B2B marketing in 2016 will not be about the “next big thing” as much as it will be “next steps in evolution” across multi-channel marketing efforts. The coming year will be a year of heavy lifting for marketers to properly plan, create and implement data-driven marketing efforts and take advantage of the technology and platforms that have been established over the last several years. 2016 will be a year about utilization — to utilize the technology tools that we have, rather than to spend time, effort and money to jump on board unproven technologies. The pace of digital marketing has been faster than many B2B companies can keep up with, and therefore we may look at 2016 as a “catch-up” year.
Here are a few areas that we are seeing emphasized in the coming year for clients at Two Rivers Marketing:
1) Larger percentage of media spending online
EMarketer reports an estimated 18 percent increase in online media spending from 2015 to 2016. The trend is consistent with what we’re seeing in our markets. In the last couple years, we have seen substantial growth in media budgets allocated to programmatic media buys. Going into 2016, the average percentage of media budgets allocated to digital is around 30 percent.
Digital advertising technologies have allowed improved targeting while delivering more relevant messaging to the intended audience. We now have the ability to target B2B users on sites used for both business and personal media use. This affords B2B brands the opportunity to communicate with their customers in mainstream online media that in the past would have been considered B2C channels exclusively.
2) Improved utilization of CRM
Data issues and fragmented data management at companies have made effective customer relationship management (CRM) elusive at best. Companies have made financial and resource commitments in CRM systems starting with the need to consolidate data to usable format.
As customer data gets “cleaned up,” the implementation of marketing automation will take hold. Customized, one-to-one marketing can, and should, become reality. There will be a push toward predictive modeling to make us more efficient marketers. This means assembling data to the point that customer behavior and buying cycles will be predictable; thus, providing them customized and relevant messages at the optimal point in time.
3) More investment in content creation
Integrating social media into the marketing mix is not free. Owned social media channels need to be supplied new content or they will die. Content creation costs money.
Brands won’t spend less, but they might spend differently. Instead of creating materials for a one-time use or putting resources into a short term “media blitz,” brands now understand that continuity and a stream of constant creation is critical. Funds will continue to shift from traditional areas to content creation — creating videos, stories, case studies and other value-added content. Investing in your brand and telling your own stories creates a more comprehensive, rich and dynamic customer experience when combined with other paid media efforts.
These are just a few of the areas that I predict will evolve in the coming year. We always encourage testing new avenues, but there is still work to be done with existing technologies in 2016. Stay focused, maximize the platforms that are available, and have a great 2016!