I always look forward to the holidays. Not only because it is a time of fun and cheer, but also because I know that there will be goodies flooding my door very soon. My favourite food delivery app always sends me an extra box of cookies for X’Mas. And there are offers and sales galore at almost all my favourite shops. This has been a raging trend in the last few years – giving discounts. But in the coming years, marketing is going to evolve immensely. In this blog, you will go through the key predictions of the B2B marketing trends for 2018.
One thing that doesn’t change is that brands want to delight their customers during festive season and customers want it as much, if not more. New Year’s eve is a holiday that is celebrated across all industries. Not only does it set the tone for the next 12 months, but it also offers many opportunities to connect with your clientele. The last month of the year is when you decide what marketing trends work for you, and which ones you should never touch again. In this blog, you will look at the marketing trends of 2017 that were a hit. And we will also go through the predicted B2B marketing trends for 2018.
3 Marketing Trends that Worked in 2017
In 2017, there were some top trends that everyone was keen on implementing. Let’s take a look at them:
1. LinkedIn Marketing Saw a Boost
We saw businesses take to LinkedIn like never before. The site which was till now a hiring and networking platform established itself as a premier social media site for professionals and for entrepreneurs, who wanted to build a brand around themselves. Whether it was showcasing company culture or writing thought leadership pieces, LinkedIn was the place to be. It has proved to be difficult for small start-ups to get on LinkedIn but a lot of brands are still focusing on LinkedIn Marketing and succeeding.
2. Content Marketing Saw New Trends
Content marketing saw itself on the top spot yet again, with corporate videos breaking new ground this year. From bland and lifeless videos to explainer videos that went viral, corporate videos truly became an effective marketing tool in 2017. For example, Twitter’s tongue-in-cheek video seamlessly blended humor with corporate advertising to make an entertaining point:
3. Social Media Influencers Showed Their Mettle
Social media influencers were the star kids of 2017. From announcing giveaways on behalf of established business to promoting upcoming brands, they did it all. Businesses also used these influencers and their online clout for reputation management and brand building. With social media, customer evangelism and word-of-mouth advertising also found a new face. Forbes even did a video on social media influencers and what it means for the business community:
B2B Marketing Trends for 2018: Key Predictions
Looking at the way B2B marketing trends have been changing over the years, we have collated together some of the top B2B Marketing Trends for 2018. We believe these will make a great impact on the way the B2B businesses communicate to their clients in the year to come.
Prediction 1: Redefine Marketing communication
The marketing communication as we know is bound to change in 2018. Brands no longer need to connect with all different kinds of target audience. With the rise of social media influencers, every target audience group has unofficially elected a representative for their group – the influencer. This means that brands need to stop trying to communicate to all the users and just connect to the top influencers in their target group. So if you are looking to connect with cricket fans, create your marketing communication that will connect with the influencers in cricket. This will change the way brands communicate in 2018.
Companies like Slack, MailChimp, DropBox and others have proved that one of the biggest B2B marketing trends for 2018 will be the way companies talk to their clients. Personalization and connection are the buzz words – on emails, native ads, and other forms of B2B communication.
A great example of this trend is MailChimp’s “Did You Mean MailChimp?” campaign which subverted the advertising trends in the industry with a quirky and fun campaign that spoke to the top influencers. The campaign utilized memes and short films wonderfully well to drive its point across.
Prediction 2: Businesses will work on ways to better enable sales with the help of marketing content
There is a clear demarcation in the B2B world between sales and marketing teams. However, companies have now realized that in the digital world, an amalgamation of the two can result in better conversions than before. The sales teams, which interact directly with customers, have their finger on the customer’s pain points. They can leverage this knowledge to help create better marketing content for their business. In return, the same content can be used in emails, social media channels, and other platforms to boost sales.
The key here is to create content in relation to the businesses’ sales funnel, which clearly serve customers’ pain points. Kissmetrics does a great job at this. The company’s blog is full of infographics that take market analysis and key data points and present them in a highly useful manner. The same content can then be circulated across channels to boost Kissmetrics’ standing as a leading behavioural analytics tool.
Prediction 3: Businesses will aim to create a 360-degree customer experience
This is almost a continuation of the previous thought. As businesses realize that improved sales cannot happen in isolation, they will strive to create a wholesome experience for their customers. This includes UI/UX, content, social media and marketing efforts – every single touch point your customer has with your business need to be in sync.
To create a panoramic experience like this, a business must think of all its different departments as pieces of the same puzzle. Whether it is content writing or social media, all teams have to focus on a single goal. For instance; the sales team in a business cannot make offers and promises that the product team may not be able to achieve just in order to boost numbers. In today’s age; where a single tweet can destroy a company’s reputation, creating this wholesome experience for the customer must be a top priority.
Prediction 4: Businesses will use more tech tools to engage users
The B2B business community has shied away from using too much tech in its strategy. Maybe because most B2B sales and deals are closed after one-on-one conversations. However, the recent trend shows that AI can be very beneficial for businesses. Chat bots are a prime example of this. So is the use of AI for data analysis, and market interpretation.
Two use cases where AI can be of much help to businesses is in generating leads and analyzing sales calls. The startup Netra has designed a software that uses visual-recognition along with machine learning to identify customers’ interests and passions through their social media pictures. Such data mining can help brands build a strong understanding of customers likes and dislikes and tweak their strategy accordingly.
AI can not only create a solid pipeline for your sales team to work with, but also help you pinpoint the topics that customers talk about so you can create solutions for them, in a proactive manner.
Prediction 5: Referral programs will become an even bigger tool for marketing
All said and done, the truth of the matter is that people buy from people they know. From AirBnB to Uber, million-dollar companies across the globe use referral programs as a way of lead generation. Only because it works! This is why it has made it to the list of B2B Marketing Trends for 2018.
And while no company grows by just using a single marketing tactic, referral programs can be a good asset because they work on many different levels:
- Referral programs amplify your company’s natural word-of-mouth advertising
- You can select rewards based on your target audience and engage them better
- Double-sided referrals are a socially acceptable tool for promotion
The One Plus referral program that recently took the country by storm is a prime example of this. Uber, too, used the power of referral programs to gain ground when it launched in India. The company’s referral programs work for both customers as well as partners and is a win-win for both!
Prediction 6: Businesses will not only sell but also help customers
The recently launched fitness company Curefit has used this tactic to gain followers. The company’s fitness outlets – Cult Fitness – uses radio to disseminate health and fitness tips. It’s a good marketing strategy because it establishes the company as a market leader in this space. These are health tips that everyone can use, even if they are not a customer. By reaching out to its target audience in a friendly manner, without pushing for sales, Cult and Curefit have built brand recall and positioned themselves as fitness experts who care about the masses.
The Guardian has an informative article on how brand activism is the new ‘cool’. Philips India recently practised the same thing with their ‘Him Initiative’ for fighting breast cancer. See the video below to understand how powerful activism can be:
We believe 2018 will be the year where B2B communication will see an overhaul. Remember to personalize your communication, and create a wholesome experience for your customers. You can also use chat bots and other AI tools for creating better marketing plans and to understand your customers better.
As the new year draws near, it is time to build a new marketing strategy. We hope that the B2B Marketing Trends for 2018 we have listed above will help you in furthering your business even more. If you would like help with creating a marketing strategy for 2018, drop a comment below! Our experienced freelancers can help you utilize the B2B Marketing Trends for 2018 to the fullest. Post a task right away on our website and we will take it from there!