As we get ready to close the books on 2018, let’s take a moment and think about the year to come. What B2B marketing evolutions and trends will have an impact in 2019?
Here are some developments that will shape B2B marketing for the coming year, and beyond.
Marketing’s role continues to expand
Marketing has always had the expertise in communications, messaging, branding, and more. The difference now is that the rest of the organization realizes that it needs this expertise too. At many companies, marketing is now leading the way and providing support for other business areas, including HR, IT, employee and corporate communications, and even customer experience initiatives.
Marketing’s ability to understand audiences and their information needs, along with how to shape and communicate key messages, is proving invaluable as companies look for ways to improve and be more competitive, inside and out. In addition to standard marketing activities, marketing is increasingly being asked to help with recruitment strategies and employer branding programs, internal communications plans and the overall employee experience.
As different areas get rolled up into marketing (PR, communications, etc.), the benefits of this strengthened position in the organization are clear, including a seat at the table for the heads of marketing, as part of the senior executive team, and a more influential voice in setting corporate strategy.
B2C-style word-of-mouth is gaining importance for B2B
Word-of-mouth has always been important in B2B marketing. Customer testimonials and referral marketing are mainstays in the B2B marketer’s toolkit, and with good reason: hearing directly from satisfied customers is one of the most powerful marketing messages there is. But long-form testimonials aren’t the only approach. Many B2B organizations are starting to add more B2C-style options, and finding new ways to encourage customers to comment, interact and engage.
It can be as simple as asking for a comment or recommendation after a customer makes a purchase, or suggesting ways to interact on all your webpages and email signatures. When you receive comments, highlight them on your website so they’re easy for visitors to see. Make it clear that this interaction is important to your company. Or consider putting a product review option right on your website.
Getting your users or customers to create and post their own content related to your product or service (user-generated content, or UGC) is also a good way to highlight your products. You can encourage this on your social media channels by running contests, or requests for tips and tricks relating to your product, or getting users to share some results of your product use. Graco, a manufacturer of paint sprayers and other tools for professional painters, does this through the Graco Contractors Club, a group on Facebook. This very active group posts user-generated pictures and product reviews, product use videos and more, sparked by Graco-run contests and requests for feedback.
To encourage users to create content featuring your products, try these steps: (1) create a unique hashtag for user-generated content relating to each product or solution; (2) offer incentives (prizes, contests, etc.), (3) have a place to share it (on your website, social page, etc.), and (4) show that you appreciate it, with comments, likes and shares.
Video continues to dominate
Video is big, and getting bigger for B2B. According to Google, 70% of B2B buyers are watching online video as part of their research process. They’re watching videos on product features, as well as professional reviews and how-to videos. They’re also watching customer testimonials, thought leadership talks, and even taking a look at the day-to-day employee experience.
What’s going to have a big impact in 2019: personalized video. These are videos personalized with the recipient’s name and other details, such as their company name, location or industry, embedded in text in multiple spots in the video. For example, someone in the video is shown reading a newspaper, which shows the recipient’s name or company name in a headline; or a registrant list is shown, with the recipient’s name included; or an office door in the video is labeled with the person’s name, along with a personalized coffee mug. This is an engaging, fun way to draw the targeted viewer in, and it can also include personalized calls-to-action.
These are just a few of the trends that are going to have an impact on B2B marketing. Next we’ll take a look at what’s coming for digital and content marketing, in our upcoming blog posts on B2B digital marketing trends for 2019, and B2B content marketing trends for 2019.
For B2B marketers, it can feel like an ever-changing world. Sometimes it can be beneficial to connect with the experts, to gain new ideas and fine-tune your approach. At Living Stone, we’re experts in B2B marketing, with experience in all aspects of digital marketing and marketing technology.
We’d be glad to set up a no-obligation discussion, to talk about your challenges and needs and the way we could support you.