Technology continues to shape our world, and marketing must evolve with it. B2B marketing, in particular, focuses on connecting people in a business environment where they’re:
- Plugged into technology
- Making decisions that are driven more by logic than emotion
- Spending large sums of money to invest in your product/service
- Expecting to see results
When you’re reaching out to companies that are driven to succeed, and to succeed quickly, you need to be on the leading edge of the marketing game – and that means keeping on top of the key trends determining the future of B2B marketing. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Customer focus is king
We all know the old saying “The customer is always right” isn’t always accurate. Perhaps a better way to update the adage for today is to say “The customer’s feelings are always valid.”
Companies need to focus their resources on creating seamless partnerships and reducing friction for clients using their services. Customer experience (CX) has become a key area of focus, as businesses realize good customer experiences are the best advertising.
Being satisfied with a product is no longer enough. Customers may be willing to give you a high NPS score, but that doesn’t necessarily ensure their loyalty. When you look for ways to make your customers’ experience better, you’re essentially giving them the opportunity to write your marketing for you.
Their testimonials, reviews, and referrals about an improved user/customer experience will sell your product better than even your most stellar marketing team efforts ever could.
- 92% of customers read reviews online when making a purchase decision
- Peer recommendations affect more than 90% of buyer decisions, and,
- Referred prospects are four times more likely to make a purchase
2. Quality means more than quantity
The marketing outreach of the future isn’t a scattershot approach—it’s a surgical technique. The future of B2B marketing lies in intelligently targeting prospects and finding the clients that fit your product, rather than forcing your product to fit your clients.
Companies often try to highlight their quality of service as a key selling point; however, trying to grow quickly or scale can corrode that service and have an impact on the customer’s view of the brand.
By using an account-based marketing focus, you do the research upfront to understand who the client is and whether they fit with your company. You can then sell to their pain points, which makes it easier to show the value you’re generating.
Taking this approach also allows you to focus on giving top-notch service to your clients and retaining them because you’re not wasting your efforts on selling and then reselling.
Getting started with account-based selling means knowing the client really well; however, that can also pay off once you’ve secured the relationship. If you know the client, their needs, and their pain points, you also have the elements you need to provide an exceptional ongoing relationship that anticipates their issues and pushes them toward achieving their goals.
3. Learning to incorporate AI
AI has been the next big thing in marketing for years, but it’s not just about robotic communications and connections. Instead, opportunities to use AI in the marketing realm include:
Incorporating chatbots as the first line of defense (or actually, offense)
When you have a chat option on your website, you can “man/woman” it with a chatbot that asks probing questions.
Those questions allow you to collect data to score and segment your prospects, so you can then reach out to them more knowledgeably. It’s an added bonus that consumers typically enjoy using chat as a solution and that you can follow up with a more informed and prepared human contact.
Automated communications with prospects
Use intelligent communications strategies to kick off sales campaigns following an interaction, whether that’s in a physical location, with an email or website click, via social, or something completely different.
Some followers of this trend envision a progression that could include automated interactions after an automated campaign kicks off following a billboard sighting or commercial viewing.
AI personalization can go past simple first-name personalization and gather data that introduce their company. Gathering more robust data sets the stage for increased personalization. For example, Maersk, an international shipping company, used its automated data gathering to pull information and share relevant knowledge and a specific value proposition that would resonate with prospects seeking their services.
While predictive has been used successfully in other industries (like healthcare) to build models and improve efficiency, there’s still room for continued improvement and use in the sales/marketing sector.
Putting this technology to work successfully would mean improved prospecting and relationship-building through cohort modeling. This approach can also support account-based marketing efforts as marketing teams seek to attract the clients that were seemingly made for their products. A/B testing is often difficult for B2B websites due to volume constraints, but predictive targeting via artificial intelligence can help you target the right message to the right persona.
4. Deepening email marketing connectivity
At the same time, email marketing will also evolve to be more driven by the customer’s wants and needs.
Increasingly, more marketing relationships will be launched by prospect-driven actions.
Cold outreach will still be an important part of marketing. However, in many cases, prospects are out there looking for you before you even know they’re in the process.
Make your first introduction to them a warmer one by using analytic data regarding their interests to your advantage and gaining an understanding of their needs and interests based on what they choose to download or interact with. A greater focus on content and structured automated cold email campaigns will help you stand out from the other providers they’re researching.
Customers are already becoming more wary of the ways they share their contact information and allow emails to reach them. To continue capitalizing on the strong ROI of email, make sure every single email provides value.
Each email message and campaign should be calibrated to knock it out of the park. Rather than wasting a precious touchpoint and potentially severing your email connection, ensure you’re finding the prospects who are a right fit using online research and an email verification option.
Then, craft messages that are focused on providing value and building relationships. Strive for continuous improvement in quality. Using real-time analysis of your email campaigns is one way to ensure you’re telling the story you want to tell and that your recipients want to hear.
In the past, marketers could shout their products’ praises from the rooftops and expect to get a shot at pitching. B2B marketing is now a two-way street, as B2B consumers have plenty of resources at their disposal.
With the ongoing focus on both tech-driven solutions and customer experience, marketers should focus their efforts on creating high-touch, high-quality relationships and opportunities for value in each interaction.
What other B2B marketing trends do you see emerging? Feel free to share the ones you’re most excited about – use the comments section below.