At the agency we have a pretty even split of B2B and B2C clients. For some, B2B marketing lacks a bit of glitz and glamour but I’ve always been rather fond of working on these accounts.
For me, B2B marketing is characterised by its complexity and our role is often to bring focus, clarity and, if possible, simplicity to the table.
Whilst many consumer decisions are quick, repetitive or impulsive, B2B decision making and purchasing tends to be a much more complex and lengthy process.
In the coming weeks our blog will take a close look at what’s hot in the world of B2B marketing. To get us started here’s my list of 8 trends every B2B marketer should be embracing.
I love a good yarn. Creative storytelling is a great way to establish your brand and persuade someone to try or buy your product or service. The amount of information online can be overwhelming and lots of B2B content is, quite frankly dull. Too few B2B brands attach emotion to their brand stories. When done well this creates sticky stories and memories that engage consumers. Go on – have a laugh, create intrigue, stand out. It will make a difference to your business’s bottom line.
Having a responsive website in 2015 is an imperative; it’s no longer optional. But adopting a mobile first mindset means going way beyond your website. It should affect every aspect of your marketing strategy and involves viewing all your marketing efforts through a mobile lens. B2B companies have invested heavily in content generation over the last few years, but all too often the technology and tools that would deliver a great mobile experience are the missing link. Get this wrong and you’ll miss countless opportunities to deepen customer engagement and conversion.
Please. Be human. B2B campaigns have to connect with real people. Even B2B decision makers want to be entertained. Relax a bit. It’s OK for B2B campaigns to have an element of fun as long as key facts and information are communicated with clarity. We all consume information differently now. We have lower attention spans and desire bite-sized pieces of content. Little and often is what people want (except when they don’t – but we’ll save that for another blog). Our B2B brand stories and marketing messages have to reflect this.
Your content has to be searchable and “click-worthy”. If you’ve created content with value don’t be shy – share it. In today’s social online world, we all want to share the best stories and messages. Know your customers and know the platforms they use. Create buyer personas and modify your content accordingly to make sure you get the maximum value out of the time spent creating the content in the first place.
And please, make sure you have a documented content strategy, findings from the CMI’s B2B content marketing research indicates strongly that this has a direct impact on your content’s effectiveness.
Many B2B businesses are embracing automation to provide a framework to co-ordinate sales and marketing activities. According to a report from SiriusDecisions B2B firms that have tightly aligned sales and marketing teams (it even has a new name Smarketing) record 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period.
Measuring and monitoring marketing campaigns can be tricky and expensive – science and creativity don’t always make good bedfellows but good automation tools can really help track, measure and improve the success of campaigns whilst breaking down internal silos at the same time.
Micro-targeting will continue to be a hot topic throughout 2015 and beyond. By using data and analytics to better understand customers, businesses will be able to respond in real-time with personalised content and targeted messaging that are both timely and relevant.
The uplift in ROI delivered by enhanced customer engagement from such a highly targeted approach to content will be well worth the financial and time investment required to do it well.
Internal communications are still a key component of great B2B brands. Your employees should be your biggest brand ambassadors. Harness the power of your people because when managed well, every employee is a potential brand ambassador.
When the world only wants to talk digital it’s easy to forget that many old-school B2B marketing techniques are still relevant today, in fact because of the big swings in budget towards digital marketing some traditional tactics are more relevant than ever.
With so many consumers facing digital overload – print can be a way to generate real stand out and help firms engage with their customers in a completely different way.
Events and face-to-face are still great for building relationships. Fact. B2B marketers still consistently rate in-person events as their most effective marketing tactic in CMI’s B2B content marketing research.
A word of caution – for these old school tactics to work they need to be grounded in the present, strategically sound and ROI driven. Not just vanity projects.