If there is one overriding theme in the trends we are seeing in B2B online marketing right now, it’s sophistication. Online media has evolved from the new and experimental phase into a secure position in nearly every B2B company’s marketing.
While there is a constant flow of new social media platforms, apps, and marketing software, the underlying technology used in B2B online marketing has stabilized.
The changes we see now are new applications of the existing technology to improve marketing efficiency and effectiveness.
Here are five major trends and their implications for B2B companies.
1. Omnichannel Marketing
In multichannel marketing, the focus is on the media – how each channel can be tweaked to produce the maximum result. It’s data-driven, with results measured within each channel.
Omnichannel marketing effectively flips the process on its side, focusing on the buyer instead of a particular media channel.
The buyer is led through the buying process across multiple media platforms, always receiving a consistent, relevant message.
It’s essentially giving them a positive customer experience before they become a customer. Done properly, it should feel seamless and natural to the buyer and allow them to feel in control of their buying decision.
2. Adaptive Content
Omnichannel marketing also sets the stage for a better buying experience through adaptive content.
Adaptive content is content that adjusts what is displayed, based on actions by the reader. It’s probably best explained by looking at an example.
Ade is looking for a hotel to host a large conference. Like other event planners, he will need information on meeting room size, audio and video set-up, and sleeping room availability.
However, since one of the speakers is the Vice-President of Nigeria, he is most concerned about the hotel’s ability to work with the Secret Service and provide a secure entry and exit.
Ade searches online for hotels in the area with experience hosting top government officials.
He narrows his search down to two hotels and downloads their conference information packet.
The first hotel redirects her to a page with testimonials from other event planners raving about the banquet facilities and the food served at their event.
All good information, but not specific to Ade’s most pressing needs.
The second hotel, however, “seeing” that he spent the majority of her time on the page about hotel security, redirects her to a page with helpful information about hosting a senior government official and the direct line to their head of hotel security. Ade’s job just became much easier, thanks to the hotel’s use of adaptive content.
Adaptive content not only personalizes the buyer’s experience, it shifts the conversation from sales to relationship building.
3. Video and Podcasting
One of the reasons video is a valuable tool for B2B marketers is the ability to show how a complex product is used.
Adding the visual imagery not only allows more clarity in the communication, it stimulates the buyer’s brain in ways that text articles can’t.
Video can be integrated into websites, presentations, case studies, and white papers. It can also be used as part of the on boarding process, showing a new buyer how to implement their purchase and answering common questions about the product.
Surprisingly, good video can be shot with a smartphone or tablet, making video a viable option for any size company.
The popularity of podcasting reflects the trend toward on-demand information and entertainment. Many business executives listen to podcasts during their commute, while exercising, or to pass the time during yet another flight delay.
Setting up and running a podcast does take significant effort, but the payoff can be well worth it.
4. Influencer Marketing
Social media has given rise to a new group of influentials — people with a large following who are able to influence the purchasing decisions of their fans.
In many cases, the reach of one individual exceeds that of the mainstream media, and he media is no longer only controlled by a handful of publishers.
This isn’t just a consumer phenomenon; there are highly influential people in the B2B market as well. Of course, there always have been experts and thought leaders in every industry, but the reach of online media has amplified their value.
B2B companies are starting to reach out to the influencers in their market to leverage their reach and relationships with key prospects.
5. Freelance Experts
If your head is spinning from trying to keep up with multiple media channels, new marketing tactics, and the constantly changing social media platforms, you’re not alone.
Just as influencers allow companies to expand their reach beyond their own efforts, using freelance copywriters and other digital marketing experts allows a company to focus on their core messaging and outsource the most time-consuming marketing tasks.
While you could certainly hire the staff to have comprehensive expertise in-house, it’s prohibitively expensive to cover the vast array of channels now required for B2B online marketing. Having access to a variety of freelance professionals with deep expertise would allow you to maximize your marketing effectiveness without breaking the bank.
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