It is no secret that B2B marketing has changed dramatically since the world moved online, and the changes are still happening at an extremely brisk pace. One area that has been evolving quickly is the field of content marketing. Once considered a radical and disruptive idea, content marketing has moved into the mainstream in a relatively short time. However, what is considered a viable strategy for content marketing is not the same as it was just a few years ago. Content marketing trends have continued to change in response to customer expectations, new technologies and an overall shift in focus from delivering advertising messages to nurturing relationships. Here are the top five trends that have had the greatest influence on B2B content marketing budgets for 2017.
- Videos are receiving more priority, including live stream videos. 96% of B2B organizations use video in some capacity in their marketing campaigns of which 73% report positive results to their ROI. Companies need to have an online presence that offers 24/7 accessibility, and most people prefer watching a video to reading a wall of text. 2017 will definitely see a surge in the video marketing and this is right time to tap it. From webinars to product demonstrations, B2B marketers are making videos accessible through company YouTube channels, on their websites, in their social media posts or through links contained in email campaigns.
- Content marketing will increasingly be combined with account-based marketing. Account-based content marketing can be used to acquire new customers or nurture existing customers.
- Account-based marketing allows you to target the "collective mind" that makes decisions within the organization. For example, you may know the name and email of a company's purchasing agent, so you can deliver content to this individual. However, there are likely other people who have the final decision over suppliers and vendors. Since every business has at least one dedicated IP address, you can use this information to identify the collective and deliver your content to the right people.
- Account-based marketing involves new technology. It has some similarities to the types of marketing automation that rely on cookies, but account-based marketing relies on IP addresses.
- It allows you to purchase a single highly personalized ad at minimal cost and deliver it to a specific account in real time. For example, suppose you want to sell your products to the branch office of a major corporation. You could use account-based marketing to deliver the ad only to employees of that office, ensuring that the message is received only by the right people at the right time.
- Marketers will become more aware of the 80/20 rule. To many B2B marketers, this means that 80 percent of your sales are derived from 20 percent of your customers. However, it also means that 80 percent of your content marketing success is derived from 20 percent of the content you publish. B2B marketers will become more adept at measuring ROI to identify what content is contributing to the most valuable 20 percent so that they can amplify success by budgeting the proper amounts.
- This does not mean that you should eliminate 80 percent of your content. Some content may be extremely valuable when a company is first evaluating a new supplier, for example, or when users need to troubleshoot a product purchased from you. If you are relatively new, you can use content to build your brand. Therefore, although you may need content for a variety of purposes, it makes more sense to allocate more of your budget to content that will deliver the greatest ROI.
- Marketers are embracing informed customers. Content marketing is already used by approximately 88 percent of all B2B marketers. Your customers are acutely aware that they can find a wealth of information online that can help them decide on suppliers as well as individual products. Savvy B2B marketers are producing white papers, slideshows, webinars and how-to content to educate and inform their customers. They map the customer's purchase journey and seed their content at the appropriate position. They are using native advertising to place their content so that it is not disruptive and circumvents the use of ad blockers.
B2B marketers are placing more emphasis on touchpoint consistency. CPG marketers have long recognized the importance of consistency in building brand recall. For example, Coca-Cola uses the same color scheme and fonts on everything from its website to its packaging. However, B2B marketers are just beginning to understand the importance of touchpoint consistency.
- Each touchpoint is both a buying stream and a branding opportunity. From sales literature to the company website, the brand messages should convey the same vision and philosophy.
- Mobile should be included in the touchpoints to be made consistent. Many B2B marketers consider mobile to be of secondary importance, forgetting that business customers are people who enjoy using their smartphones as much as anyone else. Websites should be optimized for mobile to ensure consistency.
- Social content marketing can be particularly challenging for B2B marketers. Whether posting an informative article on LinkedIn or a video on your Facebook page, the overall feel and message should be consistent with all other touchpoints.
B2B content marketing is going to continue to increase over the next few years. According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B companies are devoting an average of 29 percent of their marketing budgets to content marketing. Paying attention to current trends can help you achieve the best ROI possible by incorporating the strategies that are suitable for your specific efforts.