The future of B2B marketing: what to expect

There are many ways that marketers can promote their brand to businesses in the digital world. There’s social media, sending personalized emails and websites to name just a couple.

The buyer’s journey has evolved over the years – and with it B2B marketing.

No one knows when the next big thing is; it could be tomorrow or it could be in 5 years. Either way, marketers are challenged with the task to make buyers need their product or service.

Nevertheless, this article will describe what the future of B2B marketing looks like and what you can expect to see over the coming years.

Thought Leadership

According to Edelman-LinkedIn research, only 17% of thought leadership creators said it led to the inclusion of their company in an RFP. However, that same research showed that 41% of CEOs said that after reading a thought leadership piece they included a company in an RFP process. 

It’s important to understand that most B2B buyers are cautious. They aren’t the decision makers responsible for taking on a new client. Instead, it’s their job to present the actual decision makers with research and reasons why they should purchase a product or service.

If the decision ends up costing the business, it does not reflect well on the buyer’s career, making them and their company less likely to purchase from that business again.

This is why thought leadership works. When your company is thought of as a market or industry leader, the risks associated with buying from you are minimized.

It doesn’t matter if you really are the leader right now or if you are a company challenging for the top. Thought leadership is going to play a big role in the future of B2B marketing. 

Content Franchises

Companies that create sustainable content franchises are extremely successful. You only need to look in the direction of Hollywood to see it for yourself. Sure, Disney is B2C, but just look at their business model.

They have created long-term franchises that people are willing to invest a lot of time and money in. For example, with their purchase of Marvel, there has been a non-stop production of superhero movies that always crush the box office. 

According to DAP, B2B marketing is going to follow suit.

Marketers are going to create content that positions their business as experts. This will make them become an authoritative figure in their industry. For example, Salesforce has created a franchise of its own, namely the “State of…” series. 

This also ties back into the first point ie thought leadership. By thinking with a franchise in mind, B2B marketers can create a demand for the next installment in the series. 

Add expert subject knowledge and you’ve got yourself a recipe for B2B marketing success.

A Change In Marketing Metrics

Marketers measure a whole host of data points. However, not all data is good data. Marketers should pay less attention to cost-per-click and click-through rate and focus more on more significant metrics that measure the actual contribution of marketing.

For example, early on in the sales process, marketers should be measuring brand awareness. As the prospect ventures down the funnel, marketers should shift towards measuring engagement with content. 

And towards the end of the funnel, marketers should measure lead generation and sales conversion to give a clear indication of the campaign’s ROI. 

The End Of Hyper-targeting

The idea was great; create hyper-personalized content to specific people in key places.

In reality, hyper-targeting is not going to come to anything. Any future B2B marketing strategy that plans to use hyper-targeting is likely going to exclude potential buyers and influencers.

At the end of the day, hyper-targeting isn’t educating anyone as to why they need the product. It’s also not going to be able to predict what companies will be in need of that solution.

The better practice will be to convince the entire buying committee. This includes influencers as well as the decision makers.

Expect B2B marketers to expand market interest in their product and strive for a relevant reach.

The ‘Show-Me’ Age

Gone will be the days where prospects can trust what you have to say. Instead, you’ll have to prove it. Research has shown that 45% of Americans have lost faith in media outlets. On the other hand, 63% do trust people like themselves. 

But who are these ‘people like themselves?’

The answer: employees. They are going to be the most effective marketing people B2B buyers will interact with, from the distribution of content on social media to customer service calls.

Furthermore, employees have a far bigger reach. In fact, a typical employee base can have as much as 10x more social reach than the brand itself.

Large Scale Use Of Artificial Intelligence

AI is already here but it’s going to play an even larger role in B2B marketing going forward. More data will be collected than ever. Marketers will be able to use it for delivering personalized content to the right people.

For example, AI will be able to lead a prospect directly to the content they are searching for on a website – or even show it to them directly.

The increase in data will also help B2B marketers understand their audience a lot better. With the potential for new business and clients, AI can help nurture them into long-term relationships.

While hyper-targeting won’t work, AI certainly will.

Enhanced Customer Experience

This can be the difference between choosing one company over a competitor. From the initial search to engaging with the product, customer service is vital throughout the buyer’s journey.

The best B2B marketers are by unifying their databases. This can include all sorts of data, such as from websites, marketing automation software, CRM platforms, and customer service interactions. 

By seeing every step in the process in a single location, it will be a lot easier to enhance the customer experience, resulting in more leads and conversions – and keeping them!

Conclusion

B2B marketing must adapt at the same rate as the evolution of the buyer’s journey. There are plenty of techniques to stay ahead of the game, but it’s how they are used that will measure the success of the campaign. Not sure where to start? Team up with a marketing team that can help guide you towards a better B2B marketing future (here’s a great list to choose from).

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Author
Founder of Tork Media; a combination of sites I own, a publishing company, and my rather large obsession with fitness (aka: Nanohydr8).