Spring is arriving, and 2019 is in full gear. It’s time to focus how you will address this year’s B2B marketing trends as part of your own strategy. While some trends may be a holdover from the previous year or are taking on a bigger role, there are also new B2B marketing trends that need your attention in order to attract and maintain your customer base.
Here’s what I’ve observed based on my own interaction with our B2B customers in the last six months and through my ongoing research on the overall marketing environment:
B2B Marketing Trends That Continue
It’s important to know the trends that continue to impact B2B marketing despite being part of the environment for so long:
- SEM/SEO: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization will always be a critical B2B marketing trend because businesses conduct ongoing research to understand their own environment as well as look for other companies to help them achieve strategic objectives. Although you may have focused your effort on title tags and headers -- and these will continue to be important -- you will also need to look at other tactics to build search traffic on other channels and through additional content strategies. This is because search algorithms will change yet again this year so you will need to stay up-to-date on how those changes impact your SEM/SEO tactics.
- Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): This is a traditional marketing concept that has been around for decades, but it is gaining new ground in 2019 and beyond as companies realize that they can apply the benefits of IMC to the digital environment as they reach out to companies across channels. The overall purpose of IMC is to help create a unified and consistent brand image and message no matter where you engage with your audience.
B2B Marketing Trends Set to Grow
Here’s what’s been around in the world of B2B marketing but will grow further as a key area for results:
- Content Marketing: Business customers seek information for decisions just as much as consumers and sometimes more, especially if they are looking to invest in equipment or a software platform. Or, they might be desperate to address a key business challenge that is impacting their profitability. That’s when you can offer them niche-specific content that addresses those needs rather than focusing on selling to your prospects. And, as always, remember that your content marketing needs to be as relevant and useful as possible
- Retargeting: The ability to locate where your visitors go in terms of other sites will become more critical as you fight to keep your audience prospects engaged with what you have to offer. More effort will be put into understanding their behavior as they move to other sites so you can create advertisements that speak directly to their interests and browsing history.
- Social Media and Video Marketing: Certain social media channels are growing within the B2B arena, particularly Instagram where businesses are seeking out other businesses on this channel to see their brand in action, including videos and visual content. Although LinkedIn continues to lead the way in terms of B2B social media interaction, other channels like YouTube are starting to gain more traction in the B2B environment for the ability to share information they want in a much more digestible and engaging way. This is leading channels like LinkedIn to consider how it can offer similar features.
- Data-Driven Marketing: Data will become increasingly important in the B2B world like it has done with consumers because companies will also want personalized experiences with brands. And, with the ongoing use of social media and content marketing, more metrics will need to be analyzed in order to core to understand what resonates with these businesses, when they are engaging with the content, and what the competition is doing to win your customers.
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Although already in use, ABM will continue to grow because of the number of stakeholders and the complexity of transactions and investments in the business environment. Rather than taking an inbound approach to lead generation, ABM provides a way to hone in on specific types of clients and build out those relationships through value-added delivery and achieve return business over time.
New B2B Marketing Trends on the Horizon
Although you may have heard about these trends, this is the year that they are set to become part of the B2B environment even if they’ve been part of the B2C marketing landscape for the past few years:
- AI and Machine Learning: Now that companies see how this technology can work with a consumer audience, there is growing acceptance that these tools could help with B2B marketing in a similar way. For example, more analytics is incorporating artificial intelligence to understand the audience and results from B2B marketing efforts. Also, more B2B bot applications are appearing, such as chatbots for websites and social media channels as well as meta bots for customer interaction and analysis to address the aforementioned trend toward data-driven marketing.
- Internet of Things (IoT): Now that businesses are starting to adopt more IoT devices and see the benefits of such connectivity for their own operations, they are more amenable to receiving marketing messages via such devices. This means more content marketing and engagement through devices like virtual assistants, including ads, promotions, relevant information, and access to further content that helps them deploy and use IoT devices in their businesses.
- Data Protection: Businesses are showing an increasing focus on their desire to have their personal information protected, which means brands will have to find more ways to protect the data they are gathering on their clients. This means paying more attention to technology that secures this sensitive data and to how privacy policies are written and shared with clients.
A Forever Changing Landscape
While it doesn’t feel as volatile as the consumer landscape, the B2B marketing environment continues to change as companies experience more demands on their own operations to satisfy their audiences.
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John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #3 on the Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a blogging expert by Forbes.