As the year rolls to a close, marketers are planning, preparing and strategizing based on new B2B marketing trends to expect in 2017.

Is mobile a big contender for grabbing market share in the B2B space? Is content still relevant, and if so, how? Is marketing more targeted, driving clicks, likes, shares and purchase power towards a particular funnel not just “a sales funnel”? All of the above?

One thing is clear, technology continues to influence the way shoppers research and buy, and the B2B world is no exception. In 2017, digital marketing in the B2B space is the standard for any organization looking to actually connect with and influence customers at each step of the buyer journey.

The real question is, how organized is your internal workflow? Are teams collaborating to create content efficiently that resonates with customers? Is it easy to locate? Does it drive them to the right funnel within the buyer’s journey? More importantly, is your organization creating clear “moments” that inspire potential buyers to:

  • Conduct research
  • Visit your site or sales page
  • Actively use a smartphone to connect with your brand
  • Buy your product or service

Exploring the trends for B2B marketing in 2017 can move your organization closer to craft a strategic blend of digital tools, content, and the ability to leverage key buyer data that gets conversions. Are you ready?

Things to Watch for in B2B Marketing in 2017 to Improve Brand Awareness, Conversions, and the Customer Experience

Even though B2B organizations can benefit from the following trends, not even the most flawlessly implemented trend will work without a documented marketing strategy that’s clear, proven and repeatable. According to Content Marketing Institute, many organizations are still not implementing this key step, so here is your friendly reminder to start there first! It’s the backbone that supports any B2B marketing trends you implement.

Now, onto the innovations…

Mobile

Mobile madness is more than a trend; it’s a game changer. Does your organization have a clear idea of how much customer interest comes through mobile traffic? If it’s more than 25%, it might be time to offer your content through a customized mobile App. Marketing apps foster interactive engagement and collect more accurate “intent” data from visitors. This helps B2B’s build better buyer personas profiles and makes it easier for potential clients to find the content they want, then consume it in bite size pieces. B2B organizations can also explore using a 3rd party app that enables text chat with customers.

Account-Based Marketing

Account-Based Marketing. Account-based marketing focuses on collaboration among all teams, engaging sales, marketing SMEs, delivery and executives to determine when and how to best meet the client’s needs. These high-level combined efforts are good as an overall marketing strategy but can be customized specifically to target to high-value current clients. A one-team mentality also improves efficiency and increases revenue from marketing, while using fewer resources.

Dissecting the sales funnel and marketing to specific segments – TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, ROFU. When it comes to lead nurturing, look beyond the funnel and see it in segments. Content and marketing efforts need to be tailored to hit specific parts of the funnel – awareness (top of the funnel), evaluation (middle of the funnel), purchase (bottom of the funnel), and last but not least, retention. By really getting to know the customer and their behaviors through sales analytics, B2B organizations can begin to forecast needs and create campaigns that are hyper- targeted to a specific segment of the funnel.

Native Advertising

Native advertising will become more commonplace. Native advertising is a paid form of content marketing where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience according to each customers’ preference. In other words, native ads match the visual design and content interaction experience familiar to the user and feel natural when they interact with it. According to Joe Pulizzi Content Marketing Institute, “Five years ago, enterprises were spending 80% on content creation and 20% on content promotion. I believe this ratio has switched, with successful enterprises creating differentiated content and putting some advertising and promotion muscle behind it.”

Marketing Automation 2.0

Marketing automation will increase and become more personalized. As marketers already know, marketing automation is just getting started. To play on its information gathering abilities, this trend will move towards multi-step landing pages and welcome features that help nurture a lead, while profiling the customer into a buyer persona. Email is still a staple here, combined with strong, dynamic content that’s role-specific and delivered seamlessly through various strategic marketing channels.

Paid Media

Paid media options that focus on segmented re-marketing. A large, diverse customer base has very distinct needs and may be resting at various parts of the buyer’s journey. To improve the customer experience and target customers directly, create different lists based on each customer’s journey through your website and target them with different bids or ads. Google does a great job of breaking down the details. 
The increase in insight-driven marketing plans and processes. Take what you learn from marketing campaign results and other data and work it back into campaigns immediately. The more B2B organizations use what’s learned and work it back into 90-day strategy sprints, the faster results improve.

Predictive Data & Live Chats

Leveraging predictive data. Regarding trends, this one is a leap into the post-digital landscape. If B2B organizations are collecting useful data effectively and leveraging the insights from analytics, it can be used for predictive purposes. Maximizing this aspect of data mining enables organizations to forecast probabilities and trends – without relying on the rules set up around a specific customer interaction. Instead, they can access and use historical data.

Proactively starting targeted live chats. As a current tool on larger B2B websites, the live chat feature will continue to grow in popularity for companies of all sizes.

Putting passion, creativity and innovation into offerings. With more prospects self-educating, an emotional quotient to marketing is vitally important. Personalization is already a key factor for 2017, now add the passion.

Automated Sales Bots

Yes, it’s not only a possibility but a probability. Just think of it like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo.

No matter how the trends for B2B marketing pan out in 2017, one thing remains clear. How can you get your content to be clear and accessible throughout the customer journey and create a real content experience? Any new trend listed here needs great content and a commitment to collaboration among teams to be effective and speak to the hearts and minds of customers.

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.

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