What B2B marketing trends should you be watching in the new year? Is your digital marketing strategy ready for what’s to come? Here’s my summary of what to watch in B2B marketing as 2019 approaches, and how to prepare for what’s next.
Influencers are getting even more influential.
People are putting more trust in the messages that come from people they know and from reputable content, rather than from ad messages.
It’s been obvious for several years that people are running away from traditional ads. Back in 2015, a Nielsen study showed that the four most-trusted sources of advertising were: people you know, branded sites, editorial sites, and reviews. Ads were near the bottom of that list, which still holds true today.
This is why we see more money spent on content marketing, influencer marketing, referral programs, user-generated content, and other methods that are designed to deliver actual value to audiences. Celebrities aren’t the only influencers, it’s anyone with a good story or experience with your product or service.
Content marketing is encompassing an even larger role in overall B2B marketing strategy, with processes that are more formalized.
Companies are finding more uses for the same engaging, high quality content created by marketing.
Beyond generating leads and building customer interest, engaging content also enables your sales team to answer relevant customer queries, and benefits Recruiting, Investor Communications, Internal Training, and just about every other area of your business. (Note too, how this can support your case for beefing up the content creation budget.)
Content creation is becoming a major part of the inbound investment.
Everyone has at least one e-book these days; some are becoming veritable publishing houses. Blogs have also gotten longer. Whereas the average length of a blog was 800 – 1000 words in 2016, it’s been creeping up to the point where many are almost book-length. Search algorithms are favoring denser and denser material as everyone fights for the coveted, high-ranking “Authority” position within their industry or field.
This trend has created a high demand for talented content producers. In the previous 12-months, B2B content marketers spent significantly more on content creation than on other areas of content, including staffing and content distribution. More than half of content marketers surveyed by Marketing Profs spent more on producing engaging content (e.g., copywriters and designers) than they did on staff, content distribution or technology.
Marketers are seeing greater results with inbound marketing campaigns when they formally document a content marketing strategy.
According to Marketing Profs, by the end of 2018 the most successful content marketers (as measured by year over year revenue gains) were far more likely than their less successful peers to have a documented content marketing strategy: 65% vs. 14%. And that’s understandable, considering the many benefits of a documented strategy:
Documenting your content strategy includes:
- Using an editorial planning calendar (we use one here at Leadit for this blog),
- Mapping your content assets to each stage of the buyer’s journey, and
- Assigning key performance metrics to measure return on investment.
Voice command search is expanding to the office.
Some analysts estimate that close to 50 percent of all searches will be made through voice search by 2020. This means people aren’t just using voice assistants at home; they’re using them at work too. (Not to mention that for more and more executive level workers, home is the office, at least part of the time.)
Why you need to be prepared for the rise of voice search
Voice search differs from the typical desktop or mobile search. When you open Google on your browser and type in your search query, you’ll see hundreds of pages of search results. It’s not that hard to be a part of that list. But when you ask Alexa or Siri a question, you get back just a few results. Sometimes only one. If your website is one of them, you win. But it needs to be there in the first place. Therefore, marketers need to be preparing tailored strategies for voice search, such as simplified phrasing and a more natural human voice. People using voice assistants tend to phrase their queries in question form, rather than phrases.
Why voice search is yielding better insight into buyer intent
The choice of words used in the question provides more context about user intent, which in turn can provide advertisers with more insight into the consumer’s place within the purchase funnel. Are they simply researching, or ready to purchase?
For example, if someone asks, “What is the difference between a software developer and a web developer?” they are likely just researching. But if they ask, “Where can I find a software developer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area?” they are much closer to taking action, and you know where they’re looking.
Use of AI and chatbots is becoming even more widespread.
Artificial intelligence is the hot topic in marketing. Even though many still don’t understand its capabilities and limitations, the technology is taking shape and finding more use applications.
The most widely implemented form of AI is a chatbot, which help brands to improve customer service while keeping a lid on budgets. Chatbots are quicker than humans in giving any data-related answers and taking requests. They have humor and personalities and offer personalized service to any customer in need, any time. Chatbots can be integrated with a website, an application, and even with a social media platform. They also gather user information that can later be used to better tailor marketing strategies.
Helpfulness and authenticity will combat relationships lost through tech and automation.
There’s no stopping marketing automation and technology. These advances help marketers scale more effectively, make better decisions, and save money. Having a seamless handoff process between a bot or other automated responder that connects people browsing your site with an actual human once the bot’s resources are exhausted is a good way to keep it authentic (and to close a sale).
As social media has become embedded in almost everyone’s daily life, understanding the changes implemented in the social networks is essential for businesses. These continue to change at a rapid pace.
Renewed focus on analytics that matter
One of the core trends in social media management is actionable insights. Social media management technology provides measurement and analytics that track the impact of social content on the buyer journey, not just the number of impressions, likes or followers.
Successful companies are implementing robust measurement systems that create a direct link between social activity and predetermined goals – whether it’s email, sign ups, e-commerce sales or spreading a specific message. Social media analytics platforms, such as Sprout , offer convenient tools for measuring direct impacts on sales conversions. Metrics like retweets, likes and follower count are no longer enough to please clients and/or senior executives.
Analytics apps can also be used to help inform what content is performing best by channel. Additionally , social listening and analytics tools help with understanding audiences and market trends, and planning a go-to-market strategy.
Is your marketing plan ready for 2019?
Digital B2B marketing trends are evolving at a mind-bending pace in many areas. That’s why Leadit employs a team of professionals specializing in each of the different kinds of marketing technologies. We assemble the right mix of experts for each client’s individual needs. If we can help your company with adopting or running any of these 2019 B2B marketing trends, let’s start a conversation.
Shannon Prager is recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. She is responsible for the daily operations and management of Leadit Marketing as well as the long term vision for the company.
A marketing leader with over 19 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy. Shannon’s background includes demand generation, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, customer marketing, account based marketing and marketing operations. You can follow her on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonprager or Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LeaditMarketing
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