B2B Marketing in 2019: More Evolution than Revolution
Evolutions in marketing technology and tactics don’t organize themselves by calendar year. Yet, at the end of every 12 months we tend to look backward and try to determine what the big story was, and then, in turn, look forward and try to guess what the big story (or stories) will be.
In many, if not most cases, trends of the upcoming year are simply extensions of what’s already taking place. Nonetheless, it’s helpful for marketers to see what others think will be the primary storylines in coming months. So, we’ve surveyed the marketersphere (not a real word) and found a few elements of marketing that experts think will be of importance to B2B marketers in 2019.
Connecting the (data) dots
We know it’s all about data now, and as businesses learn to capture, harness and make use of all their digital data, the marketing team will benefit. Integration of CRM with marketing automation and account-based marketing will give marketers the most complete view ever of their customers.
Another trend that won’t be new for 2019, but is hard to ignore, is programmatic ad buying. eMarketer estimates that 84 percent of all digital display ad spending will take place programmatically next year. That’s up from 65 percent in 2015.
The ease of personalized targeting and detailed metrics to measure make it attractive to businesses, and of course as data on customers become clearer, that targeting will get even more precise and ROI on ad buys will increase.
Having real-ish conversations
The preferred method of selling has always been a conversation. But you can’t have a sales rep every place, all the time. However, thanks to messaging technology and live chat applications, it’s getting easier to scale conversational selling.
As younger generations move into decision-making roles, they bring different buying habits with them. Millennials are more likely than their predecessors to rely on reviews and peer recommendations. What they’ve seen on social media can impact their thought process.
Building advocacy from your customers can help spread the word-of-mouth (albeit digital in many respects), and robust DMPs can help you personalize the conversations you have with buyers.
It’s not just about the product
Marketing’s influence in the C-suite and across the enterprise has grown in recent years, and in 2019 this might be most notable in HR. The current employment landscape and so-called “war for talent” has necessitated marketers taking a bigger role in helping organizations develop and polish their brands to better recruit talent. Along the same lines, internal communications efforts, such as company intranets and newsletters, will aim to help retain talent already in the building.
Branding has typically been a characteristic of B2C marketing. But as the internet shrinks the size of our world, allowing small businesses to be potentially global players, competition is fiercer than ever. B2B firms can no longer get by on a logo and tagline. You need a value proposition and a distinct position in the marketplace. Social causes have also become a differentiator among brands. In 2019, B2B marketing departments will focus on efforts to boost their company brands.
Emerging ad tech and trends are also often the domain of B2C marketers. However, innovative firms will look for ways to leverage some of the new B2C gadgets. A few have some logical uses in B2B marketing. Virtual reality is an example. While it’s not the same as, say, giving a consumer the feeling of a beach vacation, VR can give business clients the experience of trying products they might not otherwise have to opportunity to. Another emerging technology, chatbots, might also be integrated into sales and/or customer service.
Other consumer trends aren’t so directly applicable, like voice search, which is being driven by the rise in personal assistant devices. But you can bet there are creative marketing teams out there developing ways to incorporate the technology into their sales approaches.
Marketing revolutions don’t spring from nothing, so it’s unlikely an earth-moving shift is eminent in 2019. From here, it looks to be more – though perhaps improved – trends of 2018 that carry us in the new year. Businesses will also make continued use of content marketing, and you can read about the specific content marketing trends for 2019 here.