8 Hot B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

Posted on Feb 9, 2016 by Kerry O'Malley

A businessman looking through binoculars, seeing conflicting trends in earnings prediction, can be used for business vision or business prediction concept

We’ve previously discussed the idea of 2016 Marketing Goals That Will Increase Sales and wanted to continue on the topic. While that piece focused on setting and meeting goals we think are essential in 2016, below we take a harder look at what the trends and practices for B2B marketing will be in the coming year, as well as share tips for how to stay on top of it all.

1. Focus on Content Marketing
As reported by Mobile Marketing Watch, content marketing is expected to be the biggest B2B marketing trend for 2016. In a related report, another firm also named content marketing the leading trend due to its ability to deliver results for all sorts of brands. The report named it as the leading tactic for lead generation with 43% of pro’s citing it as number one. This is why it is no surprise that over half of all B2B marketing professionals have planned to increase their content marketing budget for 2016. Simply saying you’re the best doesn’t cut it any more. Savvy buyers do their research (primarily on the Internet) before ever reaching out to a vendor. If you don’t have different types of content available that SHOW how you’re the best, you’ll be missing opportunities.

2. Video is King
Did you know that a video link is 75% more likely to be clicked on than a text link? YouTube is the 2nd largest browser in the world (2nd only to Google); although Facebook is advancing YouTube in the numbers of videos uploaded and viewed, and they are making it easier for businesses to very specifically target the right audience for their videos. There’s just no way around it: people (and especially millennials) are becoming numb to text. They want to see dynamic content, and right now, there’s no easier (or less expensive option) than video. Companies no longer have to spend money on one big-budget production. In fact, marketers can spend smaller amounts on short-form videos that speak specifically to a custom audience, meaning more frequent, more relevant video content. This bite-sized video trend also makes it possible for smaller to medium sized businesses to be noticed, empowering them to be seen in a similar way with larger competitors.

3. Cross Channel Strategies
15 years ago, when a new product or service was available, a B2B would simply put out a press release and print a few marketing materials. Even a few years ago, the same business may write a blog and post something on social media. In the coming year, marketing professionals are expected to utilize all technologies and tactics to align information and share it across all available channels. In 2016, B2B’s are expected to use a combination of webinars and blog posts in order to tell the story of the product or service and finish with the establishment of an email list, in addition to social media and search engine advertising campaigns to gain traffic. Taking a cue from #2 in this post, a video should also be produced and spread throughout multiple channels.

4. Customers Need A Personal Touch
With all this new technology and emphasis on getting attention, businesses can forget that the customer comes first, and building the relationship through old fashioned methods like a phone call or meeting are essential. Even new fashioned ways of direct contact with a customer like Skype, Google Chat, GotoMeeting or WebEx, or Face Time can pay off big by putting a face on your business. What does this mean in simple terms? If a customer contacts you via email or through a form, try giving them a call rather than sending them a standard, bland response email or worse: auto-reply. Ask for a face-to-face meeting when applicable. Yes, it’s cliché: but at the end of the day, people do business with people. Technology is a wonderful thing; but it’s still a human being that has to say “yes” to a purchase or sign a contract. This trend is crossing over from B2C marketing, where it is understood that today’s consumers are more likely to buy from a company they feel they “know”.

5. Advocate Marketing Trumps Traditional Advertising
No matter how much money you spend, nothing quite promotes your business like having an impartial and trust-worthy third party tout the merits of your goods and services. Whether through an online review, referral discounts, or even a simple verbal request for your satisfied customers to tell their friends, this easy and free strategy can pay off big. This is especially true for those B2Bs who only have a handful of customers. Still don’t believe us? A Customer Advocacy report stated that 84% of B2B buyers cited word of mouth as the primary influence on their purchasing decisions. Supported by quality content such as case histories and White Papers, buyers are relying more and more on the results of others’ experiences working with your company. What have you done for others that will also benefit them?

6. “Digital Marketing” Becomes “Marketing”
The term “digital marketing” is also expected to become more obsolete in the coming year, if not scrapped all together. This is because outside of the industrial, B2B world, most marketing is done digitally, and in the case of some B2B businesses, all marketing is digital as well, i.e. done through PPC campaigns, online advertising, email newsletters, videos, social media, and content marketing. In fact, there is even a study stating 98% of marketing pros no longer make the distinction between online and offline marketing and instead say the two are merging.

7. Mobile Matters
 Starting last year, Google announced it would penalize companies who did not have mobile friendly websites, especially when searches were done from a mobile device. This is more important than ever given that more searches are done via mobile than desktop. However according to Ring Ring Marketing, there was a delay in Google’s penalizing of non-mobile, non-responsive sites, an error that may be remedied in the coming year. So in short, if you missed the 2015 deadline to make your website mobile friendly and responsive, there is still time to make the change before Google notices. Mobile Internet use increases daily: don’t take this trend lightly.

8. Marketing Automation Gains Importance
 The demand for marketing automation partnerships between companies and platforms that support content, marketing, and sales efforts grew substantially in 2015 and is expected to continue in the coming year. Although the goal of a marketing automation platform (MAP) is to streamline and simplify the process of marketing, a recent report found that data issues were the key blockers for earning a decent ROI. This is one of the reasons why 40% of respondents admitted in a survey they never practice more advanced marketing automation tactics such as customer profiling and personalization due to the complexity of the platform. In 2016, the trend seems to be businesses hiring marketing professionals to set up, execute, and modify the MAP as needed to ensure the best ROI.

Need help with your industrial, B2B marketing in 2016?
If you have questions or want to know more about how to navigate these and other B2B marketing trends, contact us today for a no obligation consultation.

Author: Kerry O'Malley

omalley@marketectsinc.com

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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