While tech is ubiquitous in the world today, it doesn’t entirely sell itself yet. Business-to-business marketing professionals need to stay aware of the newest trends in the industry continually. However, trends change and shift so quickly that even the most current experts sometimes find themselves caught unaware when new marketing strategies or approaches emerge. 

As 2020 progresses, the need to be aware of what trends are likely to be crucial to the success of B2B marketing professionals remains vital. To help, these 16 professionals from Forbes Communications Council take a look at what B2B marketing trends we should keep an eye on in 2020.

1. Mastering The Soft Sell

Now is the time for compassion and understanding. As the world is reeling from a global pandemic, we, as marketers and communicators, need to lead with empathy. Don’t push products or solutions. Rather, create educational material or thought leadership pieces. The companies that master a soft sell while being compassionate will be the winners of 2020. – Liza Horowitz, Beacon Platform

2. Click Segmentation

We’re seeing tremendous growth in the number of brands hypertargeting customers using click segmentation in their email marketing. By automatically segmenting email lists based on what people click on, brands are seeing higher open and click-through rates, to lower unsubscribe rates. Click segmentation will help brands take their digital communications strategy to the next level in 2020 and beyond. – John Orlando, Constant Contact

3. Video For Humanizing Business

I believe humanizing business is a major current and future trend, which is why video is an effective method to deliver messages. People don’t read. They’re bombarded with too much content. Videos can be personalized and that’s what customers expect from brands. Now, I’m off to go create a “thank you” video for my team. – Stacy Sherman, Customer Experience Expert

4. Live Streaming For Digital Communication

The demand for live streaming will surge. More and more people will be viewing content from the comfort of their home or office. As marketers, we should consider incorporating live streaming into our campaigns and events — internal and external. We’ll also be faced with the challenge of creating entertaining and interactive content that’ll break through the clutter and impact a company’s bottom line. – Parna Sarkar-Basu, Brand and Buzz Marketing, LLC.

5. Better Tools For Video Content

According to a HubSpot report, 92% of marketers say video is an important part of their marketing strategy. So, the volume of video content being produced is increasing to best engage customers and employees. With this influx, marketers need an efficient, cost-effective tech solution, like a digital asset management platform, to store, manage and distribute content and future-proof their strategy. – Helen Aboagye, Imagen

6. Intent Signals

We are doubling down on intent signals, using search analytics to guide our prospecting and digital advertising spend. We are fishing where the fish are biting. No more standing on the dock waiting for the fish to swim past (our website). Data-driven ads and outreach are increasing connections, meeting setting and hopefully downstream conversion. – Andrew Kokes, HGS

7. A Focus On First-Party Data

Many of the leading business-to-business technology companies are placing increasing importance on cultivating direct marketing relationships with prospects, as opposed to buying leads from third parties because of changing regulation (GDPR, CCPA, etc). As a result, B2B technology companies are investing more in developing their own tech stacks that are integrated cross-channel with DMPs and CDPs. – Brian Lee, Unleash Your Identity

8. Growing Importance Of Predictive Analytics

The coronavirus pandemic has created a sudden, major disruption to the economy. Marketers are scrambling to adapt their plans in such a dynamic environment. Predictive analytics can help marketers model scenarios based on economic principles, and adapt their spending, channels and timing to create a data-driven strategy that reduces risk and takes the “guesswork” out of that process. – Nanette Kirsch, Keen Decision Systems

9. Increased Focus On Data Privacy

There is probably no bigger shift happening in marketing (both B2B and B2C) than the continuously evolving data privacy landscape. B2B marketers are used to leveraging a lot of customer and prospect data in their campaigns, but new regulations are forcing companies to take a hard look at the data they collect and store. Marketers need to pay close attention to how this impacts their capabilities. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

10. Podcasts Being The New Normal

Pick any B2B tech marketing trend (such as augmented reality, account-based marketing or AI-led automation), talk to experts about it, record and podcast. It’s the best way to reach busy on-the-go tech marketers who tend to multitask while listening to podcasts. Transcribe the podcast to create content that helps the same tech marketers in their search for more information on the trend. – Prashant Saxena, Isentia

11. Better Tools To Differentiate Audiences

A significant trend I expect is having reliable online/social media monitoring tools that gauge legitimate brand sentiment. This would also help differentiate between real audiences and the behavior of synthetic audiences (bots) that can mislead you. – Roohi Saeed, Procore

12. Heavily Personalized Communications

Your potential clients and customers have unique personas, identities and preferences; treat them that way. Make sure to go beyond simple variables in your communications. One of the reasons our company keeps heavily investing in our employee benefits virtual assistance is its ability to hyperpersonalize communication at scale. Design your communications for an audience of one. – Rick Ramos, HealthJoy

13. Comprehensive Virtual Event Strategies

Given the current global situation, watch for more comprehensive virtual event strategies that use interactive platforms such as Zoom and Hangouts (vs. traditional webinar platforms). Events should involve multiple parties who interact, engage the audience, and take on more of a debate or panel session format to involve people and bring in multiple viewpoints and issues. – Jennifer Kyriakakis, MATRIXX Software

14. Rise Of B2B Influencers

Influencer marketing disrupted the B2C extremely overtly — think swipe up to shop, influencer-branded clothing lines, etc. But B2B hasn’t realized that influencers are making their way into their space and will be just as disruptive. These influencers might not have the numbers reach, but they are incredibly influential as thought leaders and will drive an increasing number of B2B purchasing decisions. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

15. RCS Messaging

RCS (rich communication services) messaging will open up a new form of communication for businesses. It will allow marketers to add photos, videos, locations, map directions and more to their messages. This is a big upgrade on standard SMS functionality and will help B2B marketers showcase their products and services in new ways. – Liam Quinn, Reach Interactive

16. Hyperrelevance

Hyperrelevance is all that matters now. Regardless of what technology you employ (and there are some great ones out there with intent signals, web personalization, sending platforms, marketing automation, etc.), marketers are now in a world where they need to keep their ear to the ground and know exactly what their audiences are thinking and caring about and crafting the message for that moment. – Daniel Frohnen, Sendoso

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This article is written by Expert Panel, Forbes Communications Council and originally published here

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