We may only be a few weeks into 2016, but as an agile B2B company you know it’s important to keep up with your customers’ communication trends. Consider the fact that millennials are starting to make their mark in the business world as many are on the cusp of entering leadership roles. That brings with it their preference for digital communications. With that in mind, here’s what I see as 6 digital marketing trends affecting B2B companies in 2016.
1. Content Marketing
Developing consistent, quality content about matters important to your customers remains a vital way of creating and strengthening brand awareness and customer relationships. Increasing traffic to your website by providing relevant information to your target audience can position your company as a market expert and thought leader, as well as showcase your solutions to their problems. A staggering 94% of B2B companies already use content marketing. So to be effective you need to find your niche and excel at it.
With an effective content marketing strategy, inbound traffic and customer engagement increases significantly. Dollar for dollar, content marketing can generate up to 54% more leads than traditional marketing campaigns. This is because people like to make up their own minds about a solution to their problem; not be sold one. Eighty percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information through a series of articles, versus an advertisement.
2. Smarter Analytics/Marketing Automation
As a part of content marketing, how you follow up with a lead has become more intuitive in 2016. Marketing automation is an integral part of the content marketing process. In a perfect world, a potential customer comes to your site, sees the value of your products or services, and makes a purchase. But our customers don’t usually operate in that world. That’s where marketing automation tools (such as those offered by Hubspot) come into place. After people come to your site, automated emails containing additional information such as white papers or other educational materials can be generated, sent and integrated into your CRM system. The end result is that the lead is not lost and you have a better chance of getting the sale.
3. Mobile App Indexing
A few years ago I predicted that apps would completely replace websites. While that prediction may have been premature, app indexing is a major step toward that outcome. Similar to how SEO and SEM techniques can optimize websites, app indexing enhances the search-ability and visibility of web applications. This is important because as more users move toward mobile browsing through tablets and phones, apps are simply more convenient than keying in a website. Having an app for your product or service makes that mobile browsing more convenience, which in turn can result in an increased chance of ROI.
4. Social Media Channel Expansion
Every day it seems like a new social media channel is unveiled. While most never make it out of the infancy stage (i.e. Ello) those that do provide another avenue for communicating. But just because it’s a shiny new object, that doesn’t mean you need to use it. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will remain the mainstays for the foreseeable future. But you need to continue researching these new channels to see if they are a good fit. Pinterest or Instagram are great if you have the need for a lot of visual communication, while Untappd could be the answer for a beverage company or distributor. The important thing is to choose wisely! Just don’t be one of those sites that has 20 social icons on it! YouTube is also an amazing social tool, which we will get into next…
Video – whether informational clips or advertisements – will continue to be big in 2016. They’re the best way to show people “how to” do something, and YouTube continues to be the 800-pound gorilla in the category. You can simply upload videos that are then searchable and viewable. The area where YouTube is growing is the selling of advertising space. Similar to television ad buying, you can target ad space on other people’s videos. Very similar to how Google AdWords work, you can create ads based on your size and scope requirements of what audience you would like to see your message. This can be especially effective if your goal is to expose people to your brand, but you don’t have a compelling video that people are searching for.
6. Paid Click and Sponsored Advertisement
You’ve probably experienced this before: one day you are browsing a product on the Internet; the next day when you are on Facebook you see an advertisement for that product. This technique is based on your search history or your location. As a business, take advantage of it! While Google AdWords have been around for years, social media sponsored ads can pinpoint your reach to very specific geo-locations, searches or “page-likes.” And, they are relatively cheap. (Facebook boasts you can start for as low as $5.) My experience shows that AdWords can be one of the quickest ways to get results for a customer to find your business.
Virtual Reality – Sounds crazy, but VR is making a comeback thanks to the gaming and entertainment industries. Will this flow over into the B2B market place? Can you picture yourself in a VR store and purchasing products via eCommerce? I think it has great opportunity to succeed.
Wearables – Apple Watch, Fitbit, Google Glasses. We are integrating media and technology into what we wear more and more every day. Where exactly this leads may be one of my trends in 2017.
Do you agree with our list? Is there something we missed or that may be just as important as the points above? Comment below and let us know what you think will be “the next big thing” in digital marketing. For more information on current digital marketing solutions and services, we encourage you to contact us!