Content marketing—and specifically video marketing—are shaping the B2B marketing landscape this year. And marketers are taking note, loosening their purse strings to make more room to grow their digital footprint.
We’ve trained our consumers to crave authentic, real-time marketing, which they can find in well-thought-out content—and a few other places, too.
Here are a few must-haves in our digital marketing budget to stay ahead of the trends and deliver what our consumers want, when they want it, and how they want it. Each trend helps to bolster reporting, close the loop between marketing and sales, prove ROI, and bring human-to-human marketing to the forefront.
1. Visual Storytelling Meets Live Streams
It doesn’t take Chewbacca Mom to show us how important visual storytelling has become. Consumers like to watch video. As many as four times as many consumers prefer to watch a video over reading text. But producing a video is hard. When you add in no ability to edit, limited consistency, and a lack of strategy, you’ve crafted a recipe for disaster to your brand.
UnMarketing’s Scott Stratten said live video is just content marketing’s latest shiny toy. “Content shouldn’t be a training bra,” he said. People can’t just try it because it looks neat. We have to have a clear plan and real strategy to return measurable KPIs if we want to be successful.
Live stream videos aren’t going anywhere. We can expect the trend to go from novelty to marketing mainstream this year. So the earlier you put a strategy in place, the better. Technology will allow the “consumer as voyeur” model to grow. Add in a sense of urgency to watch now or miss it forever, and you’ve hooked consumers—even in the B2B space.
2. Content Marketing
It’s not exactly news to say content marketing should dominate your brand’s digital marketing budget and strategy in 2017. But the way marketers are approaching content needs to evolve this year. In a world where 13 Potatoes That Look Like Channing Tatum is viral-worthy content, it makes sense to question if good writing is worth the effort. Spoiler alert: It is.
With 88% of B2B marketers in North America already relying on some form of content marketing, people have succumbed to a sort of content shock. They’ve become numb to the mountains of content surrounding them at every corner.
No longer can we just create an onslaught of mediocre content designed to boost search results. We’re competing with everything that’s ever been published in the history of the Internet. Quality matters a whole lot more now than quantity, so invest in it. Around 39% of your peers already plan to boost spending on content this year.
3. Content Distribution
“If you build it, they will come” is a myth in content marketing.
Developing great content is still important, but great content is only noticed if sharing it is an integral piece of your marketing effort. With the mountains of content tangling search results, we need a way to get information in front of our most important contacts. We need our content to live on the channels our customers live on. Great content is important, but effective distribution is the only way people will see it. The success of your distribution efforts this year will have a direct impact on your campaign ROI.
Paid channels can give you a small boost, but 90% of social clicks go to organic content and on Google, organic content commands 80% of clicks. Invest time and resources to find the right channels and build them into your content strategy. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report, marketers want to decentralize content. Many are experimenting with taking their content to new channels to see what resonates best.
4. Internet Of Things
By 2020, the total number of connected devices will more than triple, reaching over 30 billion, according to the latest findings from ABI Research. We have entered the Jetsons’ era of connected devices.
Of course smartphones and tablets will remain essential to the foundation for the IoT ecosystem, but we’ve only just scratched the surface on what’s to come. Consider this: Your car alerts your home thermostat when you’re 10 minutes away to raise or lower the temperature to your family’s comfort for maximum energy efficiency. Wearable devices that monitor your blood pressure send information straight to your doctor. Your water heater sends a diagnostic report to customer service reps and trouble shoots issues before a breakdown occurs. These are in development right now.
This uber-network of connectivity will offer up more data this year that can be used as actionable strategies. And it’s leading the way to more detailed insights on consumer habits and preferences, equipping marketers to target our audiences more accurately and efficiently.
5. Account-Based Marketing
There’s been a seismic shift in marketing that’s taken a serious look at customer-obsessed marketing. This approach teams up marketing and sales to pin a long-term, high engagement revenue relationship with your key accounts—and they call it account-based marketing. ABM quite literally flips your lead funnel on its head. And marketers are loving it—almost as much as their customers. ABM puts focus to the customers who fit your brand’s ideal persona first. And it puts more stake in post-sale customer experience for marketers with the overall goal of creating advocates to market your brand with you.
Last year, more than 70% of B2B marketers said they spent more of their budgets on ABM than ever, and the trend is only expected to continue, according to research from SiriusDecisions. The study found 27% of marketers devoted between 11% and 30% of their total marketing budgets to ABM last year. That’s up from 19% in 2015. Technologies like Salesloft and Salesforce (among others) help tag a list of companies that fit our best-fit customer criteria, so stack them into your digital marketing budget.
6. Email Marketing
Email needs a better PR agency. We’re hearing the same prognosis we did more than a decade ago. Email is dead because Slack works better. Email is dead because no one uses it anymore. Email is dead because spam has choked what was left of it. But here’s the thing: Email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter, according to a study from McKinsey & Co.
There are more than 2.6 billion active email users across the globe, according to The Radicati Group. And 55% of company decision makers actually prefer to communicate almost exclusively through email. Not to mention the return on investment is more than any other digital asset at a staggering 4,300%, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Every dollar we spend on email marketing offers an average return of $44, according to my pals over at Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Email is not dead. It’s not even close to dead. It’s alive and growing. So invest in growing your email newsletter and your subscription list. If you haven’t hopped on the segmentation train yet, now is the time. MailChimp’s latest user data showed segmented campaigns get 14.63% more opens and 94.27% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
7. Cross-Device Marketing
Putting our message where our audience lives online isn’t a new idea, but it just got a lot harder. The average consumer is connected through at least five addressable devices. That means, as marketers, we’re looking at five times the work to make sure the content we’ve created is optimized for whichever platform our audience wants to digest it on.
We need to be where our audience is and talk in the language they understand. New platforms, like wearable devices, are going mainstream this year. Other platforms we haven’t even thought about yet will emerge, too. So make sure there’s enough room in your budget to experiment on them before you’re left behind the trend.