Now that everyone in the blogosphere has had a chance to chime in on what the biggest B2B marketing trends and recommendations are for 2014, we thought we’d provide a tidy summation of those top ideas – a “best of the best,” as it were. As we’ve often discussed, the digital revolution has reshaped buyer behavior and expectations, requiring marketers to adjust strategies and tactics accordingly. The general consensus among CMOs and researchers is that 2014 is the year content marketing and digital optimization converge to create a fluid, consistent, and cohesive cross-channel experience. Here’s a compilation of this year’s collective wisdom.
2014 trends and recommendations:
1) Have a documented content marketing strategy. Joint research between CMI and MarketingProfs1 informs us that those who have an explicit content strategy are “far more likely to consider themselves effective (66% versus 11%).” A successful approach spans the full buying cycle in a deep and comprehensive manner, from lead generation to sales enablement, encompassing upwards of a dozen tactics (e.g. whitepapers, blog posts, case studies, webinars) and numerous online platforms.
2) Create content that engages. Think that’s easier said than done? You’re not alone. In fact, larger companies named this their top content-marketing challenge, over lack of time or budget1. Central to this challenge is simply competing for mindshare in a digital context which, while overwhelming with its sheer volume of information, caters to short attention spans. Forrester suggests2 that successfully engaging buyers depends on “delivering new commercial insights, inspiring customer stories, or forward-looking viewpoints.” Trending tactics for 2014 cater to buyers’ preferences for scanable content, including, most notably, visual storytelling in the form of infographics and short videos, either of the “explainer”/how-to/research results-style, or focused on customer stories as great proof points.
3) Develop a focus around personal benefits – reacting to prospects’ attitudes and needs as well as their business requirements. In this age of information overload, mass marketing messages are easier than ever to dismiss as irrelevant3. As noted above, in the increasingly noisy digital medium, to pique buyers’ curiosity such that they engage with you, pointed messaging which resonates personally, uniquely, and authentically with your target audience is vital to landing your value prop on their already-full radar. Based on CEB & Google’s compelling study4, marketers should aim to provide both rational and emotional differentiation, with messaging that addresses personal benefits as well as business values and outcomes.
4) People-based research makes a come-back5. Marketing automation can place an overwhelming amount of data at your disposal. In 2014, put a human face back on that data and gather the insights necessary to create the differentiated and personal messaging discussed above, by going to the source and surveying your target customers and prospects directly. While analytics provide a great big-picture snapshot, querying individuals will provide you essential insights with which to sharpen your ability to engage and convert.
5) Create a comprehensive, personalized customer experience Marketers in 2014 need to focus on delivering “much more personalized experiences that are customized to the individual based on preferences, previous buying history, or interactions6.” Buyers who perceive a personally relevant and unique value proposition will be far more willing to provide increasingly detailed information in exchange for further customized and insightful information. Likewise, current customers can be nourished with personalized content, ensuring continuing, lifetime value with which to solidify existing relationships. Optimize your digital tactics – and by extension, your customer’s experience – by balancing the types of content they desire, in the forms and places which they prefer to consume it.
6) Create two-way interaction with buyers. Forrester2 expects marketing leaders to prioritize tactics that “create two-way interaction with buyers while accelerating the purchase journey and lower their risks by allowing repurposing for multiple uses e.g. account-based surveys that can be used by sales and marketing – see attached Forester doc. (Marketing plans must prioritize customer engagement).
To summarize: a documented strategy, content that engages, personal benefits, people-based research and a personalized experience, plus a two way conversation. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to stay on track and deliver on these recommendations in your marketing strategy, check out SimplyDIRECT’s account-based survey process. We work with you to define a set of target accounts and the roles you need to contact. We identify the senior-level decision makers in those roles and then invite them to respond to your survey questions. Survey results provide personalized information as well as aggregate results that you can use to create content, engage prospects and convert them to sales. And we guarantee the results.
Click here to download our survey process overview info graphic.
- 1. 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends – North America. Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs
- 2. http://blogs.forrester.com/laura_ramos/14-01-21-b2b_marketers_expect_bigger_2014_budgets_how_will_you_spend_it_wisely
- 3. B2B Lead Generation Trends for 2014. http://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2013/12161/b2b-lead-generation-trends-for-2014-whats-hot-and-whats-not
- 4. From promotion to emotion. http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd-resources/content/b2b-emotion/index.html
- 5. Top 11 marketing trends for 2014. http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/slide-shows/slide_show_11_top_ma.html
- 6. http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/12/12/digital_marketing_in_2014.html