This article is part of CMO.com’s December series about 2018 trends, predictions, and new opportunities. Click here for more.
If you’re a B2B marketer, one thing’s for sure: You have struggled with lead generation. The challenging and competitive B2B landscape makes it extremely difficult to generate valuable leads.
In fact, CSO Insights found that to be the biggest challenge for sales organizations. And to top it all off, B2B lead-generation strategies evolve every year as organizations gain new insights that tell them what does and doesn’t work.
It’s little wonder why, then, that keeping your eyes peeled for upcoming developments is incredibly important. For 2018, consider adapting your strategy based on the following trends.
1. Personalized Email Marketing Campaigns
B2C retailers have already embraced personalization. Surely you’ve received personalized recommendations based on your shopping history. And you’ve probably received email with personalized offers from your favorite brands. Clearly, personalization has proved its marketing effectiveness, and now it’s catching on in the B2B industry as well.
Gartner has predicted that by 2018, B2B companies that use personalization in digital commerce will be able to realize up to 15% increase in revenues. And with email being the leading channel for B2B marketers to generate leads, you can expect to see a lot more personalized B2B emails.
ERDM Corp., which conducts specialized voice of customer research for top B2B companies, found that both B2C and B2B consumers appreciate personalized email. When consumers receive generic emails, they perceive that the company doesn’t care enough to understand their individual needs.
So there’s an increasing need among B2B companies to deliver more personalized, relevant email to prospective customers. Personalized email marketing also will help you nurture your leads and eventually convert them.
Personalizing your marketing email can happen in a variety of ways. It could be as simple as including the recipient’s name in the subject line. Or you could send out recommendations and updates personalized according to the recipient’s behavior and interests.
2. Social Video
Video is continuing to become a crucial part of B2B lead generation given that an increasing number of B2B customers are consuming this type of content. In fact, 70% of researchers and buyers in the B2B industry watch videos throughout their purchase journey, according to Google. And 48% of them spend at least 30 minutes watching B2B videos for their research.
So the need for B2B marketers to create video content that will educate and engage their target audience is clear. And if you want to generate more leads, you also will need an effective means to distribute your video. Consider social media, which, according to DemandGen, is where 53% of B2B buyers conduct their research before making a purchase decision.
3. Social Media Live Streaming
You might have noticed that live streaming through social channels has become a popular method for brands to engage customers. The trend is now catching on in the B2B industry, with more and more companies streaming webinars and webcasts to generate leads and engage existing customers.
In fact, a study by the Content Marketing Institute found that live video content is a part of 58% of B2B marketers’ content marketing strategy. And 32% of B2B marketers in the study said webinars and webcasts will play a critical role in their content marketing success.
These numbers point to live videos’ importance for B2B promotions. If you want to generate more leads for 2018, you can expect to compete with businesses conducting live streaming sessions to demonstrate their service or products.
You could prepare for this by planning live Q&A sessions, interviews, and webinars, or even behind-the-scenes live stream of your company.
4. Partnerships With Industry Influencers
Influencers have taken the marketing industry by storm. While you mostly see influencer marketing being used to promote consumer goods, it’s also starting to impact the B2B landscape. In fact, LinkedIn has found that expert opinions are among the most effective types of content for B2B buyers.
However, only 15% of B2B companies are currently running influencer marketing campaigns. This could play to your advantage; the B2B influencer marketing trend is only going to grow. In addition, the challenges posed by ad blocking for both B2C and B2B marketers can be circumvented by brand messages going through real people, such as customers, employees, and influencers.
Note, however, that influencers for B2B buyers won’t be the same as influencers to B2C consumers. Instead of social media stars and niche bloggers, B2B influencers are industry experts and successful entrepreneurs.
5. Content Personalization
In the first point, we discussed the importance of personalization for B2B companies. A recent DemandGen study also found that websites that speak directly to their industries or expertise needs are very important for 66% of B2B buyers. Three-quarters said that an important aspect of a vendor’s website is content that’s relevant to their companies and speaks directly to them.
These numbers show that personalization shouldn’t just be limited to email marketing alone. That’s exactly why B2B marketers are increasingly personalizing their content to generate more valuable leads. By delivering highly relevant content to each individual visitor, you should be able to enhance their experiences and turn them into leads.
You could personalize landing pages, content recommendations, offers, and more. You could create personalized experiences based on the visitor’s job role, industry, behavior, and location. There are also options to personalize content based on which segment the visitor belongs to or the stage of the purchase process.