B2B agency heads reveal top trends for 2017
When compiling the B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report, we asked agency leaders what they thought the big trends in B2B marketing would be in 2017. They predict that four themes will dominate – personalisation, data, integration and creativity.
B2B environments are often defined by the 80:20 rule, where a disproportionately high proportion of spend is made by a relatively small number of customers. Agency leaders think that 2017 will see an increased focus on this principle, leading to a resurgence of Account Based Marketing (ABM) where each customer organisation is treated as a ‘market of one’. The remainder of the customer base won’t be forgotten though. They too will be targeted in a more focused, personalised fashion, but this will be executed using marketing automation (MA) systems.
MA underpins the second theme which agency leaders see dominating 2017 – data. Lots of things need to happen for MA to be effective, but without a comprehensive and accurate pool of customer data, its power is significantly reduced. As such, 2017 will see an increased focus on getting CRM databases shipshape. MA systems will also create a lot of new data which, especially when coupled with other data sources, is a valuable asset. Marketers will increasingly use data mining and predictive analytics to spot patterns in this data and adapt their marketing strategy accordingly.
Agency leaders also expect that 2017 will see a more integrated approach where marketing channels and activities are used in a more cohesive, mutually-supportive way. This integration will also extend to departmental siloes. The relationship between marketing and sales is not always easy, but working together seamlessly will become critical to success as a more personalised approach to marketing emerges. Furthermore, as marketers increasingly recognise the impact the post-sale customer experience can have on future marketing effectiveness (e.g. negative word-of-mouth), collaboration will increase with colleagues in other areas of the business who can impact the customer experience.
Finally, agency leaders anticipate that 2017 will see B2B become a bit more like B2C. There will be a stronger focus on building the brand, tapping into buyers’ emotions and taking a more creative approach to campaigns.
So that’s how agency leaders see it. What about you? Which themes do you think will define 2017?
For the full league table, including the financial details of all 75 agencies, download the full report now. It also contains exclusive industry research, setting out how the industry looks today, both in terms of economics and wider B2B sector trends.