2018 is set to be an exciting year for B2B marketing. With the industry projected to grow at an annual rate of 12.9% over the next 12 months, the sector is showing no signs of slowing down. So, what lies ahead for B2B marketers? Here, we predict the trends set to dominate the industry over the upcoming year:
On average, it is suggested that six to eight touches are required before a B2B company generates a viable lead. As people in the buying funnel go back and forth in terms of content, having material tailored for only one part of the buyer journey can lead to missed opportunities. While personalisation is widely used in B2C marketing, it could be argued that bespoke messaging is even more crucial in B2B sales, as the process is much more complex. So, why is it that 86% of B2B marketers say they struggle to execute personalisation across the entire buyer journey? In 2018, businesses will put an increased effort into producing personalised content and material, tailoring messages to suit where the customer is in the buying funnel.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Over the past year, AI has been a hot topic dominating the industry. According to a recent survey, 30% of all B2B companies said they will implement some form of AI in the next two years. It is also suggested that by 2025, AI will drive 95% of all customer interactions. In addition to improving communication efforts, AI is useful for supporting a number of other activities including account-based marketing and personalised messaging. In 2018, there will be a greater emphasis on refining AI efforts to enable marketers to better manage customer relationships, make quicker and smarter decisions, improve data analytics as well as increase operating efficiency.
Change in social media landscape
In 2018, many B2B companies will try new platforms and revisit old favourites, due to recent updates and new offerings. For instance, last year, LinkedIn made significant improvements to its user interface, including revamped newsfeed and enhanced analytics. In addition to this, LinkedIn also made updates to its ad services including Sponsored InMail and lead generation options. Marketers will continue to utilise the platform due to these enhancements and it will remain a firm favourite amongst B2B companies. Instagram will also continue to increase in popularity. Although not as prevalent as in the B2C industry, Instagram will slowly become more valuable than Facebook to B2B businesses, as marketers make use of the platforms’ expanding 800 million international account base.
On the other hand, Twitter may see a slow decline in 2018, as the platform has struggled to grow its users. As the social networking device has chosen to focus on user acquisition rather than its advertising offering, this has resulted in the latter part of the business seeing a 26% decline over the past year.
We wouldn’t be able to put together 2018 trends without mentioning privacy protection. Over the last year, there has been a number of high-profile data breaches which have dominated the media, from the exposure of 57 million Uber users and drivers’ personal information, to the hack on the NHS. Due to this uncertainty, consumers will increasingly favour products, services and businesses that protect their privacy. In addition, the impending GDPR regulation passed by the European Union will have a significant impact on what businesses must do to protect their customers’ data.
It looks like another exciting year in B2B and we can’t wait to get started!
For more information on how BDB can help with your 2018 marketing strategy, contact us on +44 (0)161 925 4700 or email [email protected].