What marketing trends are you implementing in the New Year?
Last week, we spoke with 5 B2B sales thought leaders who shared their 2014 trends and 2015 predictions. Their curated insights pointed towards the future of inside sales and sales development: sales tools, data, sales process improvements, sales enablement technologies, target account marketing and selling, and more.
We would be remiss, however, if we did not interview marketing leaders as well, for there will be some big changes to marketing in the future. We asked them this question:
What were the major trends in B2B marketing in 2014, and how do these trends influence your predictions for 2015?
Marketing execs and coordinators, stay up to date on the latest trends and predictions from these marketing thought leaders.
Two major trends in 2014 are pointing to one major challenge for B2B CMOs in 2015. The first trend is the ongoing and increasingly rapid expansion and adoption of marketing technologies. The second trend is a significant increase in business optimism. In a 2014 SiriusDecisions study 97% of executives in companies over $500M in annual revenue and 92% of executives in companies under $500M stated they are either confident, or very confident their business will grow in 2015.
While both of these trends add up to good news, they also signal even greater marketing technology adoption in 2015, and therein lies the problem for many CMOs. The challenge is not the rapidly expanding universe of available technologies, but instead the lack of proper skills to get full value from these technologies. Ultimately, this problem comes down to a few common mistakes and issues. First, too many marketing organizations continue to adopt technology without changing the way they operate. Second, there’s a growing scarcity of people with technical skills who also have deep marketing experience, especially with the rise of predictive modeling and analytics. Third, most marketing leaders have no idea how to hire, onboard, and manage technical people.
That sweet new analytics platform is about as useful as a virtual paperweight if you don’t have people who can use the technology and analyze the data, as well as the processes, to do something with the findings. Marketing leaders should engage with their peers in IT and technical recruiters to find people with the right skills. Keep in mind that depending on the technology it may be necessary to forego deep marketing knowledge to find people with the right technical expertise. Finally, also tap into technology leaders in your organization to better understand how to onboard, manage, and even compensate technical employees.
I’m finally starting to see a critical mass of marketing departments embrace revenue responsibility. In 2014, this has meant focusing on sales pipeline contribution vs lead volume, as well as taking ownership of many sales enablement functions previously owned only by sales or sales operations. Into 2015, I expect more marketing organizations to make this migration, and I expect the level of collaboration between sales & marketing (strategically and tactically) to increase significantly. Roles will continue to be defined and distinct, but the cross-functional behavior will increase efficiency, velocity and conversion of the sales pipeline.
Predicting that predicting will be a major trend for 2015 may sound a bit meta but it was a consistent standout in 2014, thanks to the amount of data and insight we have about our prospects and customers. We’ve seen this take over in the B2C space. Just like how Amazon can predict your next purchase and Netflix recommends your next binge-watch, B2B marketers are using data and predictive analytics to identify which customers are most likely to churn, which prospects are most likely to buy and which products to pitch to existing customers. In 2015 and beyond, predictability will extend to all aspects of marketing. Marketers will have the insight to predict which content will perform best, which channels will convert the most, which campaigns will be the most successful, and so on, allowing them to make smarter decisions.
For B2B marketers, this year was more creative and nimble than ever before. The growth of content production continues to boom, with 70% of B2B marketers creating more content than years past, including a 61% increase in infographic use, according to Content Marketing Institute’s latest study. In addition, do-it-yourself tools, such as Canva, HaikuDeck and the newest presentation features from Slideshare, made it easier and faster to execute marketing ideas in 2014, while keeping it high quality. This is leveling the playing field, enabling the small business to compete with the enterprise, and enabling B2B marketers to be as big and bold as B2C marketers. As a result, 2015 will bring more, faster and higher-quality content, all the while being relevant to the audiences that consume it.
A major trend in 2014 that started as a whisper and has become a loud drum beat is Employee Activation. This is the process which enables a marketing team to leverage their employees to share information and content through their social networks.
When a company is able to leverage their employees to share content at scale the impact can be felt company wide and positively impact their brand. By empowering their employees to become more active on social media by sharing relevant information and insights, the employees can start laying the foundation to become the thought leaders of the future.
Armed with these trends and predictions for 2015 from marketing analysts and thought leaders, you will be able to better plan your marketing calendar this year to focus on what’s important. Share your own trends and predictions below and join our sales and marketing community by signing up for own email subscription below!