Jan 09, 2018

5 Critical B2B Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

The big thing about working online is keeping up with how quickly and how much the industry changes. Because of the dynamic nature of the internet, sweeping changes can be introduced to a single industry in just a matter of weeks. To keep your marketing strategy effective, you must stay on your toes and constantly adapt your plan of execution to the latest trends. In this post, I’ll help you do just that by introducing five of the most prominent movements in B2B inbound marketing right now, as well as how you can exploit each one to boost your marketing campaigns.

1. Mobile

You knew this was coming. One of the few relatively stable trends in B2B inbound marketing, mobile continues to assume its place as king of digital marketing strategy.

In 2017, your target audience spent 69% of their time-consuming media on mobile (comScore). Today, more than 71% of companies believe that mobile is “core” to their marketing strategy, and 68% already have a mobile marketing strategy in place (Salesforce). Mobile has begun taking over as the principal way people consume content.

Consequently, your B2B marketing strategy needs to continue optimizing the content and media you publish for mobile consumption. First of all, ensure that your website itself is mobile-optimized. It should be as easy for users to navigate on small screens as on desktops.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is sufficiently mobile-friendly, either get a focus group to try it out and give you feedback or use Google’s own mobile optimization tester to figure out how you can improve.

2. Interactive Content

Another trend that’s been continuing to gain traction is the use of interactive content. Marketers have finally figured out that one of the best ways to build user engagement is to get them to interact with content, rather than simply reading/viewing it.

Many different types of interactive content exist, each of which have their own pros and cons. To figure out which ones are right for your marketing strategy, you’ll need to test a few different formats and track engagement to assess the most effective content formats.

Let’s quickly explore three of the most common types of interactive content:

Web-based tools: The mobile optimization tool linked to above is an excellent example of this. When visitors use a tool to interact with a website, they become invested in the result and are thus engaged.

Quizzes: Initially, quizzes as a content type may evoke mental images of Buzzfeed’s latest “Which superhero are you?” clickbait, which is hardly appropriate for a B2B context. However, not all quizzes need be created in that fashion.

In the image above, Runzheimer draws in users with a quiz-format assessment to help them discover how much money they could save using the company’s mileage reimbursement tool. Of course, visitors will be curious as to the result and begin interacting with the quiz. After all, who doesn’t want to save money?

Video tours/demos: Demonstrating your products/services through a video tour or an online demo user can navigate through are great ways to show prospects the value of your product.

3. Influencer Connections

One of the easiest ways to establish a social media presence is through influencer marketing. The phenomenon of social proof dictates that people listen to endorsements from those people they already look up to and respect.

If you can get a few key influencers in your industry on your side and singing your company’s praises to their audiences, your social media presence will increase credibility very quickly.

4. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation continues to gain ground in the B2B inbound marketing world and going into 2018  it’s more important than ever.

Automation tools encompass a significant array of functions that other tools just aren’t capable of offering. These functions include those such as lead scoring, prospect nurturing, CRM integration and similar features that empower a smoother, more integrated marketing strategy.

With marketing automation, you can easily setup a sales funnel to convert cold leads into warm prospects and then into loyal customers. With segmentation and personalization opportunities, you ensure that each lead is presented with the media and content most relevant to its needs.

In short, marketing automation takes a lot of the pain out of selling your products and services manually. Done well, it can reduce staffing costs, entice lost leads into converting, and help align your sales and marketing teams.

5. Account-Based Marketing

Our final B2B inbound marketing trend for 2018 is account-based marketing. The shift to this style of marketing strategy has been more subtle than any of the other trends we’ve discussed thus far, so don’t sweat it if the phrase is still unfamiliar.

In account-based marketing (ABM), selling strategy revolves around treating each lead as a different market. I.e., each account in your marketing system, belonging to an individual prospect or customer, is treated like its own little market. Content and strategy are then developed for that single-company market.

In prior years, ABM wasn’t a very popular (or effective) marketing style, and for a good reason. The super-targeted nature of this kind of game plan meant higher costs and more hours invested in selling to each prospective customer.

However, with the introduction of such tools as marketing automation, ABM has become much more feasible. And because super-personalizing a sales funnel will generally always yield a better conversion rate, there’s no real reason not to pursue account-based marketing.

Wrapping Up

Let’s quickly recap each of the five trends we covered in this post:

  1. Mobile is still king.
  2. Interactive content engages users.
  3. Influencers fuel social media marketing.
  4. Marketing automation makes marketing strategy much smoother and more seamless while opening up great possibilities.
  5. Account-based marketing, when used in conjunction with marketing automation, is not only highly effective but also completely affordable.

Now that you know how to adapt your marketing strategy to achieve maximum potential in 2018, it’s time to start integrating these five trends into your game plan for the upcoming year.

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