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

Content Marketing – The Game Changer for your Brand

Content Marketing – The Game Changer for your Brand

The term ‘Content Marketing,’ though relatively fresh, has elevated marketing to a whole new plateau. Thoughts and methods to reach a concerned target market have evolved, leading to the grand inception of this concept. Simply put, content marketing is the creation and distribution of posts, videos, blogs and such to stimulate a pre-existing need among potential customers. It is the stimulant which drives them to purchase products or services that meet their needs. Content marketing is essentially a psychological game, which often benefits the most preceptive marketers.

This may seem vague, but don’t worry, you aren’t alone. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 55% of B2B marketers said they were unclear about the structure of a good content marketing campaign, despite stats which showed that they allocate 28% of their budget to content marketing. Such is the intricacy and thought that needs to go into content marketing. The next time you think the job of a content strategist is easy, think again!

A content strategist needs to analyze each piece of content, to ensure that the following facets are touched upon:

Social media engagement: Traditional marketing methods have given way to digital channels. The old marketing methods of postal letters and phone directory optimization are dead. Today, everything is online. Without an online presence, no brand would be as grand. With every passing day, the evolution of content marketing brings in newer methods to engage potential customers on social media.

Engagement is not confined to a certain stage in the marketing life-cycle. Before creating content, a content strategist needs to outline engagement objectives and goals to map out a content marketing strategy. After establishing the desired result, it is relatively easy to work backward and create content. However, it does take a good amount of thought to create content that gets clicked and initiates conversations. Content is crucial, as a survey conducted by Demand Gen Report showed that 47% of buyers viewed at least 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.

Without innovation, it is impossible to attract online interest. Custom URL shortener solution is the latest in innovative content. They are eye-catching and receptive to branding. mylnk.is/MeaningfulLinks is more click-worthy than uvw12xyz90.com/sjddh009. In an age where 76% of people use their Facebook feed to find something interesting, custom URLs are too novel to go unnoticed.

Gain trust with relevant content: Brand loyalty is one of the most important aspects of marketing. Though initial content will surely not get any customer close to the sort of devotion that can be classified under brand loyalty, trustworthy information can go a long way in sowing seeds for a long-lasting relationship. In keeping with this notion, the importance of blogs has steadily risen over the past few years. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, 53% of marketers stated that blog content creation was their top inbound marketing priority.

It is not easy to initiate a relationship, but it is equally hard to cut ties once a relationship is established. For the purpose of illustration, consider Nike. Though the sweatshop ordeal was widely publicized, brand loyal customers hardly budged to give other sporting brands a second glance.

Create curiosity: Human beings are curious by nature. As we progress in years, we learn to disguise our curiosity, which gives “keen observers” the impression that kids are more curious than adults. But, this is far from the truth.

Content strategists have used shrewd content to pique the curiosity of audiences for ages. Consider the Yamaha advertisement from yesteryear, which began with numerous questions on a blank screen. The questions were very mundane in nature, such as “what should I eat” and “what should I wear.”

When the screen was inundated with questions, a rider shattered it with a Yamaha motorbike, and the text read, “It may not be the answer to everything, but at least it doesn’t raise more questions.” Curious to know the answers to the first set of questions? Well, there are no answers, but Yamaha’s shrewd content strategists ensured that people saw the motorbike and were left, not with questions, but the thought of riding to forget the many pedestrian questions that life throws at us on a daily basis.

This advertisement was way ahead of its time. It probably paved the way for the strategic content, which today is vital to the success of any business. A recent study by Adobe showed that 51.9% of marketing professionals trusted videos to deliver the best ROI. It is not just written content, but how it is delivered that truly makes a difference.

The role of content has moved from being product-centric to customer-centric. Extensive studies on this topic have shown that stellar content revolving around a product does not affect sales if a customer cannot relate to it. Potential customers must embark upon a journey of awareness, consideration and decision making, all of which is fundamentally facilitated by strategic content.

Story telling: People love stories! When a brand has a story to tell, people take notice. It is one of the most powerful marketing tools, not only for its ability to attract listeners, but its potential to turn into a juicy piece of conversation. While telling your story, you create compelling marketing content and stimulate word of mouth.

It is like hitting two birds with one stone. This is a competent strategy to gain the attention of your audience. You may need a raconteur to turn your story into engaging content, but it is definitely worth the investment.

A raconteur can turn a dull story into a fascinating fairy-tale, but if your viewers are not stimulated to read it, the effort is wasted. As the adage goes – You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink… unless it is thirsty. Visual effects create that thirst in viewers to read your content. In fact, research by Xerox has shown that people are 80% more willing to read content that is accompanied by striking visuals.

Search engine optimization: Years ago, brands vied for top stop in telephone directories. Similarly, but with the use of different practices, brands compete for the top spot in search engines, simply because potential customers hardly ever visit the second page when hunting for anything online. The single most important driver of SEO is content.

The research-based marketing firm, Ascend2, noted that 72% of marketers felt that relevant content was the most effective SEO tactic. Google has tacitly monopolised the term search engine, so much so that ‘online search’ has become synonymous with Google. The fight for Google’s top spot is so intense, that though Google regularly changes its algorithms to make its search more relevant for customers, businesses find a way to beat the algorithm.

E.g., if you look for the synonym of any English word on Google, the first three search items will show www.thesaurus.com, which logically doesn’t make sense. But the people writing content for that website have so flooded it with keywords that other synonyms generating websites don’t stand a chance of finding a spot in the top three. This increases their chance of getting more visitors to their website. It is to nullify these illogical search results that Google regularly revises its back-end algorithms.

It goes without saying that businesses have to keep up with Google and its whims and fancies to get noticed by potential customers. Though this is essential for success, there are other simpler ways to get noticed. The use of custom short link generators, is a novel method to get more clicks, views, and shares.

Create brand reputation: With educative and trustworthy content, brands can become reputed sources of information. Once established as the go-to source for information, the reputation itself can create a legacy that will be hard to come undone.

Though this may seem like a tedious way to acquire brand loyalty, it is tried, tested and trusted. Great products create brand royalty, but great content drives brand loyalty. Royalty does not last forever, but loyalty does!

Subtle advertising: Hard selling is a thing of yesterday. Try hard selling to today’s savant customer base, and you’ll ruin your chances of ever making a sale. Therefore, it is of immense importance to keep away from “in your face” advertising. That being said, divulging information without a go-to-destination can lead your customers to your competitors.

Won’t that make your competitors glad!

Nuances of content marketing and intuition play a vital role in judging where the line must be drawn between marketing aggression and customer consideration when advertising a product or service. You don’t want to be too passive, and yet being aggressive can implode instantly.

Product manual: It is imperative to provide customers with an easy to read and understand “product manual.” Customers who can’t use products that they purchase are likely to be so ticked off that their negative opinion can not only keep them away from your brand but stop others who hear their opinion from venturing to try your products or services in future.

This is reinforced by stats, which show that 53% of smartphone users prefer companies whose mobile sites and apps provide instructional video content.

Now you know why it is of vital importance to have the right content specialist on your team. Without a content anchor, your marketing campaign will sail the stormiest of seas and eventually capsize, though the sea maybe full of potential customers who are waiting for the right sort of bait. Get that game-changing anchor on your team, and your brand will certainly flourish.

This blog was originally published in website: Customer Think