The B2B sector has always been seen as the mature yet boring brother of B2C. While B2B differs significantly in terms of complexity, it’s nevertheless as much about people as B2C is. Your target audience might have a little less time on their hands, hence reaching them proves to be tricky to say the least. But it doesn’t make them immune to innovative and engaging marketing. Research and purchase behaviour is shifting, making it crucial for B2B companies to adjust their strategies and showcase greater agility. Below we’ll take a look at the current state of B2B marketing and the key drivers influencing decision makers today and this knowledge will serve as a guide to some trends we can already predict for the future.
Be it B2B or B2C, one things is for sure – customers are not looking for pushy sales materials. With so much data coming from left, right and center, interesting content at the right place and the right time is key for engaging your target. Today, purchase decisions are often made based on personal value. B2B companies are increasingly borrowing techniques from B2C, because in its nature, capturing the attention of decision makers works similarly across both sectors. And how do you capture that attention? With great content of course. Buyers are consuming more content before purchase than ever before. 75% of B2B buyers rely more heavily on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago (Demand Gen).
Digital has completely transformed the landscape, opening up new opportunities for B2B companies to reach their customers. It has also served as a great opportunity to transform dry and technical information into something a bit more exciting thanks to new rising formats like videos and online games. Moreover, extensive research is a crucial part of the buying process and unsurprisingly, most of it takes place online and when it comes to devices, mobile is quickly gaining momentum. According to a study made by Google & BCG, mobile drives or influences an average of 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations. 50% of research queries are made on smartphones (the figure is expected to grow to 70% by 2020). Where there’s mobile, there’s social media, which means you have to be present in feeds. 83% of B2B marketers are using social media and 50% claim it has improved their marketing optimization, customer experience and brand health. 25% also see an increase in revenue. If we talk about YouTube, 59% are using the platform to distribute content. For LinkedIn it’s a whopping 89%.
Clearly, content is king, the future is digital and B2B is
adopting a more humane approach. The latter is well vocalized by GE CMO Linda
Boff: “We don’t believe in B2B or B2C. We believe in B2H: we market to humans.”
B2B marketing budgets will be formed accordingly, with bigger cash flows going
to mobile, email, social and websites. Many companies will turn inwards to
recruit employees as social influencers, who are regarded as more trustworthy
and showcase a higher social reach.
With millennials and Gen Z-ers influencing the landscape, social media will grow to 24% of marketing budgets within 5 years. As a format, video will be dominating. Traditional display ads will lose effectiveness and will be replaced by smarter data-based techniques, allowing for detailed targeting driven by comprehensive understanding of the target’s interests. Combining all these elements means marketers should think more about B2C-esque content marketing, with greater focus on digital formats and smart targeting.