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Top B2B Marketing Trends Set to Drive Growth in 2018 by@j_r_wi11iams

Top B2B Marketing Trends Set to Drive Growth in 2018

Jesse Williams Hacker Noon profile picture

Jesse Williams

Director of Marketing and Demand Gen

What the Best-of-the-Best are focusing on this year.

I originally wrote a much shorter version of this post on Quora — based on feedback, I’ve decided to create a longer, more in-depth version here on Medium where it can be easily found.

There are a lot of different styles of marketing, depending on your target audience. I want to preface that this post focuses on B2B Enterprise Marketing strategies that may not translate over for B2C or lifestyle companies.

LinkedIn Will Replace Facebook Ad Budgets

Marketers are becoming more and more aware of customer intent and the impact that context plays in conversion rates. LinkedIn is a work platform, which means that the users there are focused on work-related items. Compare this to Facebook, where it’s a family and social platform where people visit to see pictures of their friends, kids, pets, vacations, and food.

Customers don’t mind ads when you have their permission, but out of context or overly-intrusive ads can damage brand reputations, feel intrusive, and ultimately damage customer relationships.

Account Based Targeting

Marketers are already opting for quality over quantity. I believe that this year we will see marketers adopt a majority account-based marketing strategy. These strategies increase cost-per-acquisition but improve close rates and lower time to close.

On top of closing more deals, marketing organizations that adopt a hyper-targeted approach are able to eliminate a lot of time, spend, and energy waste. Resulting in lean, agile teams that generate sustainable flows of high-quality leads.

The Death of the Growth Hacker

Marketing organizations have already begun to realize that ‘growth hackers’ are 90% hype, 0% execution, and 10% BS. The role of ‘growth hacker’ will be eliminated due to little ROI and organizational value.

I believe that we will see two distinct roles begin to form in the marketing world, advertisers and demand gen. Advertisers will focus on creative, social, brand, and content. Demand gen will focus on activities that put leads in the funnel. This includes events, paid ads, podcasts, influencer marketing, lead nurturing, list purchases, email marketing, and much more.

I saw a great post about this by Sales Hacker’s VP of Marketing, Gaetano Nino DiNardi on LinkedIn:

Lines Are Blurred Between Sales And Marketing

The classic issue of sales/marketing alignment is no longer prevalent in organizations thanks to the unifying role that CROs (Chief Revenue Officers) play. The more aligned sales and marketing become, the less important it becomes to delineate the two, and the more it becomes a simple differentiation of day-to-day activities and skills.

As demand gen roles increase (mentioned above), marketing will begin to own the early stages of the sales process including setting appointments and qualifying inbound leads.

The Rise of Micro-Moments

Powerful brands are built through hundreds if not thousands of micro-interactions with their customers. Micro-moments, on the other hand, are slightly different. A micro-moment focuses on capturing a potential customer’s undivided attention and cutting through the clutter for 2–7 seconds.

An example is how Intel captured the attention of riders on the DC METRO with their AI ads that pulled individuals in while they waited for their train.

Video Content Continues to Dominate

In 2017 video became the most dominant form of native content on almost every social platform. Early adopters discovered it — now it’s time for everyone else to follow.

This year we are going to see companies investing time into creating huge quantities of video content. Social influencers like Gary V. have proven that video content doesn’t need to be high-quality, but there has to be the quantity and it has to be presented in a fresh way.

Keep an eye out for iPhone quality video content, distributed on a daily basis, by unique individuals who carry the brand well.

Podcasts Dominate Influencer Marketing

We’re starting to scratch the surface of intentional influencer marketing. 2017 was marked with some epic fails, big lawsuits, and a ton of money wasted. This year brands are going to get smart about it.

The simple truth is that customers don’t care what the Kardashians use. They have a big name, millions of followers, and ZERO TRUST. The Kardashians are completely unreal and consumers are catching on.

Podcasts, on the other hand, create a medium where listeners can create a trust with a host over a long period of time. Podcasts also have a unique barrier to entry, when it comes to becoming an influencer. Hosts are required to have a deep knowledge of a specific topic, which makes product recommendations much more valuable.

Deep Personalization in B2B Marketing

Personalization has been around for a long time with personalization tokens in email marketing platforms, but this year, I think we are going to see it go to the next level.

Most marketing automation platforms are beginning to allow companies to build multiple levels of customization into the same communication blast. Forget the first name, company, and basic actions … we’re talking about piecing together entire email bodies based on complex segmentation. It won’t be uncommon for there to be 50–100 uniquely different emails sent out to communicate one single message.

Here’s a great post on that:

On top of the ability to add unlimited levels of personalization based on enhanced data, tools like ExecVision, are allowing organizations to turn conversations into useable data. For marketers, this means that conversations your SDRs or LDRs have with prospects can be turned into data and used to enhance personalization, to the point where it’s almost impossible to tell that they are apart of a mass email outreach.

Chatbots v2.0

Let’s be real, chatbots are pretty cool, until they’re not. When you need them, they help you find exactly what you are looking for, but the rest of the time it turns the internet into a perpetual round of smash-a-mole.

I pray that this is the year companies add some basic logic to determine when and if a chatbot should engage a visitor. I don’t expect this until late in the year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing some content popping up about why chatbots are damaging UX.

Immersive Experiences with AR & VR

Since the invention of the internet, there has been one major flaw — screens. Screen resolution has become really good and websites are beginning to build themselves to meet the requirements of visitor’s devices. But, when all is said and done, humans don’t experience the world through one or two senses.

AR and VR bridge the gap that is created by the limitations of a screen based internet. I had my first interaction with AR a few years ago at a Microsoft conference in San Francisco when they released their Hololens. They were able to create an immersive experience right at their booth — now imagine being able to walk through a vacation rental in your living room. The sky is the limit for these technologies and we’ve only scratched the surface of its capabilities.

Employee Advocacy

Last year we saw the power of positive and negative employee advocacy — think Uber …

Whether employers acknowledge it or not, employees have a voice and they’re not afraid to use it. Employee advocacy is the best way to build trust with potential customers because it gives them an inside view of the company and builds a powerful connection. At the end of the day, companies are comprised of people just like you and me, they have families, hobbies, dreams, and feelings, customers know this and want to support companies that value their employees.

Smart marketers will learn how to leverage positive employee advocacy to build their brand reputation and create empathy with potential customers.

Super SaaS

Right now, the number of platforms that marketers hack together to build a proper stack is simply overwhelming. Not to mention, once you hack together a stack, the tools don’t always communicate as advertised and leave gaps in your data.

To solve some of the issues of tool fatigue, clean up data, and ultimately create an easier sell, keep an eye out for SaaS platforms to start co-marketing solution bundles that are ‘turn-key’.

About the Author: Jesse Williams is a young entrepreneur, husband, father, technologist, and SaaS marketing expert. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn and learn more about him and his projects here.