- Greater focus on ABM
A report from HubSpot found that just 22% of companies consider their sales and marketing departments well aligned around the same goals – this is something account based marketing (ABM) looks to address. ABM is a business strategy that concentrates resources on a set of target accounts within a market. The key to ABM is that campaigns are personalised and targeted. Particularly for B2B firms with more complex and longer buying cycles, which typically involve a range of stakeholders to make a business decision – which is often high-value – ABM represents a more effective way of generating new business opportunities than relying on inbound results from much broader marketing campaigns. Many companies have already adopted an ABM strategy, and this will only increase in 2020.
- Predictive insights with AI
It wouldn’t be a 2020 B2B marketing trends overview without mentioning artificial intelligence (AI). Earlier this year, Salesforce reported that AI usage has seen a 23% growth amongst B2B marketers, who are increasingly using the technology from within their marketing platforms to optimise mid-cycle engagements. B2B marketers are using this to help create more personalised customer experiences, with content and messaging that is unique to them. By essentially analysing past behaviours, AI can help predict future ones, so B2B markets can anticipate a B2B buyers’ actions and communicate the right message to them at the right time. Research from Salesforce says that 69% of business buyers expect personalised, ‘Amazon-like’ customer experiences. AI is the way to achieve this.
- Popularity of video content continues to soar
A study from Cisco cites the sheer volume of video content that is now available, and how much is being consumed: ‘By 2020, there will be almost 1 million minutes of video per second crossing the Internet, with video traffic making up 82% of all consumer web traffic.’ Many B2B solutions can be complex and difficult to understand through text alone, with business buyers preferring video content to help explain the benefits a product or service can deliver. This video content can then be re-purposed and edited into smaller snippets, to use across a brand’s social media channels.
- Strengthened relationships with co-creation
Influencer marketing has proved itself an effective means of promoting a brand’s products or services through an influencer’s social channels. In 2020, however, it seems likely that these partnerships will improve further still, by many forward-thinking B2B brands getting influencers involved with product development, and therefore ‘co-creating’ products and services.
Through the influencers’ network, co-creation helps give an audience a front row seat into the thinking and work that goes into developing the latest solutions, with many products, events and updates then announced first on social channels. This provides audiences with a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the brand, demonstrating their innovation, creativity and values. It even offers a brand’s target audience the opportunity to then feedback on developments while they’re underway, and savvy B2B brands can look to implement these recommendations and suggestions as part of the solution too. B2C brands have already began to enjoy success with co-creation campaigns, and 2020 will see B2B businesses getting in on the action too.
- Telling your story
Finally, while to suggest that we’re living in anything other than a digital age nowadays, it’s important that B2B marketers do not let data solely dictate their creative output. This is a sentiment echoed recently by Susie Donaldson, European Marketing Director at camera giant Canon, at a conference held by The Drum. She said: “Data only really tells you one side of the story. It doesn’t always tell you whether your story was truly interesting. Quite often, that’s something you’ll only really know in your heart.”
So, while the most effective means of B2B marketing is constantly evolving, the best way of reaching B2B customers is still through the stories that you tell them. They are, after all, humans at the end of the day, and if you can market to them in a way that excites them, makes them ask questions and moves them to take action, then you are doing your job right.