The B2B industry is embracing digital transformation at a slower pace to B2C industry. However, the current trend is very positive to say that B2B industry has realized the potential of digital marketing, especially the potential of inbound marketing.
With the typical long lead-cash process, B2B businesses are empowering their team to involve in organic customer engagement and education over the transactional engagement. With the affordability and ease of marketing automation, SMEs are coming forward to provide more personalized customer experience than ever before. Content marketing is becoming every marketers favorite.
It’s great to witness a healthy portion of annual marketing budget is assigned to Digital and organizations are hiring the right skill to drive their initiatives.
Here’s is my take on the 5 top B2B digital marketing trends to dominate in 2018.
1) Content Marketing
Content marketing is there and it will be there to grow massive. Content marketing tops the chart of every business as the main digital marketing channel. CM not only proves an organization’s thought leadership in their segment, it also improves the SEO ranking. Every business loves organic traffic to their site. Blending the content strategy with keyword strategy is going to drive immense organic traffic to the site impacting the organic leads and ROI.
Businesses, irrespective of their size putting immense effort to segment and understand their customers, create persona, research the buyers journey and formulate the right content strategy.
Organizations who have adopted content marketing strategy, I am sure they must have seen a positive impact. Businesses are trying to explore and experiment the right content format which suits their target audience. We are going to witness them refining their strategy, focusing more on providing exclusive and valuable content, hiring the right team to source content, creating co-branded content.
Parallel, there is going to be increased expenditure on content distribution., Content syndication ad expenses are going to increase as well.
Businesses using traditional marketing are going to open their doors for content marketing, investing in customer understanding and sourcing the right content to engage with their audiences.
Its very crucial to understand the right format in which your target audience is going to consume the content. With the web getting loaded with text based content blogs and white papers etc, customers are becoming selective. I foresee a slow shift towards video content, which also indicates that the content marketing budget is going to increase further by as little as 20%.
2) Marketing Automation
Adoption of Marketing Automation in B2B industry is growing at fast pace. Thanks to the affordability and simplicity of the web/cloud based MA platforms .
Businesses using Marketing Automation are mostly using the email marketing automation feature and yet to harness the full potential of the MA systems to provide seamless customer engagement across the buying journey. On the other hand I foresee more businesses are going to adopt automation, an easy start would be from email marketing.
It’s the right time to segment and classify the customer database, understand customer needs and set up need based or seasonal email marketing campaigns targeting highly specific audience and trigger behavior based emails (Drip email marketing). Businesses need to integrate their content marketing strategy with email marketing for a seamless outcome.
3) Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account based marketing is going to see a drift. Interestingly, start-ups are focusing more on ABM than large businesses. ABM compliments the growth hacking strategies.
ABM is like Key Account Management about focusing 80% of your time and energy in those 20% key accounts which can potentially yield 80% of your revenue. This is slightly in contradiction to inbound marketing where you target a broad audience based on persona, engage and educate them, However, the conversion rate is poor and the closing duration is pretty longer.
With ABM you can develop clean and targeted strategies customized for key accounts and provide a seamless engagement across different touch points.
ABM works best in coordination with traditional marketing and other related stakeholders within the organization though digital marketing plays a major role here. Because of its direct impact on revenue & ROI, ABM is favorite of growth hackers and large businesses have started adopting this as well.
4) Social Media Marketing- LinkedIn is Going to Rule
B2B organizations are not far behind in harnessing the potential of social media. Twitter & Facebook will still remain the favorite with small to medium businesses & start-ups, Instagram marketing will be driven by influencers.
Organizations are going to strengthen their presence on LinkedIn. LinkedIn with 500M users is consistently improving its algorithm and ad interface, it’s going to be one of the favorite among brands.
5) Programmatic Ads
A good shift is expected in adoption of programmatic display advertisement. Organizations becoming more serious about their marketing expenditure and ROI, which is often compromised with manual ad buying process, are going to be addressed by Real Time Bidding-Programmatic ads.
However, higher budget cap to start with programmatic and the complexity with the middle players may limit small business adopt this technology, organizations with higher marketing budget are definitely going to invest behind Programmatic.
Sources of reports- emarketers, Content Marketing Institute, Internal Advertising Beauru, UK, Ascend-2