B2B marketing teams will continue to gain authority across departments in 2016. With bigger budgets, more responsibility and advanced reporting all at our fingertips.
Teams are going through the standard questions like –
What technology do we need? What internal process do we need to build? How do we improve existing campaigns? What trends do we need to stay on top of?
This article focuses on the last question focusing on four trends shaping B2B marketing in 2016. Our goal is to stoke the creative fire of your marketing team and help you deliver more revenue opportunities this year.
Account Based Marketing
How to tackle ABM in 2016 is a key concern for B2B marketers with SiriusDecisions’ State of Account-Based Marketing survey, showing that over 90 percent of marketers recognize the value of an ABM strategy.
In B2B, marketers have always used advertising platforms primarily built for B2C marketing, but there hasn’t been a solution built to directly influence our many lead and opportunity stages. Typically marketers have only had phone, email and print when looking to directly influence targeted accounts.
We can serve impressions to our web visitors but it’s difficult to see who’s getting what and what campaign influenced a won opportunity. Essentially serving the same ads to all of our different -Subscribers -Leads -Marketing Qualified Leads -Sales Qualified Leads -Sales Accepted Leads -Opportunities at the same time
Optimizing our media spends on click-through-rates and form submissions only really works if the purchase happens right then and there. Otherwise, you’re working off an incomplete data-set and sending impressions to unqualified leads. As B2B marketers we have a long and multi-touch buying cycle and need to target different lead stages with different campaigns. IE promoting E-book downloads to create MQLs and promoting Case Study downloads to SQL/Opportunities.
With Account-Based Marketing companies are combining the efficiency of targeted email outreach with display advertising. Technology vendors are working with premium publisher inventory to match your CRM data with targeted impressions. Look for this category to continue its rise and enable B2B marketers to show how their advertising campaigns directly influence sales opportunities.
Customer Experience Technology
As technology continues to integrate itself into our daily life, B2B buyers are expecting to receive a similar consumer experience from their software vendors. B2B marketers can use technology to take advantage of customer data and deliver personalized experiences throughout their marketing channels like email, web, in-app, text and print.
A recent Forrester report predicts that “In 2016, the level and quality of personalized experiences will be a key determinant in who wins mindshare and share of wallet.”
Also look to service design and product design as areas of focus for marketers to deliver a better experience. CMOs will continue to own the entire customer journey and gain authority to plug in technology/process across their organizations making sure each customer touch-point is optimized.
As Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions told AdAge “Marketing will focus on the user experience. It will be a mission between marketing, the CIO and the CTO of the company, looking holistically at the user experience…”
B2B consumers will also look to be rewarded for their referrals and brand advocacy. With a Software Advice survey showing that more than 50% of consumers are more likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program.
Marketers will continue promoting various referral/loyalty programs that can automatically reward customers when they engage in marketing activities like making a referral, leaving a product review or filling out a survey.
Marketing Automation & Personalization – Autopilot, HubSpot, Marketo
Customer Referral Marketing – Extole, Referral SaaSquatch, Ambassador
Transactional Email Marketing – Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Sendwithus
Customer Advocacy – Influitive, SocialAnnex, Forewards
Internationalization – Smartling, Transifex
Sales Enablement Technology
CRM software has been the lifeblood of sales organizations since Salesforce pioneered the category in 1999. In 2016 we’re continuing to see the evolution of sales software that goes past lead scoring, lead stages and task automation.
Sales Enablement software is giving sales teams intelligence on their customer communication and automating key areas of the sales process. Look for continued adoption of tools to built to tackle the highly repetitive areas of prospecting, emailing, scheduling and logging lead information.
B2B marketers can help their sales development reps by working to implement tools for advanced prospecting, sending drip email campaigns and appointment scheduling. Giving account executives insight and alerts when opportunities interact with their email, sales decks and product webpages.
Sales enablement technology can also fall under the realm of marketing automation which has been growing in prominence every year. Helping marketing teams provide sales content support (e-books, case studies, sales decks) at the right time in the buyer’s journey with personalized lead nurturing tracks.
Autopilot, Marketo, HubSpot
Native Social Advertising
Organic social reach will continue its free-fall. “44% average decline in Brand Facebook Reach” Ignite Media
For B2B marketers looking to expand their social reach it will continue to be a pay-to-play game with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pushing the benefits of sponsored content advertising. Look for marketers to continue moving advertising budget into sponsored content campaigns in the form of e-book/case study downloads and webinar registrations in 2016.
Developing a strong B2B content strategy to promote through your social channels will be continue to be a key to success in 2016 as the rise of ad blocking is reducing the effectiveness of our display advertisement campaigns with a recent report from Pagefair and Adobe showing that ad blocking in the U.S. grew by 48% in the past year.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Platforms