THE CRYSTAL BALL: 2018 B2B MARKETING TRENDS

As 2017 winds to a close, we’re looking into the marketing crystal ball to see what’s in store for 2018. The next year is going to bring some big things that may shake up marketing technology. Content marketing has well established itself among B2B marketers. According to Forbes, 89 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing to drive their brand forward. But the content marketing landscape is changing. Content increasingly relies on video and less on branded content.

WHERE THE GROWTH IS

According to the Martech Landscape survey supergraphic, the technical marketing landscape has grown significantly, about 40 percent over the year. There are now 5,381 technical solutions to marketing pain-points, offered by 4,891 companies. A few solutions vanished (4.7 percent of them), but the number of solutions added far exceeded the number removed. The changes reflect the explosion in the growth of content marketing itself. Large companies or those receiving some investor funding are the ones offering these new marketing tools. There are a few giants and vast stretch of niche product developers.

More and more, SaaS platforms are where one can find Marketing technology. That makes it easier for marketers to plug in a variety of more specialized solutions without having to re-license. Most of the new software for the B2B sector is related to Customer Relations Management (CRM), marketing automation (MAP), and Content Management Systems (CMS)– all of which are crucial for content marketing. As the software offerings migrate to platformization, marketers are more able to build best-of-breed marketing systems and organize integrated software suites.

In a way, B2B content marketing appears to be going in the same direction that accounting went: toward large-scale broadly defined software suites.

VIDEO WILL CONTINUE TO BE BIG

A Hubspot survey found that nearly half (48 percent) of marketers are planning to add YouTube to their marketing plan and 46 percent to add FaceBook video. Educational video content should be the starting point rather than inspirational or entertainment video content. This content should create value for viewers.

  • One of the tremendous technological changes has been that smartphone video is getting good enough that anyone can shoot full-length content with a smartphone.
  • You can mount the smartphone on a smartphone tripod so it looks like a studio camera.
  • You can supply good lighting.
  • You can edit the results with state of the art video editing tools like Magisto which uses AI technology to help edit and make market available videos in a matter of minutes.
  • Live streaming of video events is emerging as an alternative to canned webinars.

MEDIA DIVERSIFICATION

The B2B marketing scene has a broad armamentarium.

  • Short-form video, long-form video and live video on a specially scheduled basis are all available tools for delivering content.
  • Podcasts are becoming popular. Content that interacts with viewers asking for critiques or opinions can engage potential customers. Infographics are seeing a resurgence, usually as the centerpiece of a longer white paper.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP FOCUS

A recent study by Edelman and LinkedIn underlined the importance of taking thought leadership in B2B content marketing. Thought leadership in content marketing and inbound marketing isn’t so much a coming trend as it is an extension and strengthening of long-standing practices.

  • B2B content marketing should be sharply focused on education and information sharing rather than self-promotion or entertaining novelty. The mission is to demonstrate the thinking and expertise of the company.
  • In 2018, B2B content marketing will return to its roots: creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a defined audience.
  • Large organizations like Apple and PepsiCo are becoming creation think tanks, opening up brand new content creation studios in New York City to create useful content to be run on their streaming platforms.
  • Software like Evernote Skitch makes it easy to mark up content to create professional-looking ebooks and articles.
  • SnappaCanva, and PicMonkey are competing for software packages for save templates and create images quickly. These apps are designed for teams as well.
  • Promo by Slidely is an online video creation tool that makes marketing video creation easy.

B2B MARKETING ROLE EXPANSION

B2B marketers are becoming more useful than ever and are accepting challenges way beyond what marketers usually do. Marketers are taking assignments teaming not only with sales but with human resources departments.

  • The race for talent has become a form of marketing and B2B marketing teams are working to define their company’s brand for purposes of bringing in the best talent.
  • HR teams are employing marketing teams to develop employee retention programs like better internal communication and company intranet systems.
  • The trend is for business development teams and traditional sales teams to narrow their focus and to utilize marketing teams to fill in the gap in driving account-based campaigns.
  • The trend is for business development teams and traditional sales teams to narrow their focus and to utilize marketing teams to fill in the gap in driving account-based campaigns.
  • Marketing teams with B2B focus are developing customer experience (CX) studies and programs.
  • A range of software applications is beginning to appear to aid in the organization and implementation of CX programs. Worthix uses AI algorithms to create CX surveys and analyzes results. Pega is an application that anticipates the needs of customers and helps solve problems proactively.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS

B2B content marketing is maturing with the creation of large-scale marketing suites offered in platforms, much like extensive accounting and business management suites. The focus of content marketing is going to be laser-focused on thought leadership and content, rather than entertainment and self-promotion. Use of video is emerging as a central medium for content marketing. The ways of presenting content are diversifying. Meanwhile, the role of the B2B marketer, itself, is expanding in the business environment.

Wanna talk B2B marketing trends, or see how we can make them work for you? Drop us a line.

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