In 2017, B2B marketers will continue to deal with tangible growth and marketing ROI pressures. Below the primary B2B marketing trends that deserve your time and attention and will help you address the challenges, opportunities, and complexities you’ll undoubtedly be presented with this year.
Customer Experience Balance
Probably the most impactful B2B marketing trend in 2017 will be a tighter focus on improving the customer experience while driving growth. Strive to use a balanced approach to building customer loyalty. Instead of focusing solely on “customer-centric” methods based on your customers’ lifetime value, offset it with “customer-focused” techniques that enable you to provide relevant experiences across all touch points and concentrate on what your customers value most. Symmetry between those two approaches will result in higher revenue combined with stronger customer loyalty.
Over the past decade, the Internet, mobility, and social media have upended traditional “command and control” marketing. The pendulum has shifted dramatically to individuals—individuals as buyers and individuals as the voices of their companies. As a result, traditional company branding and digital marketing efforts are no longer sufficient. Especially in B2B environments, executive branding is now considered a necessity.
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning into B2B marketing playbooks will continue to increase this year. In late 2016, Forrester Research predicted that “AI will provide business users with access to powerful insights before they are available to them.”
Through the use of cognitive interfaces in complex systems, advanced analytics, and machine learning technology. Many vendors are already embedding components of cognitive computing capabilities into their solutions. This isn’t just technology for technology’s sake. AI will drive faster business decisions in marketing, e-commerce, product management, and other areas of the business by helping close the gap from insights to action.”
Visual Content Marketing
B2C marketers still place more emphasis on the importance of visual content in their marketing portfolios, but B2B marketers are catching up quickly. The primary driver is the desire to make content more engaging, compelling, and shareable than just the written word. The most common forms of visual content that will be used in 2017 will be video (including 360-degree video), infographics, and images in blogs and social media posts.
Influence marketing isn’t new, but it will begin to mature in 2017. Warren Whitlock, a noted influence marketing pro, says, “Everyone has influence. Influence marketing is the practice of finding the people who are already influencing your market. They will welcome your help to serve their audience better and reward you with reputation and trusted leads.”
Following the trend set by their B2C brethren, B2B marketers will continue partnering with influencers but will focus more on social channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. This year also will mark the rise of micro-influencers in the B2B space, which typically have fewer followers and less reach than their mainstream counterparts, but they also tend to be a lot more focused on one specific topic.