At the beginning of 2018, marketing leaders at business-to-business (B2B) firms face more pressure than ever to deliver new and innovative strategies. DataStax CMO Karl Van den Bergh believes “marketing is the most rapidly evolving corporate function.” We researched and boiled it down to the top B2B marketing trends to keep an eye on this year.
While goals may vary, the most effective campaigns this year will likely require new approaches. While some trends are more hype than substance, the following B2B marketing tactics are research-backed and ranked among the most effective methods.
1. Research-Driven Content
74 percent of B2B decision-makers consider original research influential, according to a CMI/SmartBrief study. Arguably, research-driven content is the single most influential form of branded content, second only to the impact to peer recommendations (ranked influential by 80 percent). If you are not yet using content, you’re missing massive opportunities. Content is king when done consistently and is often the most cost-effective way to fill your marketing funnel.
2. Smarter Social Investments
Social media is the single most common form of content used by B2B marketers, with 83 percent adoption. However, only 40 percent ranked it as a crucial marketing tactic. Social for B2B is unlikely to go anywhere in 2018. More likely, brands will invest their budget more wisely; Brafton predicts organizations will focus on networks with proven results such as LinkedIn. Brands may also increasingly invest in social media’s potential as a big data source for market research and competitive intelligence.
3. Influencer Marketing
Partnering with industry influencers can unlock increased exposure and credibility. 73 percent of B2B organizations plan to invest in this tactic in 2018. In B2B, influencer partnerships mean more than Instagram product placement. There’s an opportunity to form spokesperson relationships with subject matter experts, co-create marketing with other brands, elevate employee voices or invest in client case studies.
4. Intent Data Analytics
Rising analytics adoption is contributing the “geekification” of B2B marketing trends. In 2017, 36 percent of marketers said better analytics were crucial to making the most of existing MarTech investments. Adopting tools and processes for understanding how audience members behave online through intent data can provide B2B organizations with richer insights and more data-driven customer profiles in 2018.
5. Personalization and Interactive Content
While just 53 percent of brands offer personalized, interactive content, 92 percent of marketers believe it’s critical to success. Research reveals personalized content performs 42 percent better than non-personalized offerings. Gaining the attention and trust of qualified B2B buyers this year may require strategies and tech for one-to-one or tightly segmented communications. While many technologies like VR or AR may be focused on the consumer market, do not ignore these. Check out a recent project from The British Museum using Contentful to build interactive augmented reality tours.
Conclusion: Research-Driven Methods to Unlock B2B Marketing Lift
While many B2B marketers will be experimenting with drastically different channels in 2018, such as artificial intelligence or virtual reality, some of the highest-return tactics could involve slight updates to existing channels and methods. Investing in influencer marketing, original research, personalization and other top B2B marketing trends could yield remarkable results in a rapidly-changing business environment.
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