How Technology is Affecting B2B Marketing Trends
The constant innovation of new and better technology creates an atmosphere of consistent change for marketers today. The capabilities of 5G and chatbots, the ever-evolving Cloud, Machine Learning, AI… all are contributing in powerful and unexpected ways to the evolution of marketing.
For the B2B Marketer, keeping up with this steady progression of marketing technology can prove challenging. To help you avoid some of the confusion, we’ve rounded up a list of 5 top B2B Marketing trends to pay attention to.
1) Enlist the Power of Word-of-Mouth
Advancing technology has come with some pitfalls. The collection and sharing of data along with bombarding popups, emails, and other ads are often considered intrusive. Statista shows internet users are adopting ad blocking technology at a rate of 30% and Pew Research Center found 80% of social media users are concerned about advertisers misusing their personal data. As a result, B2B Marketing is getting trickier as people opt to block ads or avoid interacting with content to protect their information.
To counter this, the traditional Word-of-Mouth method is an increasingly popular option. Survey results from Fan & Fuel show 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no reviews. What’s more, 88% trust reviews they find online just as much as in person!
The take away is pretty clear – people want information they can trust from people they know, especially online.
Avenues such as Influencer Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Storytelling, and Community Building can give your B2B Marketing strategy the extra boost it needs by building trust. Try building your community through a forum initiating discussion relevant to your brand. You can also ask your customers to submit reviews on your website or give recommendations through social media. A whopping 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social! Hosting a limited time offer or contest will encourage likes and shares and further build your brand awareness.
2) Optimize and Grow with AI
Automation, Hyper-Personalization, and Machine Learning are the superstars of B2B marketing, and with good reason. As technology advances, so do customer expectations as they expect super relevant information with immediate access. Fail to meet these expectations and your prospects are likely to move on to someone who can. Without the help of AI, the man hours to supply this kind of demand would be grueling, if not impossible. This process requires advanced data interpretation and segmentation with near instant reporting and action on the results.
With AI and machine learning you can automate your campaign processes based on hyper-targeted demographical information, ensuring the highest form of personalization on an unlimited scale. You don’t have to review each individual prospect’s information and then manually create a campaign to maintain your personal touch. Instead, you can build templates targeted to the specific traits or interests of your ideal customer groups, set rules for your software to follow, then let your AI take care of the rest. Your system will deliver your campaigns automatically to the audience which best meets your terms saving you both vast amounts of time and significant manpower.
AI today can learn about your target audiences, automatically deliver content and generate reports, set parameters for success measurement, suggest relevant “next-steps,” track your lead sources, track changes in your audience preferences, and more.
In short, if you aren’t utilizing AI tools in your marketing strategy you’re missing out on HUGE opportunities for company growth.
3) Engage Your Viewers with Interactive Video
We’ve been advocates of video marketing for some time now, but this is one trend that is definitely not going away. Online video consumption is growing exponentially so if it isn’t a part of your B2B Marketing strategy yet, it’s time to get on with it!
Here are a few video marketing statistics from Forbes, just to prove our point:
- 54% of people want to see more video content from marketers
- Video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic
- 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions
- 59% of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post
If you really want to make the most of your B2B Marketing strategy, make sure your video content is kept short (2 minutes or under), hyper-focused, and is relevant or personalized in some way for specific viewers. According to HubSpot, personalized videos have a retention rate which is 35% higher than if they aren’t personalized. Furthermore, interactive video proves to be far more engaging so use tools that will allow you to embed clickable links or include other calls-to-action which entice your viewers into doing something more.
4) Strengthen Your 1:1 with Conversational Marketing
Conversational Marketing brings the old 1:1 sales concept into the digital age through channels like Live Chats, Video Conferencing, Live Webinars, Chat Bots, SMS, and Messaging Apps. It’s basically like taking the traditional door-to-door sales tactic and putting a modern, digitized twist on it. The focus is to maintain a more personal relationship with your prospects and customers by making yourself available to introduce new products or features and answer questions.
In reality, this more “human” approach to B2B Marketing is another way AI comes into play. Automated campaign targeting helps to build your audiences and Gartner predicts a majority of interactions between customers and businesses will be handled by virtual agents (think Chat Bots).
Overall, the results of this technique can be impressive. A recent study conducted by Drift, Salesforce revealed 60% of respondents had used Conversational Marketing tools to interact with a business. Here are some more findings:
- 38% used online chat in the prior year
- 30% used a company’s mobile app
- 28% engaged with a business through social media (i.e. Facebook Messenger)
It’s clear the trend isn’t expected to change anytime soon as people continue to find ways of making personal connections in a digital world. A good way to get started is to host Facebook Live events, live Q&A chat sessions, or maybe a few quarterly webinars.
It’s also becoming standard to use an automated chat invite on your website. Even if you don’t have a bot responding to questions, you can at least make your staff available during business hours through a live chat mechanism which displays in a corner for your visitors to see. It will notify you on your device of preference when a visitor has a question so you can answer it from anywhere.
5) Reach the Masses Through Omni-Channel
Omni-channel Marketing is the process of reaching consumers everywhere they are at with one seamless and integrated experience. The idea is to look at the way your consumer thinks and the steps they may take when considering whether to purchase your product, then provide them with one immersive and connected experience throughout their buyer’s journey.
For instance, your potential customer may start by finding you through an online search which leads them to your PPC Ad. They can click on the ad and go to your product landing page on your website, where they can submit their information. This triggers an automated welcome email providing them with more knowledge and resources regarding your product.
Then perhaps, they do another search looking for reviews of your company. Ideally, these reviews would link back to your company website. On your website, you provide contact information for your business including telephone numbers, email addresses, and a physical location. You also provide links to social media. If they call, come to your physical location, or visit your social media, they would see the same branding they’ve encountered through all these other channels.
Each of these different channels would also collect and pass on your consumer’s data, making it accessible between platforms. This provides a connected experience for your consumers which makes it easy for them to learn about you and gain access to your product without having to take steps backward during the process. Regardless of which channel they are using, their profiles, preferences, previous behaviors, and other factors are available to them and to you. They don’t have to sign-up or enter information over and over or refill their cart if they switch devices.
Omni-channel Marketing acknowledges the various ways consumers may choose to interact with your business, making their journey easy and your product accessible no matter where they are at. In turn, this builds reputation and trust for your business. It lets your customers know you are experts and professionals in your field and that you care about them.
A few Omni-channel Marketing best practices include:
- Test your various channels regularly to ensure all your elements are working correctly and provide the best possible consumer experience
- Collect and review data to measure the responsiveness and success of your different campaigns and ensure personalization
- Develop personalized content to address consumer behaviors, such as previous purchases or online carts left full without a purchase
- Ensure an integrated and responsive experience across all devices. If a customer fills their online cart via mobile then later moves to desktop, they should see the same items still in their cart
- Create a cohesive branding experience across all platforms: same colors, same logos, same images, same messaging, etc.
Ultimately, your goal in Omni-channel Marketing is to create an easy and simple way for consumers to buy your product or service without interruption in the process. This requires tying in your data to all your channels and building “consumer profiles” that introduce a personal and seamless buying experience. Utilizing automation and AI tools help tremendously in this process, as well as maintaining a documented strategy which integrates all of your B2B Marketing practices and platforms.
These are just a few of the top B2B Marketing trends, but they’ll get you off to a fantastic start when planning your strategy. Of course, with the pace of change in marketing technology we feel it’s important to stay on top of all the trends that are transforming B2B Marketing now and into the future. So, keep in touch to learn more best practices in marketing for your business.
And if you ever find it’s all a little too much, you can let us know. We’ll manage your marketing so you can manage your business. Contact us @ (402) 810-6971 or reach out here to see how we can help you!
Sources: N. (2018). Ad blocking user penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2018. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://www.statista.com/statistics/804008/ad-blocking-reach-usage-us/; Rainie, L. (2018). Americans’ complicated feelings about social media in an era of privacy concerns. Accessed October 31, 2018 through http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-complicated-feelings-about-social-media-in-an-era-of-privacy-concerns/; N. (2017). No online customer reviews means BIG problems in 2017. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://fanandfuel.com/no-online-customer-reviews-means-big-problems-2017/; N. (n.d.) B2B eCommerce Trends and Statistics. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://b2xpartners.com/b2b-ecommerce-trends-and-statistics/; Kolowich, L. (2018). 16 Video Marketing Statistics to Inform Your 2018 Strategy [Infographic]. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/video-marketing-statistics#sm.0000f7ujhkwrse8sqa62aq63w23fi; Bowman, M. (2017). Video Marketing: The Future Of Content Marketing. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/02/03/video-marketing-the-future-of-content-marketing/#152d1d9c6b53; N. (2016). Predicts 2017: Marketers, Expect the Unexpected. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://www.gartner.com/binaries/content/assets/events/keywords/digital-marketing/gml3/gartner-2017-marketing-predicts.pdf; Baer, J. (2018). The 6 Critical Chatbot Statistics for 2018. Accessed October 31, 2018 through https://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/6-critical-chatbot-statistics-for-2018/