Marketing trends aren’t the same for businesses that market to other businesses. After all, your customers are also studying marketing to find out how to reach their own customers, so they are savvier the strategies you use to attract their attention.

If you are trying to sell to other businesses, you can’t research market strategies that are designed to reach retail consumers. You need to narrow your focus and ensure that every move you make has maximum impact to help you meet your goals.

Here are the top B2B marketing trends in 2016 that you’ll want to incorporate in your strategy for the coming year:

Digital Takes Focus

B2B brands have clung to traditional marketing methods even when the consumer brands have run toward online marketing.

After all, so much of connecting with other businesses is about relationship building and establishing authority. Therefore, B2B brands have relied a lot on in-person and print marketing efforts.

Digital marketing was once seen as niche in the B2B field, but it is now being accepted as mainstream. There is no reason to refer to it as “digital marketing” — it’s just “marketing.”

Increased Focus on Advocate Marketing

Referrals have always been a big part of B2B success, but brands are increasingly focused on generating them through advocate marketing.

Brands can toot their own horn all day, but it won’t have as much impact as what other customers have to say. Therefore, brands are focusing more on how they can get their customers to promote their products and services for them.

Some ways that B2B brands are doing this is by using software that helps them increase social media engagement, to track customer purchases for follow-up contact, or to create promotional programs.

While businesses that sell directly to retail customers have long had loyalty programs that provide discounts and other benefits, B2B brands have resisted these tactics. Now they are incorporating their own version of the loyalty program, offering special promotions through password-protected portals, sending special event invitations, recognizing clients at conferences, and more.

These strategies are helping B2B brands engage their clients and create a positive relationship that encourages referrals and recommendations.

Shift from Search to Content

While the big money has always been in search, it is now going into content marketing.

In fact, Pulse Point and Digiday released a joint report saying that B2B brands are spending 59 percent more on content marketing — which is far more than they are spending on SEO or social media.

This makes sense since most of the tricks that brands were using to rank in search have lost their thunder with Google algorithm changes. What Google emphasizes now is the quality of the content, so why not just focus on the content and let the rest happen organically?

Creating quality content also creates more intent-based signals, which is the new focus for most search marketers. Intent-based marketing gets at what customers really need when they are searching, not just matching keywords. So, for example, if customers are looking for “business tax issues,” they are likely looking for answers to specific questions or tools that can help them with those issues, and your content should provide that information.

Email Marketing Stays in the Game

Some may have predicted the end of email marketing, but those predictions just don’t seem to materialize.

They’ve been saying the same thing for print for a long time and that still hasn’t happened, so they can’t all be right.

Far from dying out, email marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways for B2B brands to reach clients. Brands are able to scale email and customize it to reach specific customers, and they are able to accurately measure effectiveness and ROI. Brands can even tweak individual elements through A/B testing to make sure emails are effective as possible.

Changes in Online Advertising

So much threatens the effectiveness of online advertising that B2B brands are having to change the way they think about their advertising strategies.

Low click-through rates and the rise of ad blockers and bot fraud have all threatened the ROI on advertising. Brands are having to look carefully at the way they spend on advertising and the tools they use.

The online world is changing the business world, and it changes so fast that few of us can keep up. Staying aware of the trends and using the latest tools can help you stay competitive while others are still struggling to make sense of the latest changes. You’ll continue to meet your goals and will gain the edge you need.