The current digital space is inundated with a multitude of content, from the mundane to the relevant, all wanting to grab the attention of online audiences, whatever background or milieu they originated from. This is made even more complex with the deluge of user-generated content, adding to the din and cacophony of information digital marketers are struggling to overcome with daily.
In the B2B marketing sphere, the clamor to create awareness and entice targeted companies, businesses, and organizations to take notice has grown much more competitive than ever. Because of this, marketing goals and mandates have shifted from merely creating awareness, to ultimately grabbing targeted audiences full and undivided attention.
Content marketing remained at the forefront of B2B digital marketing efforts in 2019 and will continue to evolve as a critical marketing element for 2020 and beyond. In line with this, various marketing trends have emerged or changed from previous iterations and are expected to gain better traction in this new year.
The following provides an overview of these emerging B2B Content Marketing trends for 2020, all geared towards helping digital marketers establish greater brand awareness, showcase knowledge and expertise in their respective fields, build connections, and win favor that can eventually influence the B2B decision-making process.
1) Content Marketing Remains Vital as a Lead Generation Tool
While many businesses have allocated considerable resources for their B2B marketing efforts, as evident in the continuous increase of digital ad spending, content marketing remains a vital lead generation tool that delivers results.
- Targeted content remains as an active element in an inbound marketing arsenal, generating a higher percentage of high-quality leads, resulting in a higher marketing ROI received by up to 53% of digital marketers
- Lead generation through content marketing can attract high-quality leads, influencers, and decision-makers in the B2B buying process. This is confirmed by up to 55% of these B2B buyers who are significantly influenced by word-of-mouth referrals
- The most effective type of content for B2B marketers in lead generation for 2020 is still long-form content or content with 1000 words or more. Up to 79% of B2B buyers choose White Papers as the most effective long-form content as it is easily shareable among colleagues.
- Lead Generation in the B2B market has also spread out to other forms of content, with video channels expected to bring bigger results this 2020. This is driven by the fact that up to 70% of B2B buyers would do extensive research on brands and businesses by watching a video.
2) A Deeper Focus on Targeted Prospects
One of the main differences in B2B Content Marketing as compared to B2C is that the latter “broadcasts” general in a bid to attract as much consumer attention as possible, while B2B marketers focus their content on their clients.
However, B2B Content Marketers tend to create certain types of content simply because they like it or because other B2B marketers want and use them. Furthermore, they embellish this content with additional “techie” features that they think would make their content appear better.
2020 will usher in a new era of change as B2B Content Marketing trends focus more on delivering messaging and experiences based on what their targeted audiences want, which is not necessarily similar to what B2B marketers prefer.
- Up to 90% of the best performing B2B Content Marketers focus more on the specific informational and experiential needs of their targeted audiences as their top priority.
- The B2B marketing funnel has evolved as more decision-makers are added to the decision-making approval line. Up to 50% of all B2B buyers are now Millennials, and this has changed the decision-making process more dramatically. They do more extensive research and move away from fillers and focus only on high-quality and useful content.
- Part of the decision-making process includes making an average of 12 online searches about a particular brand or business before they are considered in the buying process. B2B buyers make the high-quality buying experience they receive from B2C purchases as a benchmark, hoping to get the same treatment from B2B brands and businesses.
3) The Exodus from Theme Sites
In the past, many B2B marketers have gotten away with the use of a cheap theme or templated websites. But as more and more B2B buyers are exposed to advances in digital and internet technology, making them aware of the possibilities available in the market, the use of these sites would then be detrimental to B2B Content Marketers’ campaign efforts.
- The ease and simplicity of using pre-built templates when creating websites make them the most viable option by many B2B marketers – and this is where the problem arises.
- Since a multitude of sites use the same template formats, digitally savvy B2B buyers can spot them quickly, and this will reflect on how they perceive your business
- A custom-designed and original website match the unique branding attributes of a business, which is different and unique from others. This makes the site stand out, provide a more professional feel, increasing conversion rates.
4) Tailor-Fitted Communication through Personalization
B2B buyers have evolved dramatically in recent periods. Most would prefer or demand a more personalized service from their providers. The same is what they expect from the marketing content they consume.
- Up to 72% of B2B buyers expect personalized communication from the brands and organizations wanting to do business with their company.
- They expect B2B Content Marketers to spend the extra time and effort to tailor-fit their communication to suit the characteristics and preferences of B2B buyers. If they do not receive this type of personalized service, they would instead switch to a provider who does.
- B2B Content Marketers can make use of readily-available marketing technologies such as automated marketing programs that can help them create personalized content at scale.
5) Interactive, Video and Visual Content Maintains Dominance
The preferences of B2B buyers have shifted towards more dynamic and more technologically-driven content, which maintains the same relevance and thought-leadership they look for. In this regard, interactive, video, and visual content emerged as the most engaging and most effective in catering to this preference of B2B buyers.
- As up to 82% of all internet traffic is expected to feature video content by the year 2021, up to 91% of B2B buyers also have shifter towards video as a more preferred type of content over the standard static staple.
- The 2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarking Report highlighted that up to 71% of respondents made use of video content in their marketing for this year, outranking eBooks, Case Studies, Infographics, White Papers, and Webinars.
- As both B2B buyers and B2B marketers mature in their perspective of video, interactive, video, and visual content has also evolved from being a mere top-of-funnel marketing tactic to becoming an effective content marketing strategy throughout the buyer journey.
- While video content can come in long-form, short-form, and live video formats, their effectiveness will rely on their storytelling effectiveness – in how they SHOW and not tell. Aside from the attention-grabbing visuals, B2B buyers are attracted to video content on how it can connect with them on a more emotional and intellectual level.
6) Experiential Content is Slowly Gaining Ground
The sheer amount of information floating in the digital space can overwhelm people in the business world, even B2B buyers. They are inundated media and news that it evolves into a level where it has become annoying to most.
What they need is something that can connect and engage with them at a more experiential level. This is where experiential and interactive content that delivers compelling experiences can come in and make a difference.
- Research from Gartner states that the new marketing arena has evolved where marketers are expected to compete on an experiential level.
- Customer loyalty is gained not from the satisfaction they learned from a provider, but on how the product or service connected with them on an emotional and experiential level.
- Content that can deliver interactive experiences has a higher possibility of connecting and engaging with internal stakeholders and buyers of targeted B2B audiences. Some of these interactive content include but are not limited to:
- Audio-guided eBooks
- Animated and Info-Training Infographics
- Gamified Pages and Content
- Interactive Quizzes
- ROI and other useful online calculators
- Augmented Reality (Product Catalogs)
- Virtual Reality content that provides a 360-degree experience
- … and more!
It is important to note, however, that the effectiveness of interactive content lies not only on their interactivity elements and their entertainment value but also on how effective they are in delivering useful data and influence thought.
7) Email Marketing Remains a Strong Marketing Force
Email marketing remains a strong and influential marketing force used by up to 83% of B2B marketers. Email, however, has evolved from the traditional newsletters and text-based formats to something more technologically enhanced, with new functionalities and features that drive and compel recipients to complete the desired action.
- Emails newsletters are still a useful tool for B2B Content Marketing as open rates continue to increase since the last decade
- Triggered emails have up to a 50% higher chance of being opened over non-triggered emails. Also known as transactional or behavioral emails, triggered emails are automatically sent based on actions or signals generated by a user or individual.
- Emails reeived on smartphones have 40% higher open rates, while emails received on desktop computers dropped down to a mere 18% open rate.
- Emails should also be well-formatted on mobile devices as up to 89% of consumers will delete and unsubscribe from email newsletters that do not look good on their mobile devices.
Content Marketing remains an essential digital marketing tool in the B2B arena, prompting businesses to continually invest and improve on their B2B Content Marketing efforts with the latest trends and innovations.
While it is inevitable that the form and style of B2B Content have grown more technologically-driven, the fact remains that all these campaign efforts are geared towards getting the attention of B2B buyers. However, getting the attention and maintaining that attention rely more than impressive visuals or flashy components upon.
To get better connection and engagement with targeted B2B clients, content should connect with them on a more experiential, more personalized and more interactive level. Such are the features B2B Content Marketers should focus on to gain a more favorable outcome in their campaigns for 2020 and beyond.
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