As the consumer market evolves with the adoption of new technologies, trends, and innovations, the B2B market likewise is growing in a parallel direction. Everything is going digital, and the same holds for B2B marketing, as made evident by records on B2B, 61% of which have been initiated online.
B2B buyers make an average of 12 online searches to look for and consider brands or businesses that provide them the same high-quality buying experience that they receive from their B2C purchases. That is why B2B marketers are not only looking into new marketing innovations and technologies that could up the ante in their marketing efforts; they are likewise leaning into more personalized and more experiential strategies.
Such strategies are intended to bring them into a deeper and more engaging relationship with their B2B buyers. The following is an overview of key findings on trends and developments in the B2B digital market in the hope of delivering vital insights to digital marketers in this arena – and help them discover and prepare for the next big thing.
1) Adoption of Lean Marketing and More Strategic Strategies
As the B2B market continues to grow by a 10% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), sales are expected to reach figures of more than $1.8 trillion by the year 2023. This growth is spurred by the evolution of consumer demands that affect not only the B2C market but the B2B marketplace as well.
But a deluge of new tactics, tools, technologies, and innovations puts B2B marketers into an overwhelming position – and too much of a good thing can deliver contradictory results to what they are expecting.
In this regard, B2B digital marketers are shifting gears and are adopting Lean Marketing principles towards are more focused and more strategic digital marketing strategies. Some of the vital element in Lean Marketing include:
- Establish Marketing Personas – identifying who they should directly engage
- Formulate a Marketing Process – generate a highly targeted marketing process that includes principles on adaptive learning, use of analytics, validation, test and measurement iteration
- Measurement through Analytics – measurement, and examination of data, behaviors, and interaction with the use of web or app analytics
- Test and Validate – Test and validate ideas, proposals, and their outcomes through A/B testing tools, lifecycle tracking, and other manual or automated test and measurement tools
- Learn – Gather results and learn from experiences to identify the next best steps to move forward
- Improve – Get insights from what you have learned and made improvements on areas that failed or performed below expectations.
2) Customer Engagement through Personalized Communications
As mentioned earlier, the evolution of the consumer market has affected the B2B marketplace as well. Now, even B2B companies prefer or also demand a more personalized communication and level of service from their suppliers and service providers.
- Up to 72% of B2B buyers expect personalized communication from the brands and organizations wanting to do business with their company. Failure to comply means possible replacement by another provider who can cater to this demand.
- B2B Digital Marketers may find personalized campaigns too tedious and costly. They can, however, make use of readily-available marketing technologies such as automated marketing programs that can help them create personalized content at scale.
- B2B Digital Marketers wanting to deliver more personalized branding and messaging on their campaign efforts may go for the employee advocacy approach. However, be careful about how this is executed, or you will fall into the same mistake Amazon incurred when they tried to create a pool of ambassadors from their staff.
3) Customer Experience Takes Center Stage
Aside from personalized communications, B2B buyers are looking for something that can connect and engage with them at a more experiential level.
This strategy has long been adapted by the B2C digital marketing community, but it is only recently that B2B marketers recognize Customer Experience (CX) as a vital tool towards achieving a strategic marketing approach that is truly centered on the customer.
- Providing B2B buyers with a great Customer Experience can differentiate B2B marketers from the rest as well as provide them with a sustainable advantage against their competitors.
- In 2020, B2B Digital Marketers will see and experience more of the convergence of Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience (EX), and Branding.
4) Account-Based Marketing is Fully Adopted
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is marketing that concentrates sales and marketing resources strategically on a correctly identified target account. ABM was a hot B2B marketing topic in 2019 but will soon blow up to full adoption in 2020, as many see it as a more effective B2B marketing strategy that can generate new business.
The critical element in ABM is personalization, as digital marketing efforts are focused only on a particular targeted account. Since the target B2B account is evaluated identified, a more personalized campaign can be designed and executed, focusing on the specific needs, priorities, and motivations of that particular account.
- ABM is not a new B2B digital marketing concept as it was already proven to outperform other strategies in terms of ROI back in 2013. However, adoption has been slow, with only 45% of B2B companies implementing an ABM approach. It is only recently that more B2B look at 2020 as the year to advance towards full adoption of ABM in their strategies.
- ABM is useful not only in generating faster ROI, but it is also proven effective in producing higher quality lead, 84% improvement in online reputation, and up to 74% improvement on customer relationships
- Recently, experts are calling ABM as B2B marketing because of its efficacy in generating results, a fact that is firmly recognized by as much as 92% of B2B firms.
5) Digital Advertising Turns Programmatic
To get ahead of the game, B2B Digital Marketers are looking for ways to generate more cost-effective marketing campaigns that create more positive results in terms of lead generation and conversion.
That is why many try to streamline their paid advertising channels to minimize cost while delivering better results. To achieve this and gain a ton of savings from their traditional way of buying advertisement slots – they have no choice but to automate the bidding process through Programmatic Advertising.
- The use of analytics data makes Programmatic Advertising more streamlined, less prone to error, and is expected to reduce advertising costs. This promise of cost-reduction makes programmatic advertising a primary choice among B2B marketers.
- It is expected that a huge majority of Digital Ad spending will be programmatic in 2020 and the coming years, according to studies conducted by Forrester Research.
- Many experts in the B2B Digital Marketing arena see Programmatic Advertising as the future of Digital Advertising. Google acknowledges this fact and expects up to 60% of digital advertising spend by the end of 2020 to be Programmatic Advertising.
6) Investments Poured Towards Social Media Strategies
For years, many B2B Digital Marketers have downplayed the role of Social Media Marketing in the B2B arena, thinking that social media will not be useful in the complex and relatively long sales cycles typical of industrial clients.
But no one can deny the fact that more than 3.4 billion social media users will still have a tremendous impact on both the B2C and B2B marketplaces. Social media marketing will work in the B2B arena, but digital marketers need to execute their campaigns in a more precise and more strategic way.
- Not all social media channels are relevant or even applicable to a particular B2B campaign. To achieve B2B Social Media marketing success, digital marketers need to find an appropriate channel that is better suited for their targeted audiences.
- With up to 80% of B2B leads were generated from LinkedIn, this platform has been the de-facto social media channel of choice among B2B marketers. This is made more evident because of the more than 40 million decision-makers, 60 million senior-level influencers, and 10.7 million opinion leaders maintaining active accounts in this platform.
- While LinkedIn is the top social media platform of choice by B2B Digital Marketers, other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Slideshare, and Twitter can still be viable hunting grounds for generating valuable leads.
7) Email Marketing Takes on an Automated Face
Email marketing remains a strong and influential marketing force in the B2B Digital Marketplace. It is an excellent way of generating and nurturing leads and is still used heavily by up to 83% of B2B marketers.
In 2020, Email Marketing takes on a more automated face that will take this Digital Marketing tool to the next level.
- Adoption of automation in email marketing is focused on creating automated workflows that send a series of emails based on action and a pre-defined schedule. Up to 70%, higher open rates, and more than 152% higher clickthrough rates can be expected from automated emails, as compared to 21.33% open ratesof non-automated email messaging.
- Also known as transactional or behavioral emails, triggered emails are automatically sent when a prospect performs or accomplishes a pre-determined task. Triggered emails have up to a 50% higher chance of being opened over non-triggered emails, and have more likelihood for conversion.
The digital marketing arena is very dynamic and is continuously evolving. This statement holds not only for the B2C market but more so on the B2B community as well. Trends and technologies in B2B digital marketing are continually innovating, and there has never been a moment where these strategies turned stagnant or static.
That is why it is a must for B2B Digital Marketers to keep up with the pace of these trends, so they can immerse themselves in knowing what strategies they should maintain or change, and what innovations they should adopt and execute.
However, B2B Digital Marketers should understand that these trends are not only focused on the adoption of new technologies but in fully understanding how these technologies and strategies make them more effective in connecting and engaging with targeted B2B clientele in a sustainable and results-generating way.
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