt.
Here is a look at five of the leading B2B marketing trends so far for 2016 and how businesses are leveraging them for better prospect experiences and improved campaign conversion rates.
Every new data set available to B2B marketers creates a clearer picture of the customer. Marketers still find that job title and function are still typically the most meaningful targeting criteria, but new means of understanding prospects’ actions and intent represent an entirely new tier of intelligence that has the attention of B2B marketers in all industries. Marketing Automation has allowed us to monitor and react to the interactions of prospects with our campaigns, and now the availability of Intent Signal™ data allows us to monitor and react to the actions of prospects across the entire internet.
Expanding these elements lets marketers weave a more complex, and more compelling, buyer’s journey. Browsing patterns are turning out to be among the most helpful for identifying prospect interest and determining the appropriate outreach.
Segmentation is being paired with different trigger emails, ascension campaigns, and indoctrination efforts, building a stronger persona at each step.
Further segmentation will lead to new levels of interactivity in content marketing. Content can be presented to the right user based on existing profiles, helping them look a little closer at a brand.
That dive gets significantly deeper thanks to new tools that support features such as questions and content redirection within a video, helping to verify intent signals. Previously static content is moving to flexible deployments that generate an experience particular to the user’s interests at that moment in time and change as that user makes new decisions.
Interactive content creates an enjoyable touchpoint between enterprise and customer. For training and or sales documents, gamification turns learning pricing information or basic training needs into a fun way for customers to learn about your offerings.
Account Based Marketing
Part of the shift in the B2B space is renewed focus on understanding key accounts as overall entities, rather than just tracking the individual actions of people within each account. This is an approach, not a technology, and marketers will craft their own methods (and marketing technology stacks) to mirror their targeted industries, sales cycles, and other variables.
No matter what the circumstance, ABM helps Sales and Marketing adjust to the fact that the number of individuals in an average B2B purchase and decision-making group has increased to 5.4 people, and that number is set to keep on rising.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The number of individuals in an average B2B purchase and decision-making group has increased to 5.4 people” quote=”The number of individuals in an average B2B purchase and decision-making group has increased to 5.4 people (CEBGlobal)”]
Businesses are responding to the upward trend by seeking out ABM best practices – how best to understand what a given company, department, or account is interested in and might potentially purchase.
The smarter the ABM approach (and supporting marketing technology stack), the better ROI it can deliver – and that return continues to rise after the initial deal. Robust ABM takes advantage of larger data sets and new forms of data, allowing B2B marketers to provide valet-level service to prospects at accounts of all kinds.
As a company experiments with ABM approaches it will identify those that are most effective and evolve over time.
Video Marketing and Sales Letters
While it’s unlikely that video will completely replace the written word online like Facebook is predicting, video is gaining new ground as a B2B trend for marketers looking to show off their brand, demonstrate products, provide help and humanize their brand.
Cisco predicts that 80% of all web traffic will be video by 2019 but what’s more important for you is that 74% B2B marketers say that video campaigns perform better than other marketing. Videos are becoming more specialized and used for new tactics, such as creating a case study that not only shares facts but showcases the field services, buildings, and other elements being discussed.
[clickToTweet tweet=”74% B2B marketers say that video campaigns perform better than other marketing” quote=”74% B2B marketers say that video campaigns perform better than other marketing (VidYard.com)”]
The B2C space has seen systematic conversion rate increases, and these target existing B2B sweet spots. Improvements occur when video sales letters (VSLs):
- Focus on establishing and solving problems.
- Tout brand accomplishments and leadership.
- Present obstacles in a realistic light.
- Discuss the failures of conventional solutions (i.e. competitors).
- Tie the call-to-action with a brand-backed guarantee.
Those five elements are already present in much of today’s B2B marketing, so the major hurdle to VSL adoption seems to be finding the time to try something new.
New Advocate Marketing Avenues
Advocacy has been lurking in the minds of B2B marketers for years, but it will rise to a new level this year thanks to a full suite of tools and services that make things that much easier. Consumers and other businesses are creating more content than ever, presenting new avenues for an advocate marketing platform to use.
Podcasts are one interesting place that advocacy is moving to, thanks to 75 million Americans listening to a podcast on a monthly basis. Businesses are using podcasting to showcase services, establish themselves as thought leaders, and to reach new customers. With a focus on grassroots marketing and a starting budget of under $200 for the right equipment and software, businesses are poised to take advantage of customer desires for audio content.
This is just one of the many new avenues for reaching out, and we expect to see many more that bleed over from the consumer side of marketing.