Looking At Your Crystal Ball: B2B Marketing Trends For 2015

01-26-15 Blog PicMarketing has changed drastically over the last 5 years. Inevitably, someone always asks for my opinions on the latest tools and trends that are making the biggest contributions to success. Unfortunately, like weight loss, this industry has no magic pill—it takes effort, consistency and a lot of hard work.

With this rapidly changing environment, it’s imperative that you understand the top B2B marketing trends for 2015 and then use that information to create an action plan.

An Important Study

In October 2014, the Content Marketing Institute released its third annual benchmark study that analyzed several content marketing trends. Sponsored by the EnVeritas Group, B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends discusses what marketers plan to do as B2B marketing trends for 2015.

Documentation Improves Effectiveness

Over half of the marketers surveyed in the study said they have implemented verbal content marketing strategies—meaning they have a strategy, they’ve just never documented it. In fact, only one-quarter of the marketers admit to have a written content marketing game plans.

Expect the documentation of content marketing strategies to increase among marketers, as the study emphasizes that marketers who currently document their content marketing plans have more success tracking return on investment. By tracking ROI, marketers are able to determine the most effective tactics and it also allows them to test and improve results over time.

Content Quality over Quantity

Savvy brands already know that uploading quality content which helps visitors solve problems is the ticket to riding high in the search engines and building trust and credibility. Yet the number of marketers that place more importance on content quality, rather than quantity, remains low.

During 2015, the study predicts a growing number of businesses will streamline their website content to remove the fluff and add what really matters. The trend to improve the quality and relevance of content means the demand for writing professionals will intensify. I think we’ve already started to some evidence of this in late 2014.

One Size No Longer Fits All

The shotgun approach to messaging in B2B marketing that might have worked well in the past, isn’t likely to have relevance in 2015. Expect marketers to implement a more targeted marketing approach that employs customization messaging for reaching subsets or segments of targeted audiences. The refined approach to B2B marketing should enhance business-customer interactions by delving deep into customer needs and motivations.

We have the technology to track and observe behaviors by our readers, so we can use research that data to segment the audience and deliver more relevant content. Prospects who receive personalized marketing messages are more likely to continue to engage and become loyal patrons of your business.

B2B Marketing Goes Mobile

A rapidly growing number of prospects make business inquiries and research products from their mobile devices. Your prospects want to experience the same quality digital experience from their smart phones and other devices that they receive from your website that they access from personal computers. You need to develop a mobile-friendly website layout that reduces the bells and whistles, and focuses more on delivering helpful information.

Tracking ROI

As it should be, measurement continues to be a hot topic among content marketers. Unfortunately, only 21% said they are successful at tracking ROI in their content marketing programs. For those marketers that indicated they have a documented strategy, that number goes up to 35%. Interestingly enough, almost half of the B2B marketers indicated measuring content marketing effectiveness is a challenge.

B2B Paid Advertising Usage

After creating all that content, we need to ensure it’s getting some level of exposure so in addition to organic delivery, you have to use some form of paid advertising to increase the number of eyeballs that see the content. 80% of the marketers surveyed use at least one method of paid advertising with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) being the most common with 58% usage. The image below details the other B2B Paid Advertising usage among those surveyed.

 

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Interestingly enough, 34% of those surveyed indicated native advertising, which is still considered a relatively new form of paid advertising, was part of their advertising mix.

Effective at Content Marketing

Only 38% of overall respondents indicated they felt their organization was effective at content marketing—meaning they were accomplishing all of their goals. This number is down from 42% last year. The survey didn’t discuss the reason why marketers felt this was the case, but it’s not hard to see that there is an awful lot of content out there, but much of it never gets read. And there are several good explanations as to why.

In some cases, it’s due to the content not being all that well written, compelling and relevant. This certainly speaks to another challenge listed in the study—54% of respondents indicated that producing engaging content is a persistent challenge along with producing content consistently at 50%.

Having been in the content marketing business for more than five years now and having read a great deal of online content, all of these reasons affect the success of content marketing. In order to get people to read your content, it has to be good. There’s too much pressure on our time today to be wasting it reading mediocre information.

I think it’s also very important that the material be relevant to the audience. If a reader can’t see how the information is useful for them or if it doesn’t elevate the writer as some kind of thought leader, the lack of relevance will repel a reader very rapidly.

And finally, whatever content is written does need to have an amplification plan—a plan to tell the world it’s out there so that people can come and consume it. And this is where the requirement for routine and consistent sharing across social channels and even paid channels is necessary.

Again, one of the most important messages from this research really is the value of having a written content marketing strategy to plan and guide the process. You wouldn’t set out on a cross-country journey without a map and time lines and potential stops along the way.

If your content marketing has started out without much of a plan or system behind it, building a content marketing strategy that is documented is well worth the time and effort to guide you. Not only will it make your job easier to deliver higher value content, it will also serve to enhance the program when you bring in or train new team members. It will also help to ensure you continue to get the budget you’ll need to deliver the content in your plan.

If you need some help establishing a content marketing strategy, we offer a complimentary 30 minute consultation to assist you with that process. You can find it here.

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