Are you sitting down? Do you have a pen and paper nearby? Grab it, because we’re telling you exactly what your marketing peers and competitors are planning for next year, and you’ll want to keep tabs.
In its thirteenth year, the just-released 2020 B2B Marketing Mix Report surveyed B2B marketers from industries like technology, healthcare, and manufacturing, to uncover how companies plan to spend their precious marketing dollars in the coming year. The report is a tool that B2B marketers have come to rely on as they plan their marketing programs and finalize their marketing budgets for 2020.
Here’s a sneak peek at the top B2B marketing trends for 2020 and the drivers behind each. Discover what’s in store and write the trends down as you read so you remember to find a place for them in your 2020 tactical marketing plan (TMP). Not sure how to start your TMP? Use this five-step guide to develop your tactical marketing plan.
1. Marketing and Sales Alignment
The marketing and sales alignment debacle has been on the mend in recent years with a greater focus on communication, qualifying leads, and hand-offs. When asked to report their top marketing objective(s) for 2020, surveyors indicated that ‘converting leads to customers’ and ‘increasing sales leads’ are most important. That’s right, the top marketing objectives for 2020 are sales objectives!
This is a big deal that demonstrates continued, even achieved, harmony between the departments. Marketing and sales alignment means unified goals and streamlined workflows. HubSpot, which aids alignment by centralizing the functions of marketing, sales, and service, offers up 10 tried-and-true tips for increasing collaboration and communication. Here’s a few of our favorite tips:
- Hold regular “smarketing” meetings to review metrics like MQLs, lead-to-customer conversion rate, and sales quota, and to share upcoming campaigns and content offers.
- Coordinate content marketing campaigns with sales so everyone knows what offers leads are receiving and how to follow-up without repeating information or forgetting details.
- Showcase your sales teams’ expertise to make the hand-off more effective; do this by publishing blogs under their name(s) and encouraging them to use social media.
- Join sales calls occasionally to hear Frequently Asked Questions or common objections that can be answered in future content initiatives or relieved through promotional offers.
- Use a marketing automation software (see #3) to centralize all information about your leads and eliminate human error that comes with redundant or forgotten data entry.
The other top-reported marketing objectives for 2020 include increasing brand awareness; producing thought leadership, and increasing website traffic. All important objectives, indeed, but largely contained to the success of your marketing department.
2. Personalization Strategies & Tactics
The buzzword that keeps on buzzing: personalization. We already know that personalization works. It’s not a new concept, but it’s a trend that continues to pick up steam based on its proven success.
From using names in your subject lines (an oldie but a goodie) and executing LinkedIn InMail, to implementing conversational marketing via chatbots and nurturing leads with buyer-persona-centric content, there’s no one way to tackle personalization. It should be personal, after all, to your company and your audience.
Since personalization isn’t a new strategy and your company is likely already using it, consider enhancing your personalization tactics with data. In your emails, website, content, paid campaigns, and social media posts, get creative with how you leverage data about your prospect, such as:
- Website activity
- Transaction activity
- Campaign activity
- Title/purchasing role
3. Marketing Automation Platforms
Two-thirds of B2B companies use a marketing automation software. Surveyors had the choice of HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, and Other, and by a long shot, HubSpot took the cake as the most popular marketing automation platform. Now, as the only Platinum HubSpot Agency Partner in the region, we understand why HubSpot is so popular among B2B companies. Its integrated CRM, marketing, sales, and service capabilities are easy, centralized, and effective.
Marketing automation also contributes directly to marketing and sales alignment, as well as to personalization. Software like HubSpot automates repetitive tasks like email and social posting and can easily personalize content through workflows. If your company hasn’t invested in one yet, here are the three things you should consider when looking for a marketing automation platform.
4. Instagram for B2B Engagement
Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is the most used social media channel among B2B professionals. “Most used” and “most engaged with”, however, are different things—and Instagram leads on the engagement factor. B2B professionals are consumers too (it’s crazy, I know), and, consumers spend most of their time on Instagram and Facebook. So, while most B2B professionals have a LinkedIn profile, they’re most used to, and comfortable with, engaging with content on a channel like Instagram. This means likes, comments, and most importantly, shares—which is the most authentic, organic, and effective way to expand your reach on social media.
For B2B companies that have a visual component to their work—think architecture or engineering—Instagram is the natural place to be. It’s a way for companies to connect with prospects beyond data, proposals, and meetings and show-off the cool, creative side of the business.
Instagram should also be used for talent recruiting. Culture in the workplace is more important than it’s ever been. Candidates want to know what your company’s culture looks like. Use Instagram to show off your office, employees, team events, and community involvement; doing so will boost engagement from existing employees, as well.
Why These B2B Marketing Trends Took Center Stage
These four trends: marketing and sales alignment; personalization strategies and tactics; marketing automation platforms; and Instagram for B2B engagement, took center stage in this year’s report.
Industries across the board are beginning to take a more holistic view of the way their business functions—finding ways to combine departments, improve communication, and create visibility across their enterprise. The first three trends are all about streamlining what’s already in place to make people’s jobs easier, performance more effective, and the customer experience more enjoyable.
Get Your Copy of the Report Now
Make sure your 2020 marketing program is on par with the industry standard. Get your free copy of the just-released 2020 B2B Marketing Mix Report now. If you’re not sure how to execute on a certain trend or need help tailoring tactics to your industry and audience, talk with us. We love learning about new companies and brainstorming the best ways to reach an audience.