At the end of each year, my team and I publish a report on the major B2B marketing and sales trends. The idea is not to show how smart we are but rather to provide ideas you can start using immediately to grow your business. Feel free to download the full report.
Trend 1 – Importance of Digital Reputation. B2B prospects spend lots of time searching online before engaging with a potential vendor and if the experience isn’t right, they will leave quickly. On the internal website side, you should have a website that is clean, professional and easily navigable. Externally, you need to find every site that a potential purchaser could use to learn about you or your business category, and make sure your presence there leaves a good impression. Content should be fresh and relevant and tightly related to your core value proposition.
Trend 2 – Lead-to-Revenue Drives Marketing and Sales Alignment. While there are several flavors of L2R, our best practice model consists of five strategic steps that are designed to create a framework for B2B business growth:
- Define your business strategy
- Develop the processes that will facilitate your strategic goals
- Implement the technology infrastructure to optimize your processes
- Execute on the processes defined in Step 2
- Monitor, refine and improve results
The five-step L2R framework is supported by eight essential components that align your marketing and sales model, eliminate wasted motion and drive revenue and profits sooner by focusing you on the core structural and strategic activities needed to succeed. You can download our eBook on L2R here.
Trend 3 – Rise of Marketing Technology. According to a 2015 survey by Forrester Research and AdRoll, while 80 percent of B2B marketers consider marketing technology comprehension and use it as a core requirement of their job, just 17 percent of respondents self-identify as leading in marketing technology maturity. Generally, you will need three major systems to have a great end-to-end B2B marketing and sales solution: website, customer resource management (CRM) and marketing automation (MA).
However, unless you get the processes right, even the best technology will just help you fail faster and more expensively. You need to start with whatever processes are necessary to meet the objectives – and only then make sure you have the appropriate technology and people to run the lead-to-revenue (L2R) machine.
Trend 4 – Customer Experience Goes Mainstream. Customer Experience (CX) is definitely a trending topic for 2016. Prospects will do everything they can to find out about you before reaching out and engaging with your sales team. If their online research reveals red flags about the quality, usability or support of your products and services, they will move to the next company on their list. Good B2B marketing and sales is not just about how you communicate to the prospect, but also how easy you make it for prospects to find you and conduct business. Anything you can do to remove potential barriers to purchase (e.g. poor CX reputation) will have a positive impact on revenue.
Trend 5 – Video Everywhere. You have probably noticed more video ads popping up (invading) during your online experience. Major players are placing huge focus in this area. While YouTube remains the dominant player in the video ad market, Facebook has launched a number of video features to challenge YouTube. Eight billion video views occur on the Facebook platform daily from more than 500 million people. Twitter is also seeking to take advantage of the growing video market with the launch of its video autoplay feature. These videos play automatically on a user’s timeline, but are muted as the user scrolls down the timeline. And Google, not to be outdone, is promoting its video ads inside search engine results pages (SERP).
Trend 6 – Growth of Predictive Analytics. Predictive intelligence/analytics has been a hot topic because of the number of new startups in the industry and increasing user adoption. This type of technology can benefit B2B companies in a number of ways:
- Predict the likelihood of specific prospects/customers to behave in specific ways
- Provide recommendations to target specific market segments
- Combine external and internal data to fill informational gaps
- Identify issues, discover new opportunities and measure KPIs
Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2016.