The Rapid Evolution Of B2B Marketing And What Holds For The Future
We are witnessing a sea-change in the way B2B marketers acquire new customers. According to a study conducted by marketing research tools provider Demand Metric, more than 63% of B2B marketers plan on video marketing in the coming year. Another study organized by the Content Marketing Institute in association with MarketingProfs found something even more interesting – 93% of B2B marketers today use content marketing for lead generation; up from 9% the previous year.
Inbound marketing techniques – which includes the use of blogs, videos, ebooks, newsletters, whitepapers, infographics, SEO and social media – has mostly been a B2C phenomenon. Except for whitepapers, most of the other inbound marketing techniques have mostly been ignored by the B2B marketing community. It is not hard to see why – even today, most of the B2B clientele is acquired through traditional means : trade shows and direct sales.
So what triggered this change? For a long time, B2B enterprises were content merely with putting up a website. There really did not exist a strategy to acquire customers online, besides the occasional Google ads. However, over time two things have helped in transforming the B2B marketing space.
First is the growing trend among prospects to check for customer reviews before making a deal. Unlike earlier times, a BBB report is alone insufficient to check the credibility of a business. Customers today check for reviews from other customers before making a purchasing decision. This is of course an extension of their practice while dealing with B2C companies.
As this trend grew, B2B companies have realized the importance of maintaining a reputation online. What started as an attempt to try and maximize visibility on search engines with favorable results, has now grown into a need to be present across all media properties that the prospect visits. This is only possible through content marketing which offers a terrific opportunity in achieving virality and word of mouth publicity.
Another reason that has helped expedite the adoption of content marketing is a rise in the number of businesses that offer online services to other businesses. This includes the likes of companies like CrazyEgg, which offers visitor tracking software, ERPGuru, a SaaS consulting company, etc. These are B2B companies offering purely online services. As a result, in an effort to market their products, these companies have adopted marketing strategies that were hitherto popular only among B2C enterprises. For instance, CrazyEgg founder owns one of the most popular content marketing blogs called QuickSprout while ERPGuru has managed to create interest among its target audience through their ExpertIP blog and video marketing channels.
As these companies saw success through their inbound marketing efforts, it has helped in these strategies becoming mainstream among B2B marketers. The CMI study estimates that B2B companies shall be increasing their budget on content marketing by over 58% in the next 12 months. With content marketing taking up nearly 30% of all B2B marketing budget, this shall be a significant rise that has the potential to completely overhaul the B2B marketing space over the next two years.
How do you think B2B marketing will change over the next few years? Tell us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.