Trends change constantly.
Not staying up to date with what works in business will make your company fall behind.
Competitors get ahead, the needles don’t move, and worst case you have to close up shop.
Luckily, there’s one easy way around this…
By studying trends and patterns.
That’s why I set out to interview 21 experts to hear what they believe are the most important B2B marketing trends.
Here’s what they had to say:
Mobile-first SEO is becoming mandatory
Erico Franco is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Agencia de Marketing Digital.
“A big trend in B2B marketing will be to focus more on mobile SEO. In September 2020, Google will switch all websites to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google will increase the focus of mobile user experience to evaluate websites on SEO. A good way to be prepared is to use Google PageSpeed Insights to check and make your website more mobile-friendly.”
Become more active on YouTube
Desiree Martinez is the Founder of the social media marketing agency All in One Social.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.
“In 2020, the most effective marketing method for my agency and the clients we serve is using Youtube. Youtube is the platform that keeps on giving! You can create actionable evergreen content that can be repurposed and used over and over again.
With one video, you can have content for:
- Email marketing
- Native video upload
- Social posts
- Social video”
Educate customers with free resources
Eagan Heath is the Founder of the digital marketing agency Get Found Madison.
“I believe it’s more important than ever for B2B companies to lead with free value. Every B2B company that wants to market in 2020 should be focused on creating free assets that would be good enough to pay for. These can be seminars, webinars, free tools or free guides. All of which need to answer prospects questions and guide them from pain aware to solution aware to brand-aware to purchase.
This is why email list growth is so important: when your sales cycle is longer, you need to be able to nurture your marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads.”
Channel your inner Joe Rogan and get into podcasting
“One of the hottest trends in B2B marketing in 2020 is developing or sponsoring a podcast. I’ve been a proponent of podcasting for years and have helped B2B clients develop podcasts.
Ten years ago for five years, I co-hosted a weekly podcast, DadsUnplugged, where I learned the power of podcasting first-hand.
Although my digital agency wasn’t a formal sponsor, I secured a client in Singapore that was a new father and realized I might be able to help after listening to a few episodes.
I should also note that we recently helped build a content and marketing strategy for the Craving The Future podcast, which resulted in the host landing a global hotel client within months after launching.
We’ve learned a good deal as we’ve built out additional podcast strategies for ourselves and our clients. Podcast best practices we recommend:
- Start small: The basic equipment is very low cost (existing laptop and Internet connection) to modest cost (digital microphone and editing software). As you gain comfort and an audience, increase your investment by upgrading your mic, mixer and editing software, as well as consider a dedicated studio space.
- Market aggressively: In terms of promoting the podcast (outside of your own marketing channels and network) the techniques are similar to promoting YouTube video content:
- Optimize podcasts to rank in related searches.
- Syndicate across podcast channels like iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
- Buy targeted advertising on podcast networks, Google and social platforms.”
Create targeted and exciting content
“Content marketing research is a unique and effective tactic all marketers should leverage in 2020. When conducting a content survey, questions are structured in a way to generate intriguing and shocking insights to catch the attention of customers and potential buyers.
The results can be used to create multiple content deliverables such as website copy, blog posts, white papers, competitor comparison cards, and more.
Marketers interested in content marketing research can utilize platforms such as SurveyMonkey to create a survey and send it to their list of customers. A market research company can also help execute this process from start to finish.”
Use co-marketing as leveraged growth
“The biggest trends that we have seen over the last few years and especially right now due to COVID-19 are the following:
- Buyers are more sophisticated, there are more products on the market, and especially in these times (COVID-19), they are not looking to be marketed to or sold to in the traditional methods.
- B2B email marketing and automation have created prospect fatigue and diminishing returns.
- Going to the market alone will become increasingly difficult, especially as the number of B2B software companies continues to pop-up.
Co-marketing partnerships can unlock an underutilized B2B channel. What is co-marketing? When two marketing teams selling complementary products, drive aligned GTM activities through overlapping customer relationships.
CoSell makes the process of co-marketing and co-selling easy and secure by allowing B2B companies to connect their CRM, invite trusted partners, and surfaces the overlap in leads, contacts, and accounts to ensure a targeted and aligned GMT strategy.”
Don’t fall behind with digital transformation
The Marketing Introvert is a digital marketer who’s fed up with content marketing and SEO tips that don’t work (or at least not as well as they did years ago).
“Right now, a lot are playing catch-up. The coronavirus pandemic made companies aware that they are not ready for digital transformation. But they also realized that they can still operate, or find a way to continue business despite the fact.
After playing catchup, I believe two things will grow exponentially: digital offerings and cybersecurity.
This pandemic will change the way everyone works and behaves. Traditional businesses now know that they have to do business online.
Instead of delaying digital transformation, they have to embrace it now if they want to survive. That’s why when we all come out of this, the companies and people who can adapt to the “new normal” will win.
In terms of cybersecurity, this also made us aware of how our online habits are detrimental to us and everyone around us. Just look at how cybercriminals are blatantly sending out phishing emails to take advantage of this situation.
My recommendation here is to develop your own cybersecurity strategy and policies before you need it. We’ve been saying this for years now, but seriously, bring IT to the table. “
Scale your content marketing
Kevin Miller is the Founder and CEO of The Word Counter.
“One of the things I’m taking advantage of in this down economy is content creation. In 2020, content is king!
Optimizing your content is the best thing you can do. When Google is ranking your site for particular keywords, it’s looking at how well your content answers the question of the person who’s searching.
I update content once per six months and I will do it more often if the content needs to change drastically based on current events.
I try to make the writing so thorough and detailed that it will not need updating on a regular basis.
At the moment, I am increasing content spend because many others are slowing down.
Also, writers have a greater capacity to get new topics completed. It helps me plan out the entire years’ worth of content and get it at a cheaper rate.
Additionally, It feels great to give work to people who are really in need right now and allows me to feed money back into the freelance writing economy that can use it.
My typical monthly content budget for The Word Counter is $2,000/month and I am doubling it to $4,000/month during this time. We are publishing one new post per day and will continue to do so in perpetuity!
This will help to grow our business and then we will layer on affiliate marketing, email marketing, and potentially paid Facebook ads and Google Adwords on top of our SEO strategy. “
Nurture relationships and start communities
“Many of us in marketing believe that attention is everything. So we are obsessed with views and clicks. This ‘attention economy’ is never questioned because it keeps delivering vanity results.
But there’s an uncomfortable truth for marketers underneath all this. Brands no longer own their relationship with customers, it’s Facebook and Instagram who owns these relations.
One of the big trends we are seeing now is the shift from advertisement to building and nurturing a sense of belonging between brands and customers.
We see a lot of businesses both big and small who now heavily invest in their own niche brand communities. As a result, they increase customer loyalty, improve customer experience and retention, and shift from paid advertisement to word-of-mouth.
So, here are some ideas on how a brand can start wit’s own brand community:
- Establish your business goals before launching a community. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of why you are creating a community for your customers.
- Assess the level of interest. Is there going to be enough interest in your community concept for its member count to grow over time and, if not, will it be possible to generate significant buzz? Try to think of interest, hobby, or a topic that unites your customers.
- Choose your community platform. There is a range of platforms from open-source to white-label.
- Create a distinguished layout. One of the biggest benefits of a niche brand community is that you own the branding!
- Develop a moderation policy
- Build your content calendar. I would recommend preparing a backlog of content for at least 4-6 weeks.”
Stop producing average content
Sashreka Pillay is the Founder of the digital marketing agency Take Us Digital.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.
“I think a key trend this year is finding unique content differentiators.
There are lots of people online. There are also lots of people creating content. It’s difficult to capture and keep attention. It’s more difficult if your content doesn’t grab attention or have something to distinguish itself.
Brands can do this by putting out higher quality, relevant content in different mediums, like video.
Also, finding a balance in sharing pay to play knowledge and content that can help the professionals your service will help them feel like they are only able to get so much value from a knowledge leader like you.”
Use video to showcase personality
“A common struggle for B2B companies is showcasing their brand personality. When you’re a business selling to other businesses, it’s harder to get that “personal” feel.
That’s why video marketing is continuing to grow as an effective way to bring life and personality to B2B businesses–it provides the real-time aspect of the inner workings of your company!
But what separates the good from the great is the quality of your script–whether you’re hiring an agency or using an in-house video production team, make sure your script is the backbone of your video.”
Deeply personalized user experiences
The main B2B trend I see is dynamic personalization. This is where a website is dynamically changed to match a visitor one-on-one.
This is done based on deep recognition, where data gets enhanced automatically from an IP, street address, company, industry, and other characteristics.
This technique seriously improves website conversion since everything is tailor-made for the reader; the cases on a website match your industry, the features are describing exactly what you need, and even the pictures match your business’ context.
There are several software tools that can make this possible, like Clearbit, Optimizely and Segmentify.
But since that software may be too advanced or too expensive, I would advise starting simple: create niche-specific landing pages for your customers and send them to the most suited page or personalize your emails based on CRM data.
Publish pillar and cluster content
Michelle Peterson is the Sr. Content Strategist at Br8kthru Consulting.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.
“The biggest trend we’re seeing is a pillar and cluster strategy to organize website content.
We all know that it’s not enough to create content for the sake of creating content—but it’s easy to get stuck in that cycle.
Organizing content for a pillar and cluster strategy based on long-term SEO goals brings structure to content creation.
It also moves businesses toward their long-term goals by aiding in clicks to the company website through search engines.
With a solid strategy executed over time, those increased website visits lead to increased revenue.”
Become a thoughtleader on LinkedIn
Eric Elkins is the CEO of WideFoc.us Social Media.
“LinkedIn thought leadership development designed to drive lead generation will be one of the big B2B trends for the year.
During these turbulent times, companies have the opportunity to become a trusted resource for their potential customers.
After optimizing their LinkedIn company pages and their key leadership profiles, consistent posting of relevant, helpful, credible content will build goodwill and a foundation of trust for future business.
And with cost-per-click and cost-per-lead at an all-time low due to minimal competition for ad space (because so many companies have slashed their ad spending), paid campaigns to increase post visibility and drive website clicks and new leads are less expensive and more effective than they’ve ever been.”
“Blast and pray” cold emails are a thing of the past
“Cold email campaigns, often known as ‘blast and pray’ campaigns, are no longer enough. B2B marketers need to create an authentic, personal connection in their email campaigns and pitches—I especially recommend using LinkedIn messaging.
Instead of sending pitches with generic reasons why a lead should buy your product, go the extra mile.
Spend the time to create personalized reach outs that specifically call out why you want to work with that company and what you can provide them with that they aren’t getting right now.”
Device detection and future targeting
“The biggest trend we are seeing is mobile geo-conquesting using device detection.
With device detection, you can find mobile devices that have been at a specific address location and capture those devices for future targeting.
Retail stores, for instance, can capture devices that have been to their own stores and their competitors. Device detection can occur in real time or via a lookback of up to six months prior.
One of the coolest things about geo-conquesting is that it is also possible to determine which devices that showed your advertising, then visited the advertiser’s store.
This then validates the effectiveness of the advertising and the customers are coming back over and over again.”
Use the golden email marketing ratio
“Studies have discovered that for every $1 you put into email marketing you generate $38.
The best way to ensure that happens is by constantly engaging with your audience and making them offers via newsletters.
Send your list one to two emails emails every week so that they can continuously see you in their inbox.
Additionally, here’s an effective rule of thumb: for every three educational emails you send, send one sales email.”
Be transparent and honest with customers
Jason Lavis is the Managing Director at Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
“Due to the current crisis, the most important thing to realize is that most variables are not within our control.
In normal business conditions, a talented marketer could move across companies, industries and even countries and replicate previous results.
That is no longer the case for the foreseeable future. Many sectors are mandated to shut down, and in others, customers have been prevented from buying by the stay at home rules. Even Donald Draper would admit defeat right away.
For now, we need to move away from an internal focus such as “we can do this” or “lets up our game”. Winners in the marketing of 2020 and beyond will be the ones that have a clear view of reality.
This view means messaging with integrity to our market, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know. It also involves noticing new opportunities and capitalizing on them.
Right now, it’s clear that home delivery and work from home software are booming markets, you don’t need to be a marketing guru to see that.
Over time, we will see similar opportunities, both in business verticals, and small pivots within others that currently seem dire.”
Take advantage of less competition in PPC
Kenzi Wood is an experienced freelance writer who partners with marketing agencies.
Connect with her on Twitter.
“While many brands are pausing their PPC ads, the best thing B2B brands can do is pivot their existing campaigns. Actually, with so many advertisers pausing PPC, there’s less competition. It’s a good way to find traction in an uncertain market.
Rework your customer personas, create campaigns for each persona, and create funnel-specific ad groups (Awareness, Consideration, Decision).
You’ve got to drill down and get more specific; this campaign structure makes it possible. From there, adjust your ad copy and landing pages to address customer pain points.
Headlines like, “Stuck at home?” are performing well right now. Always address your customers’ new reality to show you understand their struggles.”
Trust is a new currency
“Trust. In the age of COVID-19 and after the pandemic, trust is the biggest hurdle B2B marketers need to overcome.
There are many different means to build trust. For one, publishing original content that includes case studies, figures, and percentages will move the needle.
Another idea is to have your customers speak on behalf of you. This show instead of tell approach does wonders to build credibility.
And lastly, make an incredibly strong offer where you take on all the risk, and not the buyer.
For example, offer a guarantee of results or their money back. Or, pitch a profit-sharing arrangement where you don’t get compensated if they don’t make a profit.
By aligning yourself with the company you’re marketing, they will feel safe partnering with you. That’s key in this age of disinformation from the media, governments, and corporations.”
Get ahead with AI marketing automation
“Data visualization and AI-powered solutions have already taken a great leap, and it’s no surprise since over 45% of all brands use marketing automation.
Considering that more and more solutions are trying to simplify marketing processes, AI is a definite winner when it comes to taking your B2B marketing to the next level.
For brands looking to scale their business with segmenting the right audience, it would only make sense to use an automation analytics system to better understand how their brand is perceived and to identify channels so that they can better connect with that target audience.”
Thank you to all of the wonderful people that contributed their deep insights for this article.
Please check out their businesses and content if it resonates with you.
Feel free to reach out to me if you need marketing consulting services to help out with the array of strategies these experts covered today too.