B2B Marketing Trends that will Rule 2018

B2B Marketing Trends that will Rule 2018

Would 2018 be the year of innovative marketing? Well, just saying yes would be an understatement. This year also expected to be a promising year of better engagements with the audience and increased lead generation. But the critics have their worry hats on, wondering whether 2018 will also, be a year of fast-changing trends that will leave the marketers in a dizzy black hole writes Neel Sinha, Founder, MyLnk.

As a marketer, the best way to tackle the fireballs is to be well prepared and to have an understanding of the trends that will emerge and grow stronger in the year ahead. 2017 saw many B2B businesses trying marketing strategies, used by B2C companies. Some worked while many did not. The lines have blurred between the B2B – B2C marketing strategies, but it calls for attention on stronger customization of in the delivery of it, based on the audience.

Being aware of the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018 could make any organization among the forerunners, as it would result in a well-informed marketing team that can plan better. B2B marketing success will still rein on the strategy that combines each of the below trends. B2B trends that will rule 2018 is strongly influenced and extrapolated from the year 2017, more so based on what worked and what tanked altogether.

Let’s run through the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018,

  1. Building a Brand, Not Just A Company

The market has drastically changed in the last decade. It is not enough to just be the company that supplies products and services. B2B companies have buckled up and are working on being a brand. The clients now expect you to be more human and more approachable. Having social media accounts and random posting is not enough.

Social media, as a channel to brand building, is one of the most trending aspects of B2B marketing. Many organizations use their social media presence as a means to connect with not just their clients, but also with the end users. Facebook (89%), LinkedIn(81%) and Twitter(75%) are the three most used social media channels by B2B marketers. About 40% of the companies in India are B2B, so to not just be one among the crowd, it is essential to be a brand.

B2B companies are also turning to Instagram to build the audience and add additional channels to generate leads. Brands like Hootsuite, MailChimp, IBM are utilizing social media at length and turning end users into evangelists.

  1. Customized Marketing Strategies that are driven by Data

Data-driven marketing strategies have been a trend for a few years now, and it will continue to be on the pedestal. Data scientists or analysts will play a stronger role in the planning marketing strategies and also in the sales cycle- from lead generation to conversions. The amount of data available has also evolved over the years. Thanks to Google and other social media platforms, the target audience can be narrowed down and studied further. This would, in turn, mean data can be used not just to build an audience but also to convert the leads to sales. The B2B marketing trend in 2018 will be, Data will drive each level of B2B marketing and sales. It becomes utmost essential for companies to hence collect, as much data at every aspect. Additionally, it becomes imperative to collect quality data that scientists can then eventually use to ease the marketing efforts of the company.
Customization aspect of Marketing: In 2018, B2B marketers are predicted to follow the trend – maximum sales from minimum customers, i.e., the customers who tend to buy will be focused on to increase their spend basket. This focus will be driven by personalized marketing campaigns.

According to Marketingprofs, there was a significant 19% increase in sales when businesses personalized web experience. Personalized email campaigns improve CTR by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% according to CampaignMonitor. Statistics show that customizing marketing campaigns based on the segmentation of audience can lead to exceptional results.

The key to personalized marketing is to understand your audience and position the product or service in a way that is appealing to that specific group of prospective customers. For example, as B2B Billing SaaS Company, you could be targeting Hotel segments different from Retail. This will give an edge to your marketing efforts, wherein the prospective client will connect better with your messaging. According to Campaign Monitor, Marketers see an average of 760% increase in revenue from customized, segmented campaigns.

Customization is not limited to just emails or web services but also in every aspect of marketing. May it be PPC ads or links shared, personalization is a way for B2B to gain maximum results. Link shorteners and customizer tools like MyLnk, help to personalize the links you share across platforms for your marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Marketing will lead the way for Marketing Strategies

Content marketing was the star of marketing strategies in 2017. 93% of marketers in India are using content marketing over traditional marketing. B2B companies are also looking at content marketing as a promising strategy to brand building, generating leads, building an audience and making that sale. Previously confined mainly to serious content, B2B companies now have social media channels to experiment with content. Each social media brings forth different kind of audience and an opportunity to tell the brand story. The following aspects of content marketing are seen be one among the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018,

Compelling brand stories & Interactive Content will be in demand: The most effective B2B marketers spend 39% of their marketing budgets on content marketing. The time wherein the content for brand communications being just informative, is long gone. Any content strategy built now should champion the brand story. Storytelling hit a high in 2017, with brands focusing on sharing their story and attaching an emotion. 2018 will also be the year of interactive content, wherein B2B marketers will turn to GIFs, videos along with image format of content. Reach amplifiers have also become an essential part of content strategy. It is not enough to create quality content, but also to give it a boost to reach the maximum audience. Reach amplifiers, i.e., blogs and websites should be reposting, publishing or promoting brand content.

Videos will take over 2018 Content Marketing Strategies: B2B marketing is no more confined to just traditional ways of marketing. Thanks to the boom in digital channels. According to Brandwatch, in 2017 4.1 million videos were viewed on Youtube, 1.8 million Snaps were created, and 15,000 GIFs are sent via Messenger. With Facebook’s strategy to move completely to video content in the next couple of years and the other social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn following, Videos will be one of the most consumed forms of content in 2018.

B2B companies will also slowly transition to include more videos as part of their marketing outreach campaigns. Not just product demos but also as a way to communicate the brand. Videos will form the crux of storytelling for brands. Videos also give an opportunity to build a strong brand, displaying the values and ethics of a company. Be wise while you embrace the videos as part of your marketing strategies.

LinkedIn Thought Leadership – An emerging trend in Content Marketing: For B2B marketing, the content marketing had been confined to just Blogs with ‘How to,’ product launches. But with the LinkedIn Publishing taking on a bigger platform, Thought leaders are gaining the spotlight. The B2B companies will need to involve their management team or key players to become thought leaders, to influence the use of LinkedIn platform as indirect marketing. This strategy will also bring credibility to your company through employees and be a showcase of their expertise in the field.

The focus here has to be creating high quality, focused content that will impact the reader. Flaunt the expertise, because 2018 will be all about quality more than quantity.

  1. Lead Generation via Innovative Channe

Lead Generation will remain the top priority for B2B marketers . But the means to do it will be innovative in 2018. The B2B marketing trend of using social channels as a stronger means to drive leads and combining it with traditional means with a touch of customization will also be the highlight of this year.

LinkedIn will become a stronger channel for lead-generation and Brand awareness: LinkedIn has been there since 2009, but over the last few years, LinkedIn is emerging as a strong marketing promotional platform for B2B companies. LinkedIn has become a source for lead generation and also brand awareness. 79% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as an effective source of lead generation. Additional to the Company profile, the option to publish content as Thought Leaders or employees of a firm is used as leverage for content marketing by many an organization.

LinkedIn is known as the professional social network, where work-related posts, discussions are exclusively done. So the presence on it, for any Company has become mandatory. 2018 will see a lot more B2B companies leveraging the reach of LinkedIn as a networking and sales channel. 92% of B2B marketers are said to prefer LinkedIn over other social media channels for marketing. LinkedIn also drives brand awareness, 46% of the website traffic to companies is driven through LinkedIn.

Build a strategy around reaching out better, as a combination of content, ads and networking. 2018 will be the year of goal oriented usage of LinkedIn. Smoothing the sharp edges and figuring out a way, to drive sales and brand awareness will continue to be the focus.

Email marketing with a touch of personalization will be a stronger channel for lead generation: Social Media is slowly getting congested with umpteen brands trying really hard to catch audience attention. Though it is a must to have a social presence, it may not be advisable to solely depend on just that. Email marketing is one such traditional marketing technique that will never go off the trending list.

Email Marketing has taken on a new direction in 2017 and will be seen to be paving newer pathways. Emails are no more just about transactional or promotional but rather CONVERSATIONAL. 2018 will be the year of innovative email marketing and personalization along with segmentation of email campaigns.

Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates  according to Experian. Additionally, there was a 26% increase in the open rate, when the subject lines were personalized for the audience. With the barrage of emails coming into anyone’s inbox, to not move to the unsubscribed list, it is important to hold their attention.

Many B2B companies are taking this as an opportunity to discuss their forte of expertize and be of value to their existing and prospective clients. For example, MailChimp shares with tips and tricks to get better at email marketing through emails. A subtle way to showcase their features and helping the clients get better in their marketing efforts.

Email marketing is a great opportunity to stay connected with the clients. It also opens a window to acquire new clients through referral or converting a passive lead into a sale. Plan the email marketing well and combine it with the content marketing strategies to reap the best results.

  1. Influencer Marketing is here to stay and rule 2018 

There was a time when celebrities could drive sales for a product or a service. Now is the era of YouTubers, Bloggers. Influencer Marketing saw a major boom in 2017. It will only grow substantially in 2018. The interesting fact is Influencer marketing has been one of the most successful marketing strategies in 2017 for many brands. This, in turn, is influencing others to try it out. By 2020, there will be 600 million internet users in India and many more YouTuber and bloggers who will hit record-breaking subscribers. 12% sales were driven by Influencers in 2017.

Influencer marketing is one other trend that will stay on top throughout 2018. The main reason Influencers are working the sales magic, is because their recommendations or thoughts are seen to be more genuine as compared to any celebrity endorsements. So as a B2B company, try to get your clients and possibly software reviews to give out testimonials endorsing your product or service. You will see the value of influencer marketing much more than spending a high budget on random strategies that may not be even suitable for your brand.

Choosing the right or relevant influencers is important for a brand, to reach an audience who will become your potential buyers.

The way ahead – The Right Marketing Mix

B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018 will strongly influence the ROI of your marketing campaigns positively when combined in the right way. Personalized campaigns is one trend that is a must be implemented by every B2B company in their marketing strategy . Along with choosing the new marketing trends to be implemented, it is advisable to look back on 2017 and see what worked out and what did not. Build on a strategy that is a combination of effective campaigns and new plans. So this way, it will be a win-win situation with enough room to experiment but at the same time, not being in a blind spot.

Let 2018 be the year your B2B company becomes a brand with successful marketing campaigns that are on trend and relatable to your audience.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

In today’s ruthless world of business, brands are faced with challenges aplenty. The most significant of which – an ultimatum of sorts – is encountered when a brand is a knee deep in business stagnation. The question of whether to grow or go has visited the minds of CEOs the world over. However, it’s very unlikely to encounter a decision maker who chooses to go instead of growing. A decision well worth every applause, but is it deserving of a standing ovation? Certainly not, until the brand has harnessed the potential to grow, filled its sails with desire and ambition, and most importantly traded its dinghy for a galleon.

Customer acquisition is one of the most important drivers of business growth. A larger customer base equates to increased profits, which in turn acts as the seed for business expansion. But, how do we gain the attention of potential customers and convert them into loyal brand followers? Digital transformation has ushered a barrage of changes, a lot of which have had a detrimental impact on traditional marketing approaches. With the influx of several low-cost channels to reach out to customers, the need for expensive advertising is on the decline.

This trend has also overturned the ideology of hard selling and replaced it with more intuitive inbound approaches, which focus on exceptional customer service. ‘Value’ has never been more appreciated, by consumers and businesses alike. Present day consumers are always on the lookout for brands that offer more than just an array of exceptional products. Businesses, on the other hand, are equally appreciative of value, as it is an inexpensive way to get noticed by potential buyers.

One such unique value addition is found in link management platforms. These platforms allow for the personalization and analysis of marketing links. The rocketing use of personalized links, by world-renowned brands, to reach out to their target audience has caught the eye of many a customer. Branded links stand out for their novelty, making them click-worthy. It also works well for smart marketers who can now use links to promote their brand message.

Mountain Standard, an outdoor gear brand, has fully espoused the trend of digital marketing, so much so that they do not own a physical store to sell their products. Most of their sales take place through their online channels, while few customers buy from non-traditional pop-up stores in the U.S. The brand uses the contemporary strategy of smart content and incredible service, which have become cornerstones to the brand’s success. Their vision is simply brilliant! It reads -Premium goods at an honest price = More money for your adventures.

How does Mountain Standard sell premium goods at affordable prices and still manage to churn out a handsome profit? The theory is simple. They save a significant sum of cash in overhead costs by boycotting traditional retail stores that charge an exorbitant price just to place a product on their shelves. That’s all there is to it. But, practically, to sell goods without a chain of stores is much harder than it seems. The company makes this possible through their impressive website, which showcases every available product. A crossed out standard industry cost of the product is displayed next to the product, and the Mountain Standard cost – 40% to 50% lower – is placed next to it. A discount as such is sure to incite sales. The brand also conducts annual surveys to understand the changing requirement of their online consumers. In doing so, their website is always customized for better customer experience. It is said that in today’s digital world your website is the front of your brand, as opposed to office space, not so long ago. Mountain Standard has certainly brought this statement to life!

Not all brands can be as astute in their endeavor to garner customers. Some brands adopt a more direct approach to marketing. Very often direct marketing and hard selling are used interchangeably. However, hard selling is no more a marketing technique. In fact, it is a sure way to drive customers to your competitors. Here are five ways to draw customers to your brand:

Social influencers continue to grow in importance:

Social influencers have gained significant momentum over the past couple of years. Though it may seem like this trend is bound to decline sooner rather than later, brands continue to employ influencers in different capacities. Innovative ways to reach out to customers coupled with the trust they have in influencers has worked wonders for brands.

Traditional approaches such as guest blogging are one sure way to attract attention. Social media networks create a buzz whenever an influencer has an opinion. In due time the message reaches relevant audiences and brands benefit from the seed which is sown in the minds of potential customers through influencers.

More recently smaller organizations have started using bigger brands for promotion. It is known as the ‘host-beneficiary’ arrangement. In this case, an established brand promotes a product in their email to regular customers. This offers a chance to market to a new database of like-minded customers. In exchange, the smaller business may pay for the cost of emailing or offer commission on sales.

Press for press coverage:

The press will never become obsolete. It has withstood the test of time and is still considered to be one of the most powerful forms of media. A press release will do your brand a world of good. Not only will it ensure a good deal of readership, but it will incite trust, as it is coming from a recognized source. This is sure to be an expensive affair and should be undertaken after careful consideration.

Content marketing is at its peak:

Ask google what is the single most influential marketing tactic, and the answer is sure to be smart content! Content can make or break a brand. Right from SEO to social posts, content is the game changer! An expert content anchor can run a marketing campaign into a pot of gold. Great content without direction is a wasted effort. It is futile to have good content without a content strategy. Content creation and distribution go hand in hand. When you hit the right balance, you will see marketing miracles unfold before your very eyes.

If customer is king, customer feedback is the signet ring:

Brands have spent millions on customer surveys and test groups to analyze and improve upon existing products and services. The budget is set to increase in the days to come with the onset of personalized marketing. Without such feedback, it is impossible to create personalized products, service or marketing campaigns to sell the former. Brands with the best personalization strategies will make it big in 2018.

Focus on improving brand loyalty:

Brand loyal customers are hard to attain. Especially with the many choices in today’s market, one mistake is all it takes to lose a good chunk of loyal brand customers. However, these customers are sure to bring in a horde of new customers if their needs are met with value-added services.

2018 is certain to change the landscape of marketing. As marketers, we live in exciting times, when competition is driving mind-blowing innovation. I, for one, cannot wait to see what the latter half of 2018 has in store for us.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Customer Think