I casually eavesdropped on a recent discussion in our open office space that brought up something that weighs on every marketer’s mind – how to make sure we are looking ahead to be innovative and not retreating to strategies and tactics of the past.
Spring has turned quickly into summer and when it comes to keeping things fresh, you want to be sure that you, too, are forward-looking. As with fashion statements that come and go, so are some marketing trends. I thought it would be fun to review a few B2B marketing trends from just a few years back, share how they’ve progressed and evolved over time and assess what you should do to ensure you’re rocking the trends of 2017.
Stay away from the following pitfalls – you don’t want 2007 calling and asking for their marketing plan back!
- Missing the mark on setting your KPIs. This may be Marketing 101, but often, the steps to get to where you want to take precedent over “where you want to be”. What are these steps going to accomplish if a clear goal has not yet been articulated? A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute revealed examples of goals such as brand awareness, lead generation, engagement, sales, lead nurturing and customer retention and loyalty. Key measures of success stem from increased website traffic, sales lead quality, higher conversion rates and sales. These examples lift your marketing activities to a greater level rather than focusing on more tactical aspects such as, “we need to refresh our website”, “we need to rebrand” and the like. Speaking of strategies – document them. According to the same CMI study, success also stems from documenting your strategy, of which nearly half of B2B companies do not do.
- Relying on sales to be the first step. In the past, B2B leads were left up to sales. But since it has been realized that nearly three-quarters of all B2B leads were not sales ready, marketing has taken on the role of nurturing those prospects. By helping create thoughtful and targeted content, marketing plays a lead role in the information gathering stage of the buying cycle. In the modern buyer’s decision-making journey, prospects are at least 70% of the way through their own research by the time they first engage with a salesperson. And according to Accenture, 94 % of B2B buyers will research products and services online before purchasing or reaching out to a sales member for additional information. When B2B sales and marketing are tightly aligned, the sales win rate rises by 38% and customer retention also improves (Source: Marketing Profs by way of Hubspot).
- Creating content for the sake of creating content. Through the years, the saying “content is king” has resonated more and more with organizations. In 2014, B2B marketers were cited as creating 70% more content. That statistic shows an increase in new content from previous years, and this information being distributed through more channels than ever before to reach a targeted audience with various forms of personalized content. Types of content includes thought leadership articles, blogs, e-newsletters and case studies among others.
- Not being socially acceptable. Just a few years ago, B2B companies began shifting from using Facebook to embracing LinkedIn. With features such as networks, sales enablement tools, sponsored content and niche targeting, many businesses are finding that LinkedIn can offer business solutions and hyper-targeting towards a company’s specific intended audiences. There is also a time and a place for other social channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, which each serve their own specific purpose and audience.
Overall, when it comes to having a well-defined and fresh approach to your marketing plans, look toward strengthening your current best practices. Re-evaluate neon-inspired trends of the “now” and see if they can be incorporated into your classic go-to pieces.
How will you manage integrating new trends into your best practices this year?
Author: Veronica Chaidez, Account Manager, Outlook Marketing Services
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