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,
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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