For many companies, April represents a new financial year and new marketing strategies and budgets are often allocated at this time.
And for b2b marketing teams, the world continues to move on apace, with new techniques, technologies and ideas proliferating, making the job more varied and interesting. Here are Rostrum’s seven key trends for b2b marketing that marketers need to be aware of.
Account based marketing will continue to grow in importance. Beyond a focus on vertical sectors, targeting specific major customers and tailoring campaigns and content to them enables marketers to be much more tailored, focused and results-oriented. It also enables much more effective measurement of success in terms of relationship-building, direct sales support and revenue generation. Expect the principles of ABM to become ever more embedded in b2b marketing strategies this year.
The success of effective thought leadership continues to be a focus for b2b marketers and we expect to see more investment in thought leadership this year. What is changing is the way in which thought leadership is designed and delivered – we’re seeing much more of a focus on quicker, more responsive activations, less ‘set piece’ campaigns which take 6 months to plan and execute combined with smarter use of data and insights. Where companies have strong, diverse portfolios of subject matter experts, campaigns continue to foreground those experts and build thought leadership initiatives around them.
PDFs have been the default publishing format for so much b2b marketing content in the past – but times are changing and many b2b marketers are electing to deploy and build content in more interesting, interactive formats which offer much greater transparency and insights into how, where and when readers are engaging with the content. Rostrum favours the Shorthand platform – and you can see some of our work in Shorthand here – but there are other options out there including Ceros, Turtl and more.
Interconnectivity and integrated campaigns are becoming ever more desirable as marketers seek to ‘build once, deploy many’ times. Given that most b2b brands have multiple audiences that need to be reached and engaged with content, PR and messaging – so bringing together content for earned, shared, paid and owned channels and supporting the sales team with content and tools to support conversion is crucial and is a key focus for b2b marketers.
Some/all of the content and campaigns that are created should live on-page in an accessible content hub. PR’s role in the integrated mix is to offer the authenticity of third-party endorsement and to test the effectiveness of content – if a respected publication will run a story, that content is likely to resonate with other audiences. Social media enables marketers to understand audiences better via social listening and to engage clients/prospects directly via paid and organic.
The world is not slowing down, and that means b2b marketing and comms teams need to be set up to move and respond much more quickly to breaking issues, industry developments and crisis situations. The right agency/client team partnership should enable effective social listening, media monitoring and horizon-scanning to ensure that brands have the best possible chance of picking up something that could be a potential threat to their reputation – but brands also need to be realistic about what is and isn’t possible to spot in advance. Solid reputation management processes and procedures need to be in place and they need to be road tested and workshopped on a regular basis to ensure that they are current and robust. For more insights into how you can manage reputational risk for your organisation subscribe to the Rostrum podcast series ‘Managing Reputational Risk’.
Audiences are fragmented, complex and fluid. Most b2b decisions involve multiple decision-makers with varying priorities, preferences and requirements. That said, it has never been easier to gather data about audiences, what kind of content they consume and engage with and where their attention is devoted. LinkedIn plugins such as AI-based Crystal offer personalised insights for individual prospects based on their LinkedIn profile, for example. Effective social listening programmes will give b2b marketers real-time insights into where and how their prospects and clients are spending their working time online.
An increasing number of brands are now looking to weave influencer strategies into their overall marketing mix. But influencer marketing can be a challenging discipline to get right, operating as it does in the margins between paid, owned and earned channels and demanding a genuine partnership and authentic content in order to really reach its full potential. For Rostrum’s five principles of b2b influencer marketing, click here.