With the continuing technological revolution, the future of B2B marketing will look much different than the marketing we see today. However, with the upcoming changes that will change the way the B2B world operates, it’s important not to forget the fundamentals that drive business transactions and interactions.
Here are the trends that will define the successes and failures of B2B marketing in the coming months and years…
B2B Internet Use Has Just Started
The impact of the internet on B2B marketing has been extraordinary and broad, but in many ways it is just beginning.
Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trend Report pointed out that business, though it has been impacted significantly by internet and technology, still has a ways to go.
B2B communications tools, such as Slack and Knote, are hoping to rid the corporate world of the email headache, once and for all. Other tools, from project management software to marketing automation tech, are still in their infancy.
Another key growth area for B2B in the internet sphere is ecommerce. Companies such as Alibaba have proven that ecommerce isn’t just viable for B2B transactions, it’s extremely profitable. All major research that has reviewed the B2B ecommerce world expects to see an increase in the number and quality of B2B ecommerce solutions in the coming years.
In the coming years, expect to see enterprise technology mature, and, with it, the B2B marketing industry.
Social Media Will Become a Staple
Many marketers jumped on board the social media train immediately, while others continue to hesitate. The reason for this hesitation has mostly to do with the difficulty in tracking ROI.
While direct-response advertising can be precisely measured, calculated, and optimized, social media marketing is amorphous and difficult to track.
This is changing, however, as social networks integrate media-rich ads and payment functionality directly in their platforms. Also, improved analytics and tracking mechanisms will enhance marketers’ ability to measure their campaigns, which will likely increase social media spend.
Research has demonstrated that social selling does generate returns. In fact, Statista expects to see social selling create $30 billion or so by the end of the year.
As returns on social selling and social media marketing become more measurable, expect to see bigger budgets and more measurable ROI. Though many B2B marketing professionals are using social media, expect it to become a staple in the near future, replete with best practices and standards.
Expect Content Marketing to Change
The internet is changing, technology is changing, and media consumption is changing. Major trends that are shaping marketing in 2015 will also affect the B2B marketing world.
Major trends that we see impacting content marketing include:
- Video – It’s widely acknowledged that people are consuming and demanding more video than ever, so we’re seeing the digital world cater to those needs. Consumers, however, aren’t the only ones who demand this video – studies have shown that B2B buyers, from executives to influencers, also use video during their research and decision-making process.
- Social – Social networks aren’t just for baby pictures any more. Business people also use social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to build their professional networks, sell their products and services, and establish thought leadership.
- Mobile – We’ve seen a rapid increase in mobile applications that cater to the B2B professional. From social networking apps to collaboration tools to productivity apps, the B2B world is quickly adapting to the mobile workspace. As mobile continues to grow and become a more powerful asset for the work world, expect its marketing potential to increase accordingly.
B2B Marketers Will Get the Hang of the Internet
Also, expect online marketing as a discipline to change.
In the past, many B2B marketers were engaged in these new forms of marketing without really understanding what they were doing or how to make the most of these new media. And that’s understandable – everyone’s new to these digital media.
Social media marketers and content marketers, for instance, have had trouble measuring performance and calculating ROI. As best practices, such as documentation of marketing strategies, become more widespread, these kinks will be worked out.
It will be critical for B2B marketers to keep up with the ever-changing marketing ecosystem…those that don’t will be left behind.
Fundamentals Will Be More Important than Ever
Ultimately, the fundamentals of marketing will become more important than ever. As many B2B executives have noted, the internet is revolutionizing the B2B marketing world, at the risk of disconnecting us from the core fundamentals that allow businesses to thrive.
According to LinkedIn executives, the key to staying successful in the B2B marketing world is using technology to enhance and optimize relationships, which form the core foundation of any business interaction.
For instance, Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, said, “The future of B2B marketing is data, every nuance, every preference, every interaction…all for the purpose of doing exactly what we all started out doing, having a real, relevant conversation with the buyer.”