To answer the question of what B2B marketers will be doing differently in 2016, we need only to look at the way the marketing landscape is changing, and the influential trends that are driving the change.
Quality over Quantity
Though it is pretty darn important to post on a regular basis, the quality of the content you share has much more value than the frequency of your posts. As an analogy, you could do a hundred reps of an exercise with horrible form, or do three sets of perfectly performed moves that will get you the same, if not better results. By identifying the needs of your target audience and delivering better, more relevant and carefully targeted information, you are building authority. Content that is easy to find and mobile-friendly will lead the charge. Producing content that is relatable to your audience, rather than for search engines, will deliver the long-term results you are after.
Marketing Technology Training
With the vast array of software tools to help with all aspects of their roles, B2B marketers have access to technology that will essentially automate much of their work. From content management and data management platforms to social media, email marketing, project management, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales, analytics, content development and online advertising, the sheer number of tools available is mind-boggling. In this sense, the solution is actually part of the problem. Without proper training on how to best use these tools, it’s easy to say goodbye to a big pile of cash without reaping any discernible benefit. Statistically, companies invest a great deal in these technologies, but remarkably little into training. As most B2B marketers are self-taught, the ones who put the time into learning which tools will benefit them the most will likely reap the most benefit. For companies who don’t want to waste their investment in marketing technology, implementing a proper training program will help preserve their assets.
As the field becomes more competitive, so does the need to provide accurate measurement of results. There is always pressure to demonstrate ROI, especially in larger companies. Even though ROI is a powerful metric, it isn’t always the most valuable one. For instance, there is no measurable ROI on a widely shared ‘how to’ post that doesn’t tie into the sale of a product. Same goes for a popular Facebook post or a viral tweet: likes, comments, views and retweets may not directly relate to the sale of a product, but they don’t lack value, either. They do however, have a direct relationship to customer retention and brand awareness, and it’s unlikely that you should cease these activities just because they don’t produce sales. To be able to answer the question of what to measure, there needs to be a clearly defined expectation of objectives for each activity. For instance, if you are able to determine that six points of contact is the magic number that leads to a sale, you then have a measurable gauge by which you can track your progress.
A Focused Approach
In conclusion, 2016 promises to mark a distinct turn in the B2B marketing pipeline. Better targeting and retargeting, opting for better fit over wider reach, and realizing that your audience can only ingest so much will hopefully drive the trend towards better, more effective and more relevant efforts all around. Lastly, as if economics weren’t always an issue, making the most of marketing technology investments through training will produce measurable results over the long term, which is likely the most accurate predictor of ROI.