B2B marketing sometimes struggles to adopt trends and innovations. B2C takes hold of fashions and often abandons them almost as quickly. B2B marketers usually take longer to convince people that a new format is sustainable or that so many innovations are helpful.
Nevertheless, here are the 4 trends that have been confirmed in 2019 and seem to be set for a good number of years 😉
Account-Based Marketing 🎯
Account-based marketing (ABM) is not new, but it is experiencing a strong revival of interest in the B2B field. A Hubspot study states that 60% of companies in this market plan to implement an ABM strategy in 2020.
As its name suggests and following the principle of Pareto's law (20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue), account-based marketing focuses on a small audience rather than on the most significant number.
An ABM strategy requires your marketing and sales teams to precisely identify the target companies (i.e., by name!). With this strategy, sales and marketing teams use their energy, acquisition strategies and budgets to turn each of these companies into customers.
This may initially seem extraordinarily time-consuming and counterproductive.
However, a well-executed ABM strategy has many advantages 🤓
- shortening the sales cycle 🔄
- ROI analysis made easier 💰
- increasing customer satisfaction 🤗
The personalized approach of this strategy allows us to best target the specific needs of each account. So, rather than creating a white paper that sweeps through all the topics/features of your product, an ABM strategy will encourage you to address only those issues that matter most to your business target.
By personalizing the information, your leads receive the information they need to make a buying decision, and it shortens your sales cycle.
The MarketingCharts platform estimates the average minimum length of a B2B company's sales cycle at 4 months. By reducing this time, the sales and marketing teams have more time to devote to other accounts.
ROI is also easier to analyze as part of an ABM strategy compared to other traditional marketing campaigns. By targeting a single account, the time calculation/cost investment spent on each prospect/customer is much more direct than when it has to be spread over a group of different types of customers.
Of course, ABM means personalizing the message. This personalization feeds customer satisfaction, which in turn improves customer retention.
On the personalization side, Dropcontact automatically completes your CRM with your prospects' files to:
- retrieve all their contact information (email address, LinkedIn profile, company phone number)
- Enhance corporate information to segment your database and identify the targets of your ABM strategy (sector, workforce, sales, etc.).
You can also use the Crystal plugin, an innovative tool that allows you to identify specific personality traits of your prospects and allows you to adapt the style of your emails to suit them better.
The chatbots 🤖
B2B marketing strategies are increasingly linked to brand platforms.
Previously, Sales teams responded to the needs of their prospects in the form of direct, one-to-one conversations. Today's leads enjoy more autonomy and prefer to find the answers to their questions by searching for them online themselves.
According to a Google study, almost 89% of B2B buyers conduct online searches during the purchasing process. If your brand platform doesn't offer sufficient clarity and comfort, your prospects will look for this information elsewhere...
Chatting is part of the process of providing a better customer experience. From "nice to have" over the last few years, it is becoming a must-have feature. When used correctly, chatbots can significantly reduce the time spent dealing with customer requests. They also provide the user with a more responsive customer service, which significantly improves customer satisfaction.
Today, people have adopted chatbots. At the same time, their performance continues to improve: better understanding of questions (based on the context and the volume of questions thanks to the contribution of AI). More generally, there is a much better interpretation of sentences (support of AI advances by NLP - natural language processing - which adds a layer of "human" understanding to this precisely "artificial" intelligence).
That's where the real difference for the user comes in. The exchange is fluid. You finally escape the answering machine syndrome (the one that invites you to communicate by keywords "To access your folder, type 1 or say "folder", as if you were the robot 🤔).
To see what we manage to get today, take a look at Hellomybot.io. The product is beautiful and promising.
Of course, all your customer management cannot rely on this "simple" tool that, despite these constant evolutions, is still reserved for managing current requests.
This should be seen more as a hub for sorting requests and directing them more efficiently towards the expected solutions: selecting relevant FAQs, more complete marketing resources, the registration of a technical support ticket, etc.
The chat can also be an effective filter for a well-conducted ABM strategy. Provided it is connected to a visitor identification solution, it will be able to direct a prospect belonging to the priority target towards a dedicated Sales team member (yes, remember, Marketing and Sales have identified their dream customers "by name" 😍). On the contrary, a visitor who does not belong to the target group will be offered a maximum amount of content through the chatbot (referral to online resources, display of the price, how to access a phone line or a support email), with a time/man reduced to a minimum. Evil yes... 😈
Some platforms integrate part of the FAQs directly into the chat. That is the case with Helpscout, where you can suggest different content in the chat room depending on the page.
Other solutions allow you to push personalized content by searching for information contained in your CRM. For example, at Dropcontact, we use Chatra to deliver via chat the results of data enrichment tests performed on Dropcontact. That allows us to engage in discussion with hot prospects.
Don't forget the French Crisp and its ingenious Magic Type feature that allows you to read what the client starts typing before it is sent. That allows you to anticipate the customer's response and save the seconds of reactivity that make for excellent customer support. ⚡️
The video format 📹
Studies show that we retain video better than text content. 81% of Internet users browse the information with a maximum memorization rate of around 20% (source: WebDAM).
Video enables marketers to engage with their audience and deliver clear messages. B2C marketing has been using it for many years, while B2B is starting to take it up more commonly.
Publishers mainly use video to make a product demo (especially when it is a complex product or service), stage customer testimonials, and provide webinars or case studies.
Videos can also be designed as a series, such as blog posts. Several episodes can be shared or put online regularly to build audience loyalty and encourage them to visit your site regularly.
The startup Welcome to the Jungle has made video its trademark. Broadcasting specialized HR content has built its image as a reference media while demonstrating its expertise (audiovisual production).
The podcast 🎧
Always a trendy format, the podcast improves the memorization of the information. It also has the advantage of being able to be "consumed" without physically mobilizing the listener (e.g., listening on transport, during a gym session, getting ready in the morning, cleaning up at home, etc.). This characteristic positions it as a medium that conveys an image of efficiency. You might want to exploit if your product/service is also positioned in this niche.
As a Nielsen study suggests, the profile of podcast listeners is also (overall) more senior than for other media. That may also reach higher management levels than those to which Sales Ops usually have access and thus multiply the points of contact in the company.
Podcasts are suitable for all sectors. Like other content formats, it must focus on bringing value to your listeners. You may concentrate on the information quality, but audio quality needs to be taken care of if you rely on the virality of your content.
Finally, you may easily declinate the podcast into video form (broadcasting the video) and text form (retranscription).
Three formats, three audiences, three chances to hit your target.
NB: this strategy pays off yet remains little practiced if we believe the difficulty we encountered in providing you with an example... Have you declined an episode of a B2B podcast in video and text versions? Send us enough to update our article!
What about you?
Have you ever implemented any of these strategies? How do you feel about your company's openness to marketing innovations?