6 trends that will rule B2B marketing in 2016

Matt Janaway, CEO of Outreachly UK shares his thoughts on B2B marketing trends for 2016

B2B marketing, just like any other field of marketing, is constantly evolving. Each year, the trends and best practices change and you need to work hard to keep up. There are some prominent trends in B2B marketing for 2016. We can already see them as we pass the first quarter. There are several key areas you should be concentrating on throughout the rest of the year. Changes in the market mean that some things are falling out of fashion. Others are growing and taking hold while previous trends remain stable too. Check out the trends below to find out what will reign supreme over the B2B marketing industry in 2016.

1. Influence of consumer experiences

Customer experience has so far been more of a prominent trend in the B2C market. However, this year it is also coming to the fore in B2B marketing. The aim of customer experience is to deliver consistently excellent personalized experiences. In other words, businesses shouldn't be using a blanket approach to selling to all their clients. They should be making use of a range of resources to approach each client as an individual. Buyers in the B2B market have begun to expect the same standards when purchasing as a business as they do from being a consumer. The sales channel used and other factors shouldn't affect the quality of the customer experience. It should all be consistent and in line with your brand. Most leading industry experts agree that B2B websites are catching up B2C websites when it comes to user experience and developing emotional strategies. Take advantage of this trend and benefit from increased conversion rates.

2. Use of marketing apps

Apps are used for pretty much anything you can think of these days. People take their phones and tablets wherever they go, and apps make working on the move much easier. As well as mobile apps, website-based apps can be useful to people at their desks. Marketing apps have seen an increase in popularity in the year so far. On websites, apps help to make a site more interactive. They engage the user with tools such as calculators and estimators. Mobile apps often work best for companies who produce high volumes of useful content. Instead of sending people new material via email or other methods, it can be more direct with an app. If your business doesn't already have one, it's something you should consider.

3. Email marketing relevance

Email marketing hasn't gone away in 2016. It is still here to stay, and its use has been growing and expanding. However, the use of email is changing, partly because of the devices people now use. Mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets, have become the most popular medium for opening emails. The majority of emails in the US during early 2015 were opened on a mobile device. These mostly consisted of smartphones. In 2016, it's important to take mobile devices into account when constructing emails. It's also essential to think about how you are using emails, don't leave your marketing for newsletters alone. The are emails you have to send that you can use as incidental marketing. For example, order and delivery confirmation emails will be opened the majority of the time so take advantage of the open rates.

4. Advocate marketing

Advocate marketing software helps businesses harness the power of word of mouth and referrals. Your clients, as long as they are happy, are some of your best promoters. Forming healthy relationships with them increases the likelihood of them recommending you. Specialized software helps you turn them into advocates using a range of methods. These can include engaging with clients on social media, encouraging reviews, and capturing referrals. First, you need to choose the right software platform. The next step is to identify your best clients. Focusing on these valuable customers will ensure you concentrate on the most critical areas.

5. Changes to online advertising

B2B businesses are having to think about their online advertising in 2016. There's still plenty of advertising online, but the way people react to it is changing. The use of ad-blockers has risen, which is bad news for advertisers. As a consequence, B2B companies are having to reconsider how they approach online advertising. One of the solutions that many advertisers are beginning to consider is native advertising. This method matches ads to the form and function of a website, so it isn't too obtrusive. It might be in the shape of an article or a video, for example. In fact, video advertising is on the rise, and many marketers sing its praises.

6. Blogging helps build authority

Blogging might seem like a tactic from 2010 but it has some serious advantages. Not only is is excellent for driving long-tail search traffic to your website but it helps provide elements of trust and authority to website visitors. Matt Banner, CEO of On Blast Blog suggests that "Almost every B2B website that blogs in the correct way sees a positive impact on conversion rates". I certainly agree with his sentiment and all the data I look at suggests this is the case.

These trends are all having an impact on B2B marketing in 2016, and will continue to throughout the year. Keep watch to see how they develop and get on board too.