Remember Van Damme’s ‘Epic Split’ that went viral back in 2013? The live stunt was shared on YouTube and has seen innumerable millions of views ever since, and continues to be a top favourite in the digital world. Now think about the brand — Volvo Trucks. A hardcore B2B company that succeeded in its digital marketing efforts and how! Every once in a while, we see such epic campaigns take centre-stage and disrupt set notions about B2B marketing, but for that to happen more often, marketers need to have their pulse on the changes in the world of digital marketing.
Almost three years on since that ‘Epic Split’ gained epic proportions, we see what trends B2B marketers need to watch out for:
- Technology sets the ball rolling
New technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality are one of the top trends of 2016. Although it may take some time, say by 2017, to take the world of B2B marketing by storm, this year, there will be a lot of move towards content that veers towards VR. B2B marketing experts should watch carefully — imagine VR being used to showcase heavy-duty equipment. General Electric has already been trying VR videos for a while now.
- Digital marketing, did you say?
According to a Gartner CMO Spend Survey (2015–16), digital marketing will turn an obsolete term. Marketers are increasingly perceiving marketing as a comprehensive term — harmonious blend of offline and online.
- Hold on to email marketing
You thought email campaigns were thinks of the past? It so happens that B2B companies can still effectively use email marketing well into 2016, and beyond. A whopping 2.5 billion, if not more, people use email across the globe, and B2B marketers can make use of chance to get a direct reach into an individual’s inbox. The stress is on quality content, which is also optimized for mobile. According to a survey (State of Marketing 2015), over 70 per cent of adults who are online send/receive a minimum of one mail a week via their smartphone.
- …which brings us to mobile!
As a B2B marketer, 2016 will be the year that you will think mobile. According to eMarketer, half of all the mobile phone users in the world will own a smartphone, come 2018. Make your website response on mobile, as also your newsletters.
- Get those apps going
More and more B2B brands will look to use apps to market their products. These apps can either be web or mobile, but the focus is going to be on creating a platform for businesses to seek quotes or get contact details.
- It’s all about customer/user experience
Irrespective of devices used or channels, B2B marketing needs to focus on giving the best experience for the user. This experience could be via effective use of calls to action, sprucing up the websites, optimisation for mobile etc. The entire customer cycle should be made as user-friendly and engaging as possible, and that is one of the major trends of 2016.The traditional sales funnel may have to be ditched and a dynamic nonstop model needs to be followed. A multi-channel experience is absolutely crucial.
- Referrals and their influence
B2B marketers will focus on engaging customers and building on their loyalty to drive revenues. Brands will use advocate marketing software to build ties with clients. A report by Customer Advocacy says that B2B purchasers carry out their own online research and seek peer recommendations. At last 84 per cent of such B2B customers use word-of-mouth as their principal influence when it comes to buying.
- Content is king, no doubt!
Content is still supreme, and is the one thread that connects users and brands. Focus on long-tail search results will be the trend in 2016 even as SEM and SEO continue to hog the budget of a B2B marketer. Content is increasingly moving towards meeting the needs of a specific target audience. According to a study by Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers will focus heavily on creating content that is engaging. This percentage stands at 72 per cent of all B2B marketers surveyed. Come 2017, budgets for content marketing will grow nearly 60 per cent, and beat social/search budgets according to a Digiday-PulsePoint research.
- Disruption of online advertising & Bot fraud
Two challenges that B2B marketers would face in 2016 are ad blocking and Bot fraud. There are 200 million users world over blocking ads, and about 180 million of them are doing so on the desktop, according to a study by Page Fair and Adobe. Similarly, Bot fraud is also causing headaches top advertisers. According to a report released by the Association of National Advertisers, bot fraud is going to cost advertisers $7.2 billion globally this year. Marketers will have to gear with this challenge, and pave the road for some innovative marketing to beat these odds.
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