Content Marketing

7 Top B2B Marketing Trends in 2017

Business-to-business (B2B) might have existed for decades, but only recently has it started receiving special focus from marketers. At the core of B2B marketing is business selling products or services to another company. For instance, if a large retailer is looking to buy computers for all its employees. This is not a simple transaction as when you want to buy a computer for your personal use.

The growth of B2B marketing is best demonstrated in numbers. According to PwC, the industry is predicted to grow annually at a 12.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through to 2018. The market has now fully gone digital with most marketers now leveraging online tools to reach their target audience. 90% of B2B marketers were expected to spend 8% more on digital marketing in 2016 alone.

These are indeed interesting times for any B2B marketer and if you want to enjoy the best ROI in your business, you have to keep abreast with the changes. The internet market is a highly volatile environment and now that more focus will be in this area, it is imperative to learn what is trending today in order to tweak your marketing strategy.

Here are some of the trending strategies that you should be focusing on in 2017 if you want to stay ahead of the peak:

1. B2B Marketing Automation

If there is one technology that every B2B marketer should be exploiting today, it has to be marketing automation. Unfortunately, numbers from a 2016 Smart Insight Survey show most marketers are behind in automation yet most barriers and hurdles.

This remains an area that can be tapped into in order to generate and nurture leads more proactively in the purchase journey. Through lead scoring and lead grading, it becomes easier to utilize the best marketing automation strategy that can also be fused with remarketing for the best ROI.

2. Visual B2B Content Marketing

While B2C marketers have already embraced video marketing, making it a major driver for internet traffic, most B2B marketers are yet to harness the full potential of visual marketing. According to a HubSpot Survey, B2C marketers place greater emphasis on video marketing than B2B marketers.

This is bound to change with more advances in video, making it easier for B2B marketers to leverage visuals in their marketing. Visuals including video, infographics, images on social media and blogs are going to be a game changer in the industry.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning might have sounded like a futuristic adventure when Google was talking about the concept a few years back, but today, this is a reality that is even being used in business.

Artificial intelligence will be integrated into marketing media more and more as B2B businesses seek to get more insight into their customers. Use of AI technology will boost better decision making as marketers will not have the correct data to leverage.

4. B2B Content Marketing

According to Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing but more plan to leverage the strategy more comprehensively in 2017. Why so? The idea of content marketing has been given prominence by the advent of social media marketing and blogs. The focus is now shifting from creation of any content and instead focusing on long, in-depth articles and blog posts that offer more insights into relevant topics.

There is need to have a more documented content marketing strategy that embraces the ongoing developments and changes in search engine algorithms. There will also be less focus on quantity and more emphasis on quality. Content formats will also change with a shift expected from text towards video and graphics, podcasts, infographics among other interactive content.

5. Influencer B2B Marketing

While influence marketing is nothing new in marketing, it is bound to change how B2B marketing is done in 2017. Well, everyone has some influence but the weight of your influence must matter to the target audience. You have to find people who already have influence in your market and leverage their reputation to find valuable leads.

More importantly, start focusing on micro-influencers on social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube though they might seem to have less influence due to the number of followers. These influencers focus more on a specific topic and their word is more trusted by businesses looking to buy.

6. Account-based B2B Marketing (ABM)

This is now considered a more effective strategy as opposed to inbound marketing. If you are looking for new ways to generate income, then ABM should be part of your strategic review in 2017. B2B firms feature mostly complex sales cycles that are long and complicated.

Through Account-based marketing (ABM), you will now focus on targeting specific contacts at particular businesses that you want to sell to or where you have previously been engaged. ABM boasts higher close rates for targeted enterprise accounts and it facilitates closer collaboration with your firm’s sales and development ideas.

7. Customer-Centered Approach

Customer is always king and this maxim is even more pronounced today in the B2B marketing scene. The role of customer experience (CX) can no longer be ignored and for this reason, B2B marketers have to adopt a customer-approach to every aspect of their marketing campaigns. The industry is going to be inflicted much more by the consumer experiences in order to win over more targeted customers and build customer loyalty.
Customer experience is expected to become the major brand differentiator by 2020 rather than price and products. This means the businesses have to change how goods and services are delivered. A customer-centric strategy is what your business needs going forward in 2017.
It is also important for B2B businesses to handle their debt more proactively to boost their bottom-line. B2B industry has for a long time been stifled by debts and this is detrimental especially for smaller businesses that don’t have excess capital to rely on and continue seamless distribution.

Luckily, now now offers much needed reprieve for small businesses struggling to pay off their debts through debt relief programs specifically designed for businesses.