The pace of change in the B2B digital marketing world is faster than ever before. As a digital marketer, you want to not only keep abreast of the latest trends, but you also want to be ahead of what is to come. Staying ahead of the curve will give you the competitive edge that will often translate into greater revenue and higher efficiency in your workflows. If you want to ride the fore-horse and grow your business in 2019, here are some predictions that should guide you.
1. ABM will continue to grow in the Martech stack
In 2017, research conducted by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) confirmed that 87% of B2B marketers agree ABM delivers a higher ROI. Furthermore, Marketing Profs have found that businesses that practice ABM generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts.
2018 research conducted by ABM Leadership Alliance and Demandbase reveals 31% of marketers have had an ABM program in place for about two years. The same study also found that ABM campaigns are becoming more sophisticated. For instance, the ABM campaigns that target accounts across multiple tiers have risen from 35% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
Companies that are ahead of the curve already know that an account-based approach works. In 2019 companies will shift their focus to understanding how deeper integrated collaborations in ABM, between business leaders, sales and marketing teams, can drive even more benefit to digital marketing.
2. Martech will integrate to provide holistic customer data
Today, the Martech stack for sophisticated B2B marketers is comprised of three main legs, marketing automation, CRM and now, ABM platforms. The marketing automation and CRM systems focus on both individual and known contacts. ABM platforms bring even more integration by providing information about both, known and unknown, individuals and accounts, in sales and marketing activities.
As such, customer information will no longer be siloed into fragmented Martech technologies as has been the case this far. Instead, 2019 will bring tighter integration of the Martech stack (marketing automation, CRM and ABM platforms) so that B2B marketers will increasingly have the tools to share data across these platforms to get a 360-degree view of customers.
3. Artificial Intelligence will bring more sophistication to digital marketing
Marketers have always desired to better understand their customers because this understanding is what allows them to sell precisely what each individual needs. With ever-increasing amounts of data to be synthesized about each buyer, understanding the buyer’s needs can be quite a daunting task. Until you use AI.
In 2019, through faster and increasingly in-depth analysis of complex data, AI will continue to become an integral part of devices and software that helps B2B marketers better understand buyer behavior and provide improved services. For example, AI will allow B2B marketers to automate personalized marketing messages which will not only make the marketer’s life a lot easier but also enable more customers to be served satisfactorily at any one time.
A recent survey of top marketing influencers revealed that 97% of them believe that the future of marketing will be human marketers and AI (machine learning-based automated solutions) working together.
4. Persona-based marketing is changing fast into a personality-based approach
Most B2B marketers still use personas to target the right audience of influencers and/or buyers. Persona-based marketing allows marketers to reach large audiences of people who will be attracted to a specific message based on the assumed needs of ‘individual types’ (persona).
Since AI and account-based marketing brings a more nuanced understanding of the intent of individuals, teams, groups or committee’s in a crowd, marketing can easily be scaled while remaining very precise.
As such, B2B marketing in 2019 will slowly start to transition away from persona-based advertising and more towards an increasingly nuanced and personalized approach to marketing while still scaling to greater audiences. Essentially, AI and ABM will reinvent the buyer persona as we know it, to become a tool that can provide real-time, highly accurate, multi-channel engagement with audiences or B2B prospects.
5. Greater focus on content distribution strategies
All good marketers know that high-quality content is king. Better marketers additionally know that distributing the content through the right channels and to the intended recipients is just as important.
A nuanced and more in-depth understanding of targeted markets including efficient and effective messaging and engagement with these target markets is a growing trend in the B2B digital marketing world. Although the general audience, high-quality content will continue to be important, specialized content for experts and specific industries will continue to become a trend in 2019. Understanding how to create a robust B2B content distribution strategy in 2019 will be a must.
6. Increased use of video content
According to Insivia, the same amount of content that was produced by major U.S. networks in 30 years is now being created and uploaded in 30 days. The video is everywhere. In fact, 70% of B2B buyers watch a video during their buying process.
Although larger companies produce more videos than smaller companies on average, there isn’t a direct correlation between the number of videos produced and the size of a company. In fact, in some cases, smaller companies outperform larger companies in the number of videos that they create. Cost of video production is quite low today which means small companies have just as much opportunity to use this medium. Additionally, smaller companies have less red-tape which means that they produce videos faster.
In 2019, small companies will continue to produce more videos to catch up with larger companies while larger companies will need to re-think their video strategies since they have a lot more resources to create better content. All in all, the investment in video and the number of videos produced in 2019 is set to increase.
7. Chatbot success stories will continue to increase
In 2017 chatbots were a major hype of the digital marketing industry. In fact, Google served up more than 250,000 results for ‘chatbots in B2B’ by early 2017. Predictably, not everyone was convinced. Advocates and opponents had their fair share of opinions. As is the case with newly introduced technology and the hype surrounding it, early expectations usually fall short.
However, it’s not because the technology falls short or is lacking but rather because attempts to understand and implement the technology are misguided and/or half-hearted.
There have been several success stories in the use of chatbots in B2B since 2017, and the success stories will continue to increase into 2019. A study conducted by Oracle indicates that 80% of businesses are already using chatbots or are planning to use chatbots by 2020.
Nobody really knows what’s next in the B2B Digital Marketing in 2019. However, our predictions are informed by a combination of documented trends, data, experience, and yes, a gut instinct as well. The critical thing for B2B marketers is to think about which strategies they wish to adopt in 2019 and more importantly which strategies will give them leverage and a competitive advantage over their rivals. The predictions mentioned here should positively shape aspects of your digital marketing strategy for 2019.