As 2017 takes its last gasp, marketers are already thinking about the 2018 B2B digital marketing trends that will occupy their headspace in the upcoming year. We eavesdropped on our industry peers’ online conversations to see what they anticipate for the future, and what topics have set their tongues wagging.
1. Marketing automation
‘Marketing automation is investment priority #1 for marketers in 2018.’ - Steve Lucas, CEO, Marketo
Machines could be making more of your marketing decisions in 2018 - if 2017 is anything to go by. According to statistics, on average 51% of companies are using marketing automation, and more than half of B2B companies (58%) plan to adopt the technology. The biggest benefits of moving to an automated system are time savings, increased customer engagement, more timely communications, and greater opportunities to upsell to loyal customers. If your content marketing efforts have stalled at the station, 2018 will be the year to hop on the automated marketing locomotive.
‘Account-based marketing initiatives are going to get seriously sophisticated.’ - Nicole Munoz, CEO, StartRankingNow
Although account based marketing has been all the rage for some time, there is still a large gap to close in terms of marketer savviness. Now that we are officially in a post-Truth world, where skepticism is at an all time high, marketers are finding it harder to engage consumers and gain their trust. The same distrust permeates into the B2B world, where irrelevant mailouts and brands who haven't taken the time to understand painpoints are swiftly sent to trash. However, business will have to stop thinking about account based marketing with sales, and start talking about B2B inbound marketing in 2018.
3. Influencer marketing
‘B2C brands have really embraced the idea of co-creation and democratized content creation, and working with influencers is one element of that. Only 11% of B2B marketers have ongoing [influencer] programs. That's a sign of B2B lagging." - Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing
Up until now, B2B marketers have generally felt that user-generated content didn’t have a place in their marketing strategy. The lack of clear conversion functionality and ability to drive customers to a website had many marketers screwing their noses up in distaste. However, that could change in 2018 as the benefits of creating an impression of the brand that isn’t conversion-focused, becomes important. B2B influencer marketing works at any stage of the buyer's journey - not just for lead generation. It can also show off the company culture to other key stakeholders, namely employees. Expect more businesses to hire marketers with social media know-how and specialisms in 2018 - people who understand the psychology behind what motivates audiences to engage with corporate videos and pictures.
‘General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could mean Doomsday, or the chance at a fresh approach.’ - Simon Fryer, CEO, KISS Communications
GDPR has been hunkered down like some nightmarish creature preparing to ascend from the deep abyss - and 2018 is the year that it moves ashore. B2B digital marketers are terrified. But as the saying goes, what doesn’t swallow you whole (or something like that) can only make you stronger. GDPR could have that effect on marketing over the course of the next year. ‘GDPR heralds the next evolution: specific messages to specific groups,’ wrote Simon on LinkedIn Pulse. ‘It’s an opportunity to ensure you’re communicating with an engaged audience, and that your message is going to resonate with them.’
5. Quality over quantity
‘Look for less emphasis on the sheer quantity of content, and more focus on creating quality, original, thought-leadership-oriented content’ - Tim Asimos, VP & director of digital, circle S studio
The content quantity vs. quality debate has been raging on for almost as long as the internet has been in existence. Some feel churning out the maximum number of blogs per week is better than spending hours crafting a quality piece of content, and vice versa. Ultimately Google decides on what’s good and what’s bad. Many industry experts wait with bated breath to see how its algorithm changes with each update. Most recently they speculated that Google shunned websites with dodgy SEO techniques on the basis it thatimpact the quality of content. Increasingly, it's quality over quantity for the world’s most popular search engine - that will continue into the new year.
6. Desktop isn’t dead
‘Desktop isn’t dead - yet. Marketers have gotten carried away with all things mobile, when most conversions are still happening on desktop. The bounce rates have been high on mobile and conversions from campaigns have been low. Don’t get carried away with only mobile targeted strategies.’ - Prashanth Jagadeesh, Managing Partner, BizInventive
Have you spent much of 2017 walking around like desktop just died? Well, 2018 could be the year that it is resuscitated, or sustained a little longer on life-support at least. According to the statistics, desktop computers are still performing better than mobile on campaign conversions - especially in the world of B2B, where you’re actively trying to grab the attention of people during their working hours (as opposed during to their downtime). Better retrieve that monitor and tower from the trash.