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10 trends in B2B marketing - In with the old, out with the new?

The evolving B2B marketing trends reveal that tried and true strategies like email campaigns are back in vogue while the term ‘digital advertising’ is outdated. With content marketing, marketing automation, paid amplification and mobile optimization seen as emerging trends, ad blocking and BOT- fraud will increasingly pose challenges to B2B marketers. Here are ten B2B marketing trends to be on the look out for.

1. The Term 'digital marketing' is becoming obsolete

Findings from the Gartner 2015-2016 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey clearly show that the term “digital marketing” is on the wane. The survey reports that many chief marketing officers are “done” with the term digital marketing – it’s just called marketing now. The report states that 98 per cent of marketers no longer make a clear distinction between marketing online and offline and say the disciplines are merging. However, only about a third those surveyed said that digital marketing techniques are fully incorporated into the overall marketing operation. While the term “digital marketing’ may feel overused, some marketing teams still have a learning curve ahead of them.

2.Innovation remains a key goal

The Gartner survey reveals that nearly a third of the marketers have allotted 10 per cent of their marketing budget to investing in innovation. According to the report, executives are looking for the best in technology when it comes to converting leads into sales revenue. Currently, the most sought after areas of innovation include marketing analytics, social/mobile listening centers and digital marketing hubs.

Additionally, executive expectations of the role of the marketing team are focused on driving innovation with 71 per cent of respondents surveyed said they have discrete funding for innovation. The Gartner survey suggests involving sales and marketing teams in an ongoing effort to identify short-term, midterm and long-term innovation opportunities.

3. Customer experience still an individual one

As today’s B2B marketers have begun to recognize how individual experience can be a driver of both business differentiation and profitability, companies need to focus on the entire experience for a customer regardless of channel or device and in a way that is consistent with your long-term brand promise.

In a recent white paper, Forrester Research predicted that “in 2016, leaders will understand and anticipate individual needs to deliver personalized experiences, sharply increasing their lead in the market.”

4. Advocate marketing builds loyalty

For 84 per cent of B2B buyers, word-of-mouth is the primary influence on purchasing decisions, according to a CustomerAdvocacy report. Referrals have long been considered one of the most valuable forms of marketing, where clients tend to remain loyal over a long period of time.

Advocate marketing software platforms help marketers build advocate relationships with clients by increasing social media engagement, generating more reviews and capturing referrals. These platforms use customized portals where firms invite their best customers to participate in challenges and provide feedback.

5. Sales enablement offers buyer insight

Sales enablement, providing buyer insight, pre-built “nurture campaigns”, maintaning “top of mind” presence and building trusted releationships are key promises of sales enablement tools.

The goal of sales enablement is to ensure that your sales team has the required knowledge, insights, content and processes to optimize every interaction with prospective clients, according to a report by Oracle Marketing Cloud.

Sales enablement helps to give a more complete view of motivations, behavior and “digital body language” while marketing can enable sales to engage with prospects.

6. Marketing apps gain ground

Whether mobile apps or on-site web apps, more B2B firms will find ways to incorporate apps as part of their marketing strategy. Web apps can turn a static web page into something more functional and interactive that better engages users and can help to convert users into leads. Apps can enable sales to engage with prospects by providing quick access to nurture campaigns into which salespeople can drop prospects that are not yet ready to purchase.

Additionally, Apps assist B2B firms involved in content marketing, who produce content frequently, and have a loyal audience, or attend mobile tradeshows, events and/or networking opportunities.

7. Email marketing stays in the game

There is a clear trend towards a more effective use of email marketing from B2B companies, a survey suggests.

And, the move to mobile and wearables may explain why. A study from Moveable Ink found that in the first quarter of 2015, 67 per cent of all U.S. email opens occurred on a mobile device — and 75 per cent of those were smartphones. The growth in mobile opens is staggering and the shift is undeniable with mobile tablets and wearables being dubbed the “new inbox."

The need to ensure email messaging adapts to the new technology, and create “mobile friendly” messages is a key challenge for marketers. While the days of the email blast is on the wane, a more personal, focused approach to email marketing is still a very viable technique for B2B marketers.

8. Content marketing will evolve and grow

A new report released by PulsePoint found that by 2017, content marketing budgets are projected to double and 83 per cent of marketers believe content marketing will go “programmatic” by 2017.

The report notes that 60 per cent of agencies and brands view content marketing as very significant to their overall marketing strategy. In fact, 61 per cent of publishers say content marketing is significant or very significant in terms of their revenue models, and a close 54 per cent say the same about native advertising. Additionally, the report estimates that content marketing and native growth will outpace

display and search.

9. Online advertising disruption

Ad blocking is increasingly a challenge to B2B marketers, and the practice grew by 48 per cent this year with 198 million active ad block users globally, according to a report from Pagefair. In fact, it is estimated that the click-through rate across all ad formats and placements is only 0.06 per cent. Users can be more discretionary than ever about which content they want and what they don’t.

10. BOT-fraud is on the rise

Bot-fraud is also causing pretty substantial issues for advertisers who are projected to lose $6.3bn globally to bots in 2015. Bot-fraud detection company White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers recently analyzed over 3 million websites and found that bot visitors were rampant across the websites of major publishers and brands, inflating the monetized audiences of those sites by 5 to 50 per cent. The research also found that bots accounted for 23 per cent of all video impressions observed, 11 per cent of all display impressions, and 19 per cent of all retargeted ads.

Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

All by Laurie