Every year in our blog we predict the B2B marketing trends that we will experience the following year. Now that we are half way through 2017 we wanted to review the trends we predicted to see what was accurate and report on what we actually have experienced to date. We predicted:
1. More Sales Online – B2B marketing is learning from B2C merchandising and serving up self-serve models to give clients what they want immediately without talking to a sales person.
The reality is that many B2B companies are still debating how or sometimes if they should make part of their solution available online. Not every business or solution is able to be sold without a consultative approach requiring some human intervention first. And, B2B solutions can vary so much, that a transactional sales approach of comparing prices won’t work. So, while we haven’t yet seen this trend take off, we are certainly having the conversation more during our strategic planning sessions. And, we are always considering what, if anything, can be given for free to eliminate any purchase indecision.
2. Repurpose to Save Money – Or is it to help combat fatigue? This is digging into your blog or whitepaper archive to refresh and update that aged content or just bring good content back into circulation.
This prediction was the most accurate. We are seeing examples of this everywhere and doing it ourselves. Read our blog to learn more about it. There are a few reasons we attribute the success of this trend.
- Content is expensive to produce and there is good value with recycling older content that is still of interest.
- The fatigue of consistently generating enough content to be heard above all of the other efforts can be allayed by revisiting popular or useful content and taking a creative spin.
- The fact that users are expecting more and more content to be un-gated means that you have a shorter amount of time to generate marketing qualified leads so repurposing content makes sense.
Regardless of the reason, we know this trend is here to stay.
3. Increase in Paid Search – With more options from the social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter and Google changing their model to reduce certainty around search volumes, how could we go wrong with this prediction?
Another accurate prediction. We are using these social media channels more than ever and seeing higher clicks at a lower click through rate (CTR). And we’re getting more impressions. These kinds of results make any digital marketer feel successful and as long as these kinds of numbers continue, we predict this trend will become permanent. Add to the fact that Google changed their reporting on search volumes late in 2016 making it difficult to plan out a campaign with the same accuracy as before – unless you’re spending a significant amount of money. And what about those users who are on Private Browsing as they search? Are they represented?
We saw search volumes drop once Google instituted the change and are still adjusting to how we plan and execute Adwords campaigns.
4. User Generated Content – This is building engagement from your clients and prospects and having them generate content for you. It’s not as simple as it appears and many B2B companies haven’t yet found the recipe to do this satisfactorily.
Well, we did not get this one right. Not yet anyway. Consumer brands seem to have a greater ability to engage their customers and B2B marketing is still finding its voice and strategies to ensure success with user generated content. A number of issues could be affecting the ability of this trend to take off. Typically, B2B companies have less customers than consumer brands so less people equals less opportunity for engagement. Or, the Millennials, who are attributed to this trend haven’t quite moved to B2B marketing engagement. We find that we need to be more creative in how we build engagement through our communication channels.
5. Video Content – We predicted that the number of videos would increase, caused by the fact that less polished (and therefore less expensive) videos shot on a smartphone will outnumber the higher production costs of an animated or location shoot video. And these videos are no longer seen as amateur or cheapening the brand. We also thought that the costs for the higher production videos would decrease.
And, we were correct! We’re doing more videos than ever. We’re seeing more produced at a lower production quality and everyone is happy about that. It is not decreasing engagement. We were, however, quite wrong about the prices coming down for those higher production videos. We like the large number of video options we have to present to our clients and are thrilled to use this communication channel more than ever.
It is more obvious than ever that it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay on top of the trends and adapt tactics to build brand awareness and generate leads. It is not possible to sit back and continue with the same tactics that you were doing 24 months ago. If you would like a review of your current marketing strategy and tactics, please connect with us.