Digital marketing is always evolving, so you can expect a few changes to show up in the B2B marketing field from one year to the next. So what surprises will 2017 have in store for B2B marketers? Here are the main marketing trends to look for next year.
Content has been king for years now, and it stands to reason that distributing that content – otherwise known as content marketing – has been big for a while, too. But it’s about to get even bigger in the B2B world. As we saw in one report this fall, 88 percent of B2B marketers already use content marketing, and 51 percent plan to increase their budget for this tactic in the near future. Similarly, 70 percent plan to produce more content to market in 2017.
Not only that, but more companies plan to have an actual content marketing strategy, complete with a focus on quality over quantity when it comes to B2B content. In addition, many marketers plan to keep the types of content more interesting, adding in videos, podcasts, infographics, and more, instead of just sticking to blog posts.
Sure, video is practically old news now, but it’s certainly not going away. In fact, it’s only getting better, especially with the addition of live video. After all, four times as many people prefer to watch a video than read, and of course video is known for being among the most engaging types of content. Thanks to major platforms like Periscope, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram making live video easy to work with, 2017 will likely lead to more brands live streaming videos.
Some of the most popular things to live stream include events, product demos, behind-the-scenes tours, interviews, and Q&A sessions with experts. Look for long-form videos to be bigger in 2017, too, with more video series coming on the scene as online videos retain their popularity.
Like videos, images have been hugely popular for years now, and this is only going to be more obvious in 2017. In particular, you’ll likely see more images in tweets next year. User-generated content will also continue to rely heavily on images, as 70 percent of Americans surveyed said they are more likely to buy a product after they see it in user-generated pictures.
You might also see more brands getting creative with their visual content, such as by turning a series of pictures into an animation to share on social media. Another example of visual marketing you might see more of in 2017 is the shoppable video, which more brands are trying out lately. Shoppable videos allow customers to immediately buy certain products after seeing them in a video, a tactic that can increase the chance of a purchase by up to 85 percent.
If you expect to reach buyers these days, you need to personalize your content. This means creating targeted news articles, blog posts, videos, emails, and social media updates that touch on the buyer’s specific pain points. Personalized product recommendations based on the buying history of shoppers are also helpful.
You can personalize your content based on a variety of factors, such as the buyer persona or where the buyer is in the stage of the buying process. This is where marketing automation tools like Marketo and HubSpot come in handy, since automation is one of the best ways to personalize your content – unless you’re up to the task of writing different content for each of your audience members!
Social media has been a content marketing mainstay for the last few years, and 2017 will be no exception. But now, it will feature more live video, as well as more paid ads. In fact, marketers are set to spend nearly $26 billion on paid social media advertising next year, compared to a little over $23 billion in 2015.
If you’re wondering which social networks you should be on in the new year, know that Facebook is here to stay. But LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram continue to grow. And Snapchat is definitely on its way up, considering that 16 percent of marketers now say they’ll increase their time on this app, compared to only 7 percent last year.
Native advertising is a type of paid media that looks like content marketing. This is because it’s meant to look like other more organic blog posts or articles in a publication or on a website, but it’s really paid content promotion. Some of the best examples of native advertising include sponsored posts on LinkedIn, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed, to name a few popular sites that accept native ads.
At this point, many big companies have been using native advertising for a few years, but this is now considered a bigger marketing trend for 2017 because smaller businesses will likely be trying it out, too. That makes sense, considering that US native display ad revenue got to over $16 billion this year and is projected to reach nearly $21 billion next year and $33.5 billion by 2020.
The customer experience is more important than ever, which is why more and more B2B marketers are making customer journey mapping a part of the marketing process. The point of the map is to consider the customer’s experience, from awareness of a product or service to the development of a long-term bond with the brand after purchase. It should consider the customer’s motivations, expectations, and possible pain points along the way.
While these B2B marketing trends will be more apparent in 2017, certain marketing methods won’t necessarily soar in popularity, but will simply continue to be effective. The webinar is one example of a tactic that doesn’t get much fanfare in recent years, but is considered a B2B marketing essential nonetheless. In fact, it’s been rising in effectiveness, especially when it comes to lead generation. Webinars are always in the top five for effective B2B marketing techniques, so it makes sense that they’ll still be widely used in 2017.
Do you currently use any of these B2B marketing methods? And have you heard about any other possible marketing trends for 2017?