In B2B marketing, it’s not enough to keep up with the current trends. To get in front of your target audience and convince them to move down your marketing funnel, you need to be more innovative than your competition—and then continually evolve to make sure you’re staying a step ahead.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Innovation isn’t easy to implement, and it’s even more difficult to predict what future innovation will look like. And yet there are a few areas in which B2B CMOs can invest to set themselves up as leaders in B2B marketing. From talent to tech, here are the key areas where innovative marketers should invest.

Digital talent

Investing in innovation means investing in the people who can drive the adoption of new tech tools to unlock their potential. A few key roles to prioritize this year include:

  • Data analysts – Today, successful marketing campaigns are data-driven, and talented data analysts are needed to translate an ever-growing collection of data points into actionable insights. Ensure you’re hiring data experts who understand both the art and science of data collection and analysis.
  • Web managers – While it may not seem like knowledge of HTML and web development is a top priority for your marketing team, these are the skills that can set your department ahead. Software solutions and digital tools are central to the operations of a modern marketing department, so it’s critical to have talent on your team that can build or modify the tools you’re using to reach prospects and collect marketing data.
  • Social media community managers – now more than ever, B2B buyers are searching for solutions on social media, and they expect that brands will be ready to engage with them on the networks where they’re spending their time. For most large brands (and even for many SMBs), it takes a dedicated community manager to keep up with 24/7 social conversations, develop compelling social content, maintain a consistent organizational voice and practice social listening.

Mobile tech

Remember “Mobilegeddon,” when Google changed its search algorithm to favor sites that were optimized for mobile? Companies that weren’t making sure their websites, emails and content displayed properly on mobile devices have been scrambling to maintain their SEO rankings ever since, and their challenges will likely continue. Mobile optimization is a marketing must-have, and it’s only going to become more important.

A report noted that 53% of email opens took place on a mobile device, and American adults were spending more time browsing the Internet on mobile devices than on desktops and laptops. Additionally, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown Digital in partnership with Google, 42 percent of B2B purchasers use a mobile device in their B2B buying research process — a growth of over 91 percent in the past two years.

There is no question that it’s time to take mobile seriously. If you’re not already investing in mobile, start putting the basics in place now. Ensure your site is responsive (or develop a special site just for mobile) and optimize your emails to display properly on mobile devices. But don’t stop there: as you look forward, develop a strategy to push content out to leads and customers through mobile channels. Consider a text messaging campaign, a custom branded mobile app, or any of the other innovative mobile marketing strategies that top B2B and healthcare brands are already pursuing.

Video

According to Marketing Land, adding video to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90 percent. With 76 percent of B2B marketers using video, marketers need to get smarter and more creative in the way they approach video to stay competitive.

Pledge to invest in creating a robust library of video content. Focus on using video to tell stories and to put a human face on your product or service. Consider featuring loyal customers and creating a narrative about your brand’s partnership with them, or making training videos featuring some of your most dynamic employees. Especially in the B2B space — so often misconstrued as stuffy and boring — video can showcase your company’s personality and help endear potential customers to your brand.

Also, resolve to experiment with trailblazing streaming video platforms like Periscope or Meerkat to give your prospects a real-time, unfiltered look into your business. These platforms can be great tools for broadening the reach of your events, training sessions and speaking engagements, and allow your potential customers to engage with your brand in new ways that transcend the boundaries of time and place.

As you plan for projects, think about how you can build innovation investment into your long-term marketing strategy. The digital marketing world is ever-changing, and as a marketing executive, it’s your job to predict and then navigate the latest developments. Take this time to build the team and implement the tools you’ll need to stay on the cutting edge in the year ahead.