B2B marketing often lags behind consumer-facing efforts. But in the past several years, big data, AI, and programmatic media have revolutionized the practice. B2B marketers have access to considerable insights that let them better identify and engage with their prospects.
Like the ocean, the marketing landscape continually ebbs and flows. New platforms, strategies, and regulations have the potential to make big waves in 2019, bringing with them new opportunities for the organizations that are prepared.
Here are three developing stories that have the power to shape B2B marketing in 2019 and beyond.
The big platforms’ talk about B2B will remain empty
There is no doubt that Google and Facebook earn a lot of B2B revenue, but neither company has truly planted a stake in the ground with a specific B2B marketing product. Google announced an intent product more than a year ago, but it hasn’t materialized. Facebook carries a lot of B2B audience campaigns, but they are driven by deterministic data that is owned by the marketers. Although both companies continue to dominate online ad sales, neither seems to truly have a plan for moving forward in B2B. The good news is that this means a thriving B2B marketing ecosystem can continue to grow, independent of the big players.
ABM is the beginning of B2B marketing strategies (not the end)
Despite the recent buzz, ABM isn’t new. Sales teams (and, in some cases, marketing) have been organized around accounts and named accounts for decades. The practice has practically become synonymous with B2B marketing itself. And, as with marketing in general, B2B sellers are finding that ABM comes in many forms, formats, and flavors — and the best strategy depends on your resources.
This can be as simple as running an ABM campaign with a digital full-service provider, or as elaborate as creating unique predictive scoring models. What works for some companies won’t work for others, and there’s no single ABM strategy that can be universally applied from one company to another;there’s just too much difference between product, customer buying journey, pipeline velocity, marketing stack sophistication, and sales team alignment.
Regardless, all substantial B2B marketers should adopt and experiment with ABM strategies to drive engagement and pipeline, so they’re aligned with the sales team, and vice versa. B2B success in 2019 hinges on sales and marketing alignment, and ABM is a simple way to enforce that alignment across an organization.
2019 will bring a B2B data shakeout
One of the challenges that lies ahead for B2B marketing is the poor quality and the duplicative nature of B2B data. Most B2B data originates from offline sources, which is inherently stale and inaccurate. Online data collection and analysis continues to grow, but new laws such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are already altering the course of innovation.
These are welcome and much-needed regulations, but they place a much greater burden on data purveyors to ensure that businesses comply. Data players that can’t adhere to these regulations are already feeling squeezed, and that will continue well into this year and beyond. Providers that can’t meet the compliance threshold will be forced to aggregate data from other sources or close up shop all together.
While that’s tough for the providers, it’s good news for B2B marketers. Poor data collection practices generally result in poor quality or duplicative data. As these players are weeded out by the new regulations, the marketplace is left with only high-quality data sellers that adhere to the rules and regulations, delivering much more value to marketing and sales teams in the long term.
B2B marketers who pay heed as these trends unfold will be better positioned to respond to, and perhaps even get ahead of, them.
Erik Matlick is cofounder and chief executive officer of Bombora