FoM18: 5 things you need to know
This is the second post in a three-part series looking at B2B marketing trends that are driving change between now and 2022. You can check out parts one and three here. If you’d like to comment, please contact me at Jeremy.firstname.lastname@example.org
Trend 2: Re-establish Content Priorities
Top of the funnel content will always be important, especially for our B2B technology buyers early their journeys, or if they’re passively consuming your brand information. Given the number of people involved in the buying decision, though, lower funnel influence will get greater emphasis in order to improve win-rate over the other 3.2 technology vendors that typically end up on short-lists.
Top of funnel tactics like blog posts, videos, infographics, media coverage and eBooks continue to be important. But lower funnel tactics such as white-papers, case studies, and how-to guides need greater emphasis, especially as these assets are ideal for sharing within a buyer’s enterprise.
Social media, in particular, will come under the spotlight as B2B brands determine the correct tactical emphasis across their marketing mix. While B2B buyers continue to use multiple social media platforms in their decision-making (especially Twitter and LinkedIn), our new millennial buyer is less reliant on social. These channels are effective at the top-of-funnel, but interpersonal relations become more critical the closer they get to a buying decision.
I’m not saying B2B brands should move away completely from exploring emerging consumer technologies and social channels in particular. But ROI pressure and the merging of marketing, communications, IT, and sales functions will mean marketers are increasingly accountable for more meaningful customer metrics such as in-person meetings.
We will move increasingly away from basic awareness metrics toward KPIs that attribute marketing activities to more profound (and measurable) downstream sales engagements and revenue generation.
Trend 3: Real Time is the Only Time
CNN, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook Live have made sure there’s no such thing as a media cycle. You can’t go to bed at night and assume that the story will have moved on by the next day. We can’t fight this. We need to prepare for it – and embrace it – as the next five years we will see a continued need from our buyers to get information on their terms.
Feeding the real-time machine are the numerous messaging apps, which are becoming the defacto home screen for many buyers. This is fueled by chatbots, led by major social and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google, Skype, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter DM, and WeChat.
B2B buyers are becoming used to messaging platforms and engaging with consumer brands through the feeds. This will quickly set an expectation that they can manage similar discussions with their prospective vendors. While AI-fueled bots won’t replace the millennial buyer’s need for bottom-funnel real-world interactions, it will be a pre-requisite for top-of-funnel research.
Live streaming video will become another real-time non-negotiable tactic. Millennial buyers group up in the age of online video, and while many marketers find it cost-prohibitive, new tools and skills are moving it up the list of preferred tactics.
And finally, we can’t exclude the role of immersive content in the B2B decision. The HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR and Samsung Gear VR are less than a year old, and have yet to get widespread adoption.
By 2022, AI, VR and Mixed Reality real-time experiences will have benefitted from technical improvements, price reductions, social acceptance – and the realization that immersive content is perfectly suited to supporting complex B2B technology sales.
Keep an eye out for the next trend, Meet the New Marketing Pro…