05 Dec The Trends Transforming B2B Marketing
Digitalisation is transforming B2B marketing. The time of catalogues and mailshots has come to an end. Now, the sector is using inbound marketing, automation, account-based marketing (ABM) and artificial intelligence to personalise messages for each target customer. For Salesforce, the importance of managing and segmenting customers and leads is key to personalising communications. Be that as it may, only 46% of B2B marketing specialists say they have unified their customer data.
As far as generating B2B trade is concerned, aligning CRM software with marketing platforms is set to become the top trend in the B2B marketing and sales sector. Simple modular SAS tools will use segmentation and communication with prospects to help generate sales opportunities with new and returning customers.
So, technology will open the way to very specific trends in B2B marketing, which will operate in more sophisticated settings based on focused marketing that is designed to achieve each company’s goals. Below are some of the trends that are going to take centre stage in the business-to-business sales sector.
B2B Inbound Marketing
There is nothing new about inbound marketing. But, until recently, highly segmented companies with very specific niches operating in B2B sales have considered B2B marketing unnecessary. The reality is different: if you don’t communicate, you don’t exist. HubSpot studies conclude that more than 53% of marketing managers think that inbound marketing generates a higher ROI than traditional marketing. The mentality change that this strategy requires involves managing communications through joint actions between marketing and sales. And, first and foremost, attracting clients by offering them value. To be good at inbound marketing, you have to start by defining the buyer persona and analysing the right time to contact the customer or prospect, and the best channels to use. You have to know the customer journey, identify the specific company goals (sales and general management) you want to achieve and produce a content strategy that considers the needs of your customers, leads and prospects at all times.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
While inbound marketing is about personalisation based on a buyer persona, ABM goes to much further extremes. This B2B strategy focusses marketing actions on a certain group of target accounts within a sector. It uses personalised campaigns to attract each of the accounts the company wants to win. Investment in ABM depends on the type of company you want to get access to and it is normally aimed at high-value accounts. The big difference is that you need intricate knowledge of the account and industry to be able to design a suitable ABM strategy and create marketing messages that are relevant to the account. According to ITSMA, 87% of B2B salespeople agree that ABM offers a higher ROI than any other marketing strategy.
Affiliation marketing is about getting results. In this advertising model, the company pays commission to external publishers in exchange for them generating traffic or potential customers for its products and services. The external publishers are affiliates and the commission is what incentivises them to find ways to promote the company. To date, this has been B2C territory. But, little by little, B2B companies are analysing the potential of this type of marketing, not only for sales, but also for generating leads.
One of the largest global platforms is Commission Junction, which connects advertisers and affiliates to get the most out of their relationship. B2B companies that have successfully developed affiliation programs include Hootsuite, Moo.com and PC Magazine.
Growth Driven Design
Building a website is no easy task. Depending on the complexity of the project, development can take up to a year. Until very recently (and even at the moment), companies were generating static websites with a limited duration. After a few years, these websites were completely redone, with the consequent additional cost. These days, a major trend in website development is Growth Driven Design, an adaptive model that makes it possible to redesign your website whenever you want, to suit your marketing goals and based on the data you have gathered about your users. You have to adapt your website, not only to your goals, but also to the needs of your customers and what interests your visitors while they are on your site.
The customer experience, known as CX, is the sum of all interactions that B2B customers have with a company. This goes beyond just the sale to include all of the pre- and post-sale actions that a company gets involved in. This is currently among the strategic priorities of numerous B2B companies and it involves creating a multi-channel, personalised experience that must be supported by employees at all times.
One of the major challenges to improve the CX in B2B is the need to generate a customer database that is sufficiently segmented to be able to personalise the experience of each customer based on their exact position in the sales funnel. What is more, technology and the personal experience in the B2C world have generated very high expectations for the B2B purchasing process. Platforms like Amazon and Expedia are responsible for a certain buyer culture.
In short, some trends will change over time, while others are here to stay and grow. But one thing is for sure and that is the usefulness of knowing what will likely drive the sector over the coming year. That way, you will be able to create the necessary strategies and grow as a result. At Intracon, we help you find the strategy that best suits your business goals.