As this year folds into next, the internet is awash with ‘hot trends’ lists and predictions for the upcoming twelve months. While B2B as a sector does not encourage speculative sensationalism, there’s no doubt the industry has an exciting 2018 in store.
With this in mind, here are three trends that could shape B2B marketing in the new year and improve your offering going forward.
1. Artificial intelligence will make content more human
AI left the B2C arena agog this year, and while the B2B potential isn’t as ‘shiny’, it’s still set to change the game nonetheless.
In a digital world filled with rafts of content and information, the fight to engage a B2B audience has never been more crucial. As the art of the email newsletter becomes more subtle, with some taking on the guise of short-form magazines rather than bulletins, the chance for AI to muscle in becomes apparent. Rule-based machine learning is where we are at the moment, and while this isn’t yet advanced or streamlined enough to do what we all want it to, a lot can still be achieved. It can make your content – and the distribution of said content – more relatable to the specific reader.
Hyper-personalisation can mean the difference between someone actually reading your email or deleting it – this could also shape the direction of remarketing going forward, giving repeated ads a fresh zest rather than teetering upon the fringes of annoyance and invoking the dreaded ad-blocker.
Content and advertising are just as important in B2B as in B2C, and by using data to achieve this sense of intimacy and personalisation, AI can remove any clunkiness and spamming from content distribution and strive for genuine
2. The pen of the professional will prove mightier than the sword of salacious gossip
The ‘fake news’ phenomenon continued to blight 2017. Bloggers, those in power, and some absolute chancers distorted the truth to their own agendas on a worldwide scale. Perhaps somewhat perversely, this hands greater power to marketers in the B2B space, giving brands an unusual opportunity to be the voice of reason in these strange times. People looking for certainty can find it in B2B.
After all, the B2B space is built on a solid foundation of facts: whitepapers are peer-assessed and ratified, and everything is supported by cold, hard data. As such, our work is given credence – arguably even more so than usual.
Use this undiluted truth to inform your marketing content and tactics; be bold with your creative decisions, and reinforce your imagination with the reputation B2B holds in a world otherwise filled with skewed facts. Set a high standard both internally and client-side. Self-regulate and strive for transparency through academic practices – given the year we’ve had, you won’t be alone in adopting this approach.​
3. The silos will unlock not just data, but everything
It’s become apparent over the past few years that data can’t be siloed – it’s damaging, it slows down business practices and it makes us look ineffective in our clients’ eyes. The call to de-silo data is loud, it is heard, and it’s set to rattle 2018. And with that, the need to connect everything will become ever clearer.
To effectively communicate across your business and to your clients, there needs to be full transparency. Complete honesty. Allowing data to circulate through your business will lead to a more collaborative workflow internally, improving your services across the board. And don’t just stop at data – be open with your clients on all fronts.
There are so many areas where transparency can make a difference. Media buying is a prime example – if clients get the full breakdown and are privy to everything, it allows them to properly align their spend with data and content.
And the result? Quicker, better, more strategically minded work. Maybe it will appear in a guise much different to ours, but the outcome remains the same: improve communication and you improve business output on both sides.
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