Seven Predictions for B2B Marketing in 2013
1. A World of Data - Big data is now beginning to resonate with all size organisations. With more sophisticated technology delivering real time data and measurement, we are presented with a plethora of information to generate better insights on our customers. The major challenge still exists in companies’ ability to form a single customer view to aid CRM and marketing effectiveness. The IAB reported that over 50% site a lack of data collaboration as a major source of data ineffectiveness. In the continued demand for customer intelligence, online media owners like Google, LinkedIn and Facebook are quickly developing tools that support this need. Facebook’s marketplace and Google’s analytics reporting platform, will be focussing on closed loop reporting and media attribution to customer sales allowing for far better ROI calculations and media optimisation in the future.
2. Adaptive digital marketing - We will start to see more examples of brands anticipating moments where they can adapt their message to real-world outcomes which are relevant to their brand, and/or reacting to unexpected news in a thought-provoking and disruptive manner. Digital channels will play a key role in delivering adapted messages thanks to their flexibility and immediacy. Expect to see more real-time digital content feeding in to TV ads – as was seen with campaigns in 2012 from BP (‘Home Team’) & Fox Pictures (‘Prometheus’) – both of which fused Channel 4 & Twitter.
3. Nurturing - B2B Sales cycles are inherently long, in some cases lasting over a year. In order to manage this dynamic in marketing we can no longer view response marketing in the traditional lead generation mentality. Aligning marketing to sales in a relevant and engaging fashion is critical to the longer term success and ROI of campaigns.
Demand generation is more cognisant with the needs of sales teams today and an integral element of this strategy is to consider the role of lead nurturing. Too often ‘marketing qualified leads’ are handed off to sales too early and are potentially abandoned due to them not being ready for the sale. They may also re-enter the marketing funnel and receive communications that are not in any way aligned to their specific needs.
Fortunately many clients and media owners are starting to understand the efficiency of personalising content and treating prospects as individuals throughout the sales cycle. Intelligent platforms such Eloqua enable sophisticated attribution of customer values to media and content, ensuring prospects are correctly evaluated based on their specific needs. Similarly, media owners are deploying tools that generate a detailed footprint of a user’s journey and consumption/alignment to content along the sales cycle. The key here is to ensure that all marketing investment is directed at the right individuals and the messaging and content is relevant.
4. Budgets on content production will scale massively - Driven in part by a desire from marketers to connect with their audiences through a compelling and utilitarian offer, customers are demanding value from brands when procuring services in B2B. The implication for marketers is that we will need to generate truly unique customer content that delivers a clear value exchange to the end user. Clever targeting to customers who are at different stages in the buying cycle are clear ways that marketers can drive value from their content strategies. This also plays well to the needs of the sales team who are continuously looking for tools and resources to help them in their sales efforts.
Beyond traditional content, the development of apps for mobile and tablets will be a key consideration with over 80% of business decision makers owning a tablet PC. Apps offer a unique opportunity to forge a deeper connection with customers by offering them a service and not just simply pushing out marketing messages
5. Social Media Outreach will replace traditional ad spend. - As traditional channels of communications shift to digital media, the opportunity for B2B brands will be in how they identify unique ways to generate cut through online. Undoubtedly, a range of content initiatives will be the medium for these conversations and this in turn will lead to marketers seeding and disseminating this through social media outreach as a more cost efficient route to delivering content online.
6. Social Selling - Social marketing will continue to evolve from being mainly used for retention purposes (ie CRM with existing fans/customers) into a more effective acquisition channel where existing fans/customers are leveraged to acquire new customers via social referral. The big social platforms will evolve their evaluation services as brands start to demand more evidence of social marketing success
7. The ‘Internet of Everything’ - Cisco recently launched its brand campaign the ‘Tomorrow starts here’ that focusses on how increasingly; much of what we consume is becoming connected to the internet. The concept is giving rise to a profound shift in cultural norms, where everyday objects from televisions to ovens, become connected devices. This in turn can have a very positive impact on the efficiency of people, companies and countries, creating new and unique ways to communicate.
In media, this has given rise to the term‘Transmedia storytelling’. Set to be a big buzzword for 2013, it encapsulates marketer’s ability to weave messages across multiple connected media. By matching non-personally-identifiable cookies across mobile and desktop, it will be possible to sequentially target messages as the individual user moves from one device to another. This will become possible thanks to advanced data management platforms (DMP’s) and probabilistic algorithms