Your digital B2B demand generation net will need to be cast wide in 2017. Demand generation initiatives ensure that your company will reach and engage new targets and markets as well as retain existing customers. Your marketing strategy needs to ensure personalized touch points throughout the sales cycle to build customer relationships for years to come.
The future of sales relies on your organizations ability to excel at customer service – this will be the key differentiator moving forward. What are the B2B demand generation trends for 2017? More personalized content, more engagement, more useful information and more commitment in the relationship.
Lights, Camera, Action
With that in mind lets look at the top 5 demand generation trends that will be taking center stage this year. If you want to be in the spotlight cheered on by your target audience, these five trends will need to be part of your B2B demand generation script.
Blending in with the Background: Native Advertising
Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.
It’s a non-intrusive, non-disruptive vehicle for companies to authentically engage with their customers. The content you are offering must be relevant and done right to build trust and spread a positive brand message. A Sharethrough study found that consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads and registered 18% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads. They looked at these ads 2% more than editorial content. Massive growth is predicted in this area and will have a significant impact on revenue. Just make sure that the information you are offering is valuable and then their positive brand interaction will lead to a conversion.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Consumers look at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads” quote=”consumers look at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads ‘ quote=’Consumers look at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads @Sharethrough” theme=”style3″]
Content Marketing: Sponsored Research
noun: content marketing
A form of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as social media posts, articles, videos, blogs, newsletters, white papers, webinars etc.) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in a company’s products or services.
Or as one content strategists frames it:
“The intentional process to curate a personal conversation by sharing new insight with the purpose of driving defined actions for mutual benefit.” Diana Ballard
The rise of sponsored research as a primary content marketing trend points to the customer’s desire for information that is educative and enlightening. It doesn’t push promotional messages down your throat but rather wears the guise of editorial. It provides really useful information that allows the reader to become more intelligent in surmounting a challenge that is vexing their business.
You’re not “selling’ them anything but rather via podcasts, webinars, blogs, studies you lead them naturally to your website where you introduce your product or service solution. You want to create and distribute content that people are genuinely interested in. Serve the community first and the trust created will result in a positive relationship with your brand.
You need to be publishing top quality content regularly in order to create attention. You only need to look at Hubspot’s research archives to see how they have owned the sponsored research space. They continue to offer their subscribers trustworthy, valuable research which results in informed buyers ready for action.
Spotlight On Marketing Automation: Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a business-to-business (B2B) strategy that focuses sales and marketing resources on targeted accounts within a specific market with automated processes.
Data-based ABM allows you to easily identify an employee at a specific business that is researching a product that matches your offering. You can then customize and personalize messaging and marketing campaigns to directly meet the needs of these influencers.
A DemandGen report found that:
[clickToTweet tweet=”47% of B2B companies already have an ABM strategy in place with 32% about to launch one in the next 18 months.”” quote=”47% of B2B companies already have an ABM strategy in place with 32% about to launch one in the next 18 months. ” theme=”style3″]
These companies understand that they need to automate their processes to be able to stay in the game and have a chance at accelerating ahead of the competition. When you automate with ABM you give your team the ability to convert leads as they get the gift of more hours in a day to do their jobs.
Another great attribute of ABM is that it aligns sales and marketing teams. B2B marketers are able to deliver targeted messages which translates into qualified leads that sales can then action and convert.
Account-based marketing is thinking of the account as a market of one. It’s about being laser-focused on their needs and deploying the most effective marketing tactics available to nurture value-added, pervasive conversations with key stakeholders. This is the place where marketing and sales are at their closest, brought together by common goals and a crystal clear understanding of what success looks like.
Front Row Seats for All With Live Streaming Video
Streaming video is content sent over the Internet (in compressed form) displayed to the viewer in real time. With streaming video an online user does not have to wait to download a file to be able to see the content. Instead, the content is sent in a continuous stream of data and can be played/seen immediately.
Mobile devices have become the primary internet source for most people. This means that short video and live streaming have become the most popular ways to engage your audience. Facebook stated that their users consumed over 8 billion videos a day, while Snapchat users watch 10 billion videos per day. With people watching such a massive amount of short videos, smart B2B marketers must start to leverage the video format to promote their brand, products and services.
Firebrand Group study recently discovered that about “85 percent of marketers have seen positive ROI from their video efforts.”
Live streaming is gaining traction quickly with Twitter’s “periscope” and Facebook Live. Consumers love the authentic “human” element it brings to digital marketing efforts. You are also able to gain real-time feedback from your audience, which is invaluable. All of your live streaming content can automatically go in to your archives to be viewed at any time. Live streaming is one of your best ways to keep your audience’s attention and build brand loyalty.
Everything I Do, I Do It for You: Personalization
Personalization is the process of customizing content to individual users’ characteristics or preferences to improve customer satisfaction.
Personalization is the epitome of 1:1 marketing as it is tailored to target a specific individual at a B2B company. You can meet their needs in near real time with fact-based analytics. You now have the means to receive and monitor targets and customers researching online. This trend shows the necessary move away from predictive analytics to fact-based targeting: Intent Monitoring. You don’t have to guess at future (predictive) intent when you are privy to their buying intent immediately (fact-based targeting). Fact-based analytics gives you the actionable insights that allow for immediate personalization of all B2B demand generation marketing campaigns. Personalization should be at the very center of your customer-centric strategy.
Customers no longer respond to the tsunami of banner ads, emails and telesales –they are seeking highly personalized interactions otherwise they will not engage. You have the tools of articles, webinars, podcast, blog posts and videos to speak to them directly –so start the conversation right now. Your B2B buyer is demanding this kind of attention in 2017.
The “2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey” conducted by Demand Gen Report, said “69 percent of B2B buyers say the most influential aspect of a company’s website is content that speaks directly to their needs.”
Your B2B Demand Generation success will rely on your timely adoption of these trends –which are all well on their way to becoming best practice staples. You need to respond to your customers with content on social media, online and through your targeted, personalized marketing campaigns. You have to use marketing automation for effective ABM to create revenue generating miracles from fact-based analytics. And wherever possible say it in video or with brilliantly researched, invaluable pieces of clever content.
It’s not just about the top of the funnel, you have to be right there with them at every stage of the sales cycle. There are no quick fixes with B2B demand generation. Take note of these trends to revamp your marketing strategy to surpass your goals and welcome brand loyal customers for the long term.