What's hot for B2B marketing in 2017?

Marketing is arguably one of the fastest changing industries to be a part of. This is one of the reasons we all love, and (sometimes) hate it.

In 2016 we saw an increase in the quality and quantity of video content created by B2B brands and we can expect that to continue into 2017. I’ve outlined four other areas that marketers should focus on in 2017 to move our industry forward.

More marketers will adopt account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) might still be a controversial topic in some circles, but there is no question that marketers are seeing huge benefits from this approach.

In a recent survey by Alterra Group, ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities, according to 97% of marketers. Hardly surprising when you consider that the theory behind ABM is targeting valuable accounts with large growth opportunities rather than pumping budget and resource into pursuing a pool of unknown leads.

I’m certain we’ll continue to see ABM explored and trialled by more departments and agencies in 2017.

Influencer marketing will mature

Following on from the hyper growth in social channels, many think that 2016 was the start of modern marketers really starting to understand how to leverage social media platforms in a more compelling way through the introduction of influencer marketing.

A recent survey from eMarketer found that 84% of marketers, who are not currently focused on influencer relations, are expected to take on influencer marketing in the next 12 months. 2017 is set to be the year influencer marketing goes mainstream in a way that has not been explored previously. It seems that the biggest problem marketers face is understanding and identifying which influencers to work with; finding a large quantity of influencers to work with is easy, finding the quality ones is hard.

At Workfront, we are working with a range of marketing influencers to help us communicate the benefits of working smarter. These influencers are experts in their respective fields and work with us to articulate our message in a way that appeals to potential customers. We also find that we learn a lot from our influencers and their communities, which can help to shape the future functionality of our platform. It’s important to remember that the relationship needs to work both ways and influencers should be seen as real people and not just a channel to get more customers.

Streaming will go mainstream

Video has become a key marketing channel over the past few years. For organisations looking to engage with millennials it has become the must-have tactic with Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram stories growing at a phenomenal rate. Additionally, video streaming has taken this to the next level with Facebook Live and Periscope allowing this to become mainstream. On the other end of the spectrum, a Hubspot study showed that 50%  of executives say ‘they actively look for more information after seeing a product or service in a video’. With this in mind, Marketers should plan for sales teams to actively look for more video assets to share.

In 2017 we will see video continue to grow and streaming move to the forefront. With 96% of B2B companies planning to use video in their content marketing over the next year, the opportunity to create innovative new video campaigns that really stand out from the crowd cannot be denied.

My favourite video campaign this year was a video series created by Intel, called ‘If cables were people’. The laugh-out-loud videos got across its key messages through relatable and entertaining content, moving away from the assumption that B2B marketing needs to be boring.  You can expect to see more of this in the next year.

Intel - If Cables Were People "Tantrum"

Data will reign supreme

Results, backed up with data, will become more prominent than ever. Simply feeling that something is working, or anecdotally hearing that it was a great event, or an awesome campaign, just won’t cut it anymore.

Marketers will need to be more data driven than ever before, but, they must ensure they use the right data. As it stands, we can measure tweets, downloads, clicks on a website (and so much more) but what is the best data for us to ensure we create the best results? 2017 will be the year marketers will aggressively explore these data sources to discover what works and what doesn’t for their sales cycles as well as validating return on their marketing investments. Time to get smart and get analytical.

Marketers will adopt new ways of working

In 2016 we started to see major changes being implemented across the globe to improve ways of working in marketing teams. We even saw Sweden introduce a six-hour day… now there’s an idea.

2017 will see more marketing and creative teams adopting an agile approach, which is still rather nascent in the UK. Although 40% of marketers currently use a mixed method for working (which includes agile methodologies) there is still a slight resistance to adopting it fully. In 2017, we predict this will change as teams strive to work faster and smarter while still producing work of exceptional quality.     

Overall, I believe 2017 will be the year we move away from many of our long-held suppositions as we embrace more data-driven results and reporting. It’s an exciting time to be working in marketing during such an incredibly dynamic time in the industry.