B2B marketing trends for 2017 will be like the movie Terminator 2.
I came to this realization last night while searching for a classic sci-fi flick. If you know the story, you know that machine Arnold gets friendly with John Connor in the sequel.
Because there’s better, more evolved technology out there to contend with, aka the crazy-powerful T2000.
My point is, B2B marketing trends in 2017 will be about making the best things better. And getting more familiar with our existing systems.
Machine learning will go big this year. AI will infiltrate current technology to allow more seamless brand experiences and free up costly man-hours.
Automation will become more valuable, sales processes more efficient, data usage more agile.
Just like the quicksilver T2000 compared to regular ol’ Arnold.
Today’s campaigns via personalization, video, influencer and account based marketing will also continue to grow stronger.
Content creation and distribution will be more integrated and important, with ROI-focused initiatives giving us more reach and targeting across channels via expanding data sets.
Let’s see how 2017 will be a blowout year for these marketing trends and shift the landscape in the future.
#1 Account Based Marketing
Who doesn’t want to flip the sales funnel upside down for better ROI? According to a Demandbase survey, 45% of marketers are testing or have adopted account-based marketing and 75% plan to use ABM in the future. The goal of ABM is to improve efficiency and gain higher revenues from marketing efforts while using fewer resources. All you do is target valuable accounts instead of pursuing an ocean of unknown leads.
80% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM is outperforming other marketing investments. And 84% say ABM is significant in retaining and expanding client relationships. Sounds good to me! A high-potential account demands a pinpoint campaign, so IP-based targeting plays a huge role in accessing individuals within key companies. As marketing strategist Eric Whitlakes explains from his blog:
“IP targeting can broadly reach a target company. Think of it like a billboard outside an office: nearly anyone working in that location has the potential to see it.”
The next step is onboarding offline databases and matching them with data providers. Account based advertisers, such as Terminus, will target individuals within the company for greater effect, a landslide of messaging.
“If IP targeting is like a billboard, think of this more like an email list purchase. You only reach individuals that match your select criteria.”
B2B marketers have always been relegated to B2C-built advertising platforms. ABM serves to let companies influence prospects and leads at different stages of the journey, letting marketers optimize media spending on CTRs and form submission on a real-time basis. Because ABM allows companies to combine the efficiency of targeted email outreach with display advertising for great impact, expect it to make waves in 2017.
#2 Machine Learning
In 2017, AI will segue from science fiction into marketing reality. We already see chatbots learning like, dislikes and assisting customers in real-time. Beyond deep learning and higher level analytics feeding into marketing automation platforms for increased targeting and personalization, machine learning algorithms will make a diverse range of marketing channels more potent.
Gartner predicts as of 2018, 20% of business content will be written by machines. So long as the article is factual and straightforward, viewers are incapable of discerning between a computer and human authors, As seen above, the Associated Press is making good use of AI to report financial news. AI-generated articles have the tag, “This story was generated by Automated Insights.” Comcast and Samsung are already using this technology which can write 2,000 articles per second.
Expect machine learning’s automated interactions with big data to help out with programmatic advertising as well. Machine-directed ad buys increase ads clicks while increasing efficiency and potency in planning, buying and optimizing ads across demographics and channels.
Want help with targeting? Ask the machine! Clustering algorithms will be able to return predictive insights that would have formerly required countless man-hours. AI pores over emails, previous conversion and past behaviors in search of data to figure each prospect’s position in the pipeline. By collecting data and acting upon future adaptations through next-level A/B testing, machine learning can filter through sales lists to improve pipeline forecasting as well.
These days, personalization is massive. From emails to display ads to pre-filled forms, marketers are looking into 2017 with an eye toward creating individual interactions across all channels. The most successful will provide a seamless, unique brand experience for customers at every touchpoint via insights from scoring technologies, personal profiles and big data. Giosg, the machine learning personalization service pictured above, shows us how personalization boosts ROI, whether streamlining purchasing or making content hyper-specific and time-sensitive.
The challenge arrives in segmenting effectively. According to a recent Kahuna survey, 85% of surveyed companies think their segments are too broad to be truly effective. Technology seems to limit most, as 32% said they were technological unable to build an effective view of the customer and 46% said legacy technology was holding them back. At the same time, 71% of top-level marketers are tailoring their messaging exclusively to decision makers.
What does this mean? Technology and automation platforms will merge with pinpoint data sets and machine learning in 2017.
#4 More Video, Better Video, All the Time
Have you heard the news? Content is king – and video is the crown jewel of 2017. Any brands that don’t accommodate viewer preferences for moving pictures will suffer for it. Let’s consider the numbers from Hubspot:
Yes, with consumption up and viewer appreciation on the rise, more video and better video is what businesses will be going for this coming year. Looking at the success of Pokemon Go, we can expect virtual and augmented realities to flourish alongside the current visual modes. Perciscope has increased, Facebook Live is going strong and Snapchat is taking over.
Snapchat has evolved into a fully fledged marketing platform (surpassing Facebook) faster than the rest, a real-time means to make followers feel connected to a brand. The ephemeral nature conveys an authenticity that will only be more useful when quickly communicating transparency and values. Let’s get creative and cut to the chase with video in 2017.
#5 The Internet of Things (IoT)
As datasets grow, mobile usership rises, technology expounds and connectivity reaches new heights, the internet of things will increase mightily. For example, car makers like Tesla will become technology companies. Say hello to the Jetsons!
Using on-board computers, cameras, sensors, laser road tracking, the Tesla Model S has an autopilot feature run by machine learning allowing intuitive acceleration, deceleration, self-park – even without the driver in the car. Such capability is only available through automation and intensive layers of connectivity and data transfer.
Businesses have access to some billions of connected devices, each touchpoint is an aspect of a marketers big data dream. The challenge will be utilizing the data effectively and minimizing dark data areas. Expect brands to leverage tech such as beacons, edge devices, clothing, TVs, sensors, fitness apps – and much more – to gather customer information and create more opportunities to create a more significant customer relationship.
#6 Influencer Marketing
What better way to cut the noise of the internet than with an influencer? Between Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, influencers have made social their schoolhouse, attracting tribes of business people hungry for fresh insights. As a top-trending topic in a community focused upon thought leadership, loyal followers are attuned to these informational gatekeepers at the peaks of content.
Since follower numbers are only growing and the want for relevant information will never slow, except influencer marketing strategies to become fixtures in many more organizations. That said, the cost of premier B2B influencer marketing will also increase. Darnit.
#7 Amazing Writing
Thanks to the automation of content creation and the surplus of content already (3,000,000+ blog posts per day) the internet is a loud place. How to make sure your brand messaging is spot-on, always converts and draws the attention it deserves?
Easy, just employ great writers. Hire freelancers, hold employee workshops – whatever it takes.
According to CMI’s most recent Content Report, the average B2B marketer allocates 28% of their total budget to content marketing. But the most effective allocate 42%, while the most developed,allocate 46%. Content spending gets results.
Yes, writing still counts and now more than ever. With all the communication channels available, every touchpoint needs to be finely attuned to deliver the right message in the right way.
“I know people think copywriting is about selling stuff, but that opinion is about as up to date as your CD collection. No. It’s about making yourself useful to your readers. They are looking for something – otherwise they wouldn’t have found your content – so tell them what they want to know and make it as enjoyable as possible for them in the process.”
–Doug Kessler, Velocity Marketing
B2B readers aren’t browsing for pleasure, they’re on a hunt for information. Your content is either going to help them sell products – or it won’t. Emphasize value foremost, but the best content should be both easy and enjoyable to read. Differentiate your brand in 2017 by making your reading rewarding in every way possible.
“Numbers motivate. Stories inspire.”
—Stephanie Tilton, Content Marketing Consultant
Because the human brain is wired to learn through stories, relate to your readers in the way they will appreciate. Give them a compelling anecdote that segues into relevant information. Bringing people along for a ride is a proven tactic to boosting your shares and overall visibility.
While automation increases our reach and influence, we’ll keep steady with marketing strategies that emphasize the best customer journey. This means using influencers, personalization and account based marketing to return solid revenue.
Machine learning will save time, money and create more information for better targeting. While types of AI will improve targeting and customer relationships, it still requires a human hand to operate efficiently.
Companies find themselves mixing machines with the human element, cozying up to customers and new technology simultaneously. One thing is certain, 2017 will show us some breakthrough moments in marketing.
Fingers crossed for no Skynet.
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