Where is B2B marketing headed in 2020? 7 predictions

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Forecasting the future is a dangerous but irresistible
practice for observers like myself.  So
let me plunge ahead with 7 bets on likely new developments in the world of B2B
marketing.  Just don’t look at my
predictions from last
year
to check my record for accuracy, please.  “My crystal ball is on back order,” as B2B
database expert Bernice Grossman is fond of
saying.  This year, my predictions range
from retention to robots.  I welcome your
feedback! 



  1. A move from the “funnel” to the
    “relationship.”
      B2B marketers are
    expanding their roles from just cranking out lead generation campaigns to
    stepping in as managers of the prospect and customer relationship, in
    partnership with their sales counterparts. 
    As business buying becomes more complex, with larger buying groups and
    longer buy cycles, marketers will continue to embrace the contributions they
    can make in market coverage, sales enablement and ABM.
  2. Voice search takes hold in B2B buying, for
    real.
      Business buyers are already
    using
    their Siri, Alexa, Hey Google and Cortana devices to identify
    potential vendors.  And CPQ
    technology
    that enables configure/price/quote  on more complex products is coming up quickly.  So, the table is set.  We marketers need to get
    ready
    by adding structured data, beefing up our FAQs and mobile-enabling
    our websites to get the best advantage.
  3. Messaging apps go enterprise.   As messaging app usage soars, leading
    providers Facebook
    Messenger
    and WhatsApp offer
    business solutions.  The top application
    so far is customer service, to solve problems quickly. But marketers are
    dipping their toes into product introductions, company news, promotions and
    even purchasing with business customers. 
    Of course, the granddaddy of business messaging, LinkedIn, is still the
    place to test the waters with these new channels.
  4. Employee advocacy becomes mainstream.  Companies are realizing that they can
    harness their employees for customer acquisition, customer development, and HR
    recruitment.  Typical tactics: Encourage
    employees to share company posts on social media.  Ask employees to recommend your company and
    its products to their friends and colleagues. 
    Provide them with logo merchandises to use and wear.  Here
    are some tips for how to get started.
  5. Content creation by robots.  It’s here. 
    Still mostly in data-heavy fields like financial services.  But as artificial intelligence tools improve,
    certain auto-generated copy applications are bound to follow.  My guess is that some types of B2B social
    media posts are ripe for automation.  But
    while I’m on the subject let me refer you to Janneke Ritchie,
    who explains
    how robots will soon be taking on B2B tasks in areas like inside sales,
    customer service and marketing operations. 
    Yikes. 
  6. GDPR and CCPA will be clarified for B2B.  This is my fervent hope, anyway.  Most enterprises have taken significant steps
    toward GDPR compliance, and are now investigating what needs to be done in the
    face of January 1, 2020’s California Consumer Privacy Act.  But what we really need is some action by
    regulators that will help us understand how regulatory concerns really apply to
    B2B, versus consumer marketing.  And we
    also need action at the Federal level here in the US, to simplify the current
    mishmash of state-level privacy legislation that is in the works. 
  7. B2B marketers embrace current-customer
    marketing.
      Another fervent hope, but
    one that seems to be trending in the right direction.  The new push is coming from the world of
    SaaS, where marketers realize that real profitability comes from attention to
    renewals, and defection prevention—the meat and potatoes of subscription
    marketing.  For years, we’ve seen lead
    generation named as the top goal of B2B marketers, and typically a mere 15% of
    marketing budgets being devoted to retention activities.  But when I hear software executives preaching
    about retention marketing, I think my hope may be justified.  Customer penetration and expansion is a key
    source of profitable growth.

Happy 2020 to us all. 



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