2014 was the year of the selfie, declining social media reach and the year of the mobile with users now expecting sites to be mobile responsive (adaptable view on mobile phones) and mobile becoming central to every digital consideration. But what are the hot trends for B2B marketing in 2015? Here are some predictions for emerging digital trends in B2B marketing for 2015.
1. Content Marketing Diversity
Content Marketing has become a key element of a B2B digital marketing strategy. Content marketing is widely defined as creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content (text, visual, audio, video) to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. The first step for many businesses commencing a content marketing strategy has been text only blogging but integration of more visual and interactive content is now expected from users. We see an increased demand for the development of infographics, charts, graphs, video production to retain audiences’ ever increasingly diminishing attention span.
2. Amplification of Content Distribution
The distribution of content in B2B marketing traditionally was confined to email, organic social media and a promotional panel on a company’s website, but the sheer volume of noise on social media channels and email inboxes has meant that it has become difficult to capture the attention of recipients. It has become clear that content marketing promotion results cannot rely solely on organic channels anymore to maximise impact. Twitter is a time sensitive distribution channel and Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm mean that on average Facebook posts are reaching less than 6% of their audience. Businesses should not be afraid to put a budget behind the distribution of their content. The targeting options on the mainstream channels Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube mean that it is possible to pinpoint a key target audience with even a limited budget. Facebook has been long considered a B2C channel. However there are 2.4 million active users in Ireland between the ages of 18-65 logging in daily, many of whom are key decision makers. Facebook is now a key real world news source rivaling Twitter.
These users can be targeted in a B2B context by these key attributes:
- Work information such as job title, employer and industry
- Interests which can be based on what individuals have liked and engaged with historically and also the pages they have liked
- Behaviours such as an individuals propensity to travel or adopt new technology
LinkedIn and Twitter also offer some of these targeting opportunities but the key is to identify the channels that will provide the best ROI.
3. Native Advertising
Native advertising, publisher-produced brand content, is similar in concept to a traditional advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article. Native advertising can be a subset of content marketing. According to Emarketer it is expected to increase to $6.8 billion in the US by 2017. Publishers are struggling to monetise their digital publications. The cost of banner advertising can be as low as €0.001 per page view and this has put huge pressure on publications to come up with innovative ways to monetise their sites. Native advertising such as the The New York Times for Orange is the New Black campaign has been highly success because it is relevant to the context of the show and is an exploratory piece on a societal issue.While there is already a narrative behind the hit series, the article works because it is thought provoking for readers.
For B2B it can be an emerging industry topical piece that intrinsically links to the expertise that the business has in its area. With so many niche digital publications this is an underutilised technique in B2B marketing that will explode in 2015.
4. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is the process of not only triggering automated communications but according to a score system in the integration of a brand’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and email marketing software. Automation of the scoring allows companies to set rules and thresholds based on their digital behaviour or stored data in the CRM. It is particularly effective in our experience where the buying cycle may take weeks, months or years for complicated high risk purchases.
With all the different technologies available the advent of 4G making it easier than ever for brands to provide an interactive experience. Gamification is the concept of applying game design thinking to provide an entertaining, engaging and challenging experience that rewards players. B2B brands such as Oracle, SAP, Jive, Cisco, Pearson and Salesforce have used gamification to great impact to engage their B2B audiences. Sap has been a pioneer in this area with their contributor recognition program to encourage knowledge sharing and networking by using some game mechanics such as points, status levels, badges and leaderboards to foster a motivated community through rewards.
Gamification has high stakes, with a lot of effort and cost to implement and risk of failure but if successful can amass a huge amount of customer resonance and brand empathy.
Overall the objective of any marketing is to provide the best ROI possible. Formulating a digital strategy in 2015 should include both brand and direct response campaigns. B2B purchases are high risk with potentially a long buying cycle which means it is essential to strike a balance between harvesting the low hanging fruit ensuring cash flow in the short term and building brand credibility for the long term.