5 top B2B Marketing trends for 2013
It is that time of year again where marketers look to the year ahead, so here are Cyance's predictions and views on the key B2B Marketing trends for 2013. In brief, social is still a key player, big/little data will effect even the smallest organisations and as always proving your return on marketing investments (ROMI) will help protect your budget. Remember communication is key with your sales department and finally, personalise your marketing with nurturing efforts.
Putting Social Media in its place
Social media saw a big turning point in 2012; Facebook not only went public on May 18th but also reached a massive 1 billion users on October 4th. Facebook also bought the popular app Instagram in September for $730million. Twitter doubled their monthly active users from 2011 to 2012, surpassing 200 million. LinkedIn is the preferred B2B Social Media platform with just under 200 million members and more than 2.6 million company pages. Throughout 2012 LinkedIn re-designed their homepage to enhance unique sharing depending on the interests of that user, and also re-designed their mobile app and launched an iPad app.
Many B2B companies still believe Social Media as a whole isn’t applicable for their business, however when looking at a snapshot of the b2b market, 70% are engaged socially. According to Technorati “Companies cited three top reasons for using social media: creating brand awareness (83%), encouraging social sharing (56%) and gaining trust and followers (55%)”. The latter is the most significant; gaining trust from prospects is becoming a crucial aspect of marketing, and perhaps this is where the holy grail of measuring value from social media comes? It’s so far proven very difficult to directly attribute sales, even leads, to just social media for most in B2B, so expect 2013 to be the year where the use of social media starts to mirror the B2C world more – noise, brand awareness and recognition. This utilises the enormous value of social media, but also allows a marketer to recognise the limitations; it is not the answer to all of your challenges, it simply plays part. Often that part is high up in the funnel where it helps to magnify or amplify your brand and message.
Big little Data
According to Gartner, Big Data is “information of extreme size, diversity and complexity”. Marketers are beginning to realise that traditional data acquisition is no longer enough. Although Big Data has been associated with the ‘big boys’ in business, 2013 will be the turning point in offering solutions to provide big data for day-to-day marketing campaigns. Big Data has the ability to improve efficiency, reduce costs and better manage your customer relationships. Or so they say.
But perhaps 2013 should be about focussing on the little things first. Far too many B2B organisations are still failing to do the basics right – according to the IAB’s report Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data, 36% (of marketers) report that they have “lots of customer data,” but “don’t know what to do with it”. Simple personalisation or segmentation will be the growth area in the year ahead. Getting one’s own house in order with the existing data (be that offline, on or social) before exploding out into even more under-utilised data.
Measurability is a key factor when proving the ROI of your marketing efforts. Always has been, always well be. The internet is now able to provide valuable insights in ‘real time’, which means it is easy and user friendly for any size of organisation to access data reporting and see how their campaign is performing. Real-time analytics allow you to understand where prospects are engaging with your company; which blog posts, Tweets, Facebook posts get the most response. This is of incredible valuable to any business as it will allow you to understand and target your consumers better, giving you an improved ROI in the longer term. Losing sight of measurement is a sin that marketers can’t afford to risk ever again – in austere times the marketing budget is often the first under scrutiny and clear measurement coupled with strong results are the only way to fend that risk off.
Acquiesce to sales
One topic that is often discussed throughout our Think Tank series is the continued lack of collaboration between sales and marketing throughout the channel. With increasingly tight budgets, every marketing effort needs to have visible results and provide value to the sales department. This requires a cultural shift towards going beyond collaboration and means providing tangible sales-ready leads, appointments or insight to help sales people sell. Some large corporations have created a new role to support this. The ‘Chief Revenue Officer’ manages the communication between sales and marketing and checking both departments have the same objectives and are continually focussed on driving revenue and results to help the business prosper and grow.
The view that marketing lives to serve sales is one that is increasingly being (rightly) adopted in B2B – questioning and refining all marketing effort to ultimately help drives sales is a must and one that 2013 will bring more and more of.
Lead generation is now no longer enough. Typically the lead-time for a B2B customer can be months, even years. Prospects who you try and convert to leads don’t behave in a linear fashion either. Two seemingly identical leads could take completely different paths to get to the point of qualified lead – be that time taken, content and messaging needed or both.
Nurturing not only allows you to treat prospects as individuals, it allows you to harness marketing support throughout the sales cycle. A much underused area for nurture is post-sales conversation. A sales-ready lead will be handed off to sales, but still not be ready to buy (budget timings typically the main reason) so taking that lead back to be nurtured – to keep in touch, frees the sales resource up, keeps your brand front-of-mind with that prospect and plays marketing to its real strength; to effectively and positively reinforce your brand. With automation techniques available to business, lead nurturing has the ability to provide a personalised marketing throughout the prospects buying journey in a way that suits each and every one of them.