Top 15 Major B2B Marketing Trends for 2020 and Beyond

Introduction

The world has become a global village, thanks to technology. People now connect with friends, family, colleagues and business acquaintances from all over the world as though they were in the same room. Thanks to the internet and smart devices, information is also more accessible to consumers, which makes it easy for businesses to promote brand awareness through digital media.

There are clear signs that most brands will continue to increase their digital marketing budgets from 2020 going forward. According to data from Statista, global marketing spend on digital ads will reach $385 billion by 2020 and will continue to increase gradually, reaching $517 billion by 2023.”

digital spend for 2020

Figure 1: Estimates of global digital spend for 2020 and beyond

Therefore, as you go into 2020, your business will not only need to keep up with digital trends but will also need to invest more in digital marketing, in order to experience its positive impacts.

That said, below are 15 trends that we believe will impact b2b marketing in the coming year and beyond:

#1. Use of Chatbots Will Continue to Increase

If you are using human personnel to monitor communication on your website, you no doubt find it expensive. It is also almost impossible for human attendants to capture every prospect or lead because they can only talk to one person at a time. Additionally, it’s likely that you are losing a lot of leads whenever people are put on hold or if they must wait until office hours to be attended to. Chatbots take care of all these problems.

A lot of businesses now use chatbots on their websites. This is because they allow businesses to capitalize on all interactions, including those that happen after office hours. Not to mention, chatbots can attend to multiple people in real time without needing to put them on hold. Chatbots save time, they increase customer satisfaction levels by always being there to serve, and they are always provide unbiased service.

It makes sense that a technology that provides such benefits will continue to gain more relevance next year.

#2. More Use of Messaging Apps in Business

A lot of people use messaging apps like whatsapp and viber to communicate. The ability to hold private messaging groups is one of the features that make messaging apps very powerful. Companies that use messaging apps to communicate with their customers can target large groups of people who share common interests and who also value each other’s opinion. As well, monetization of messaging apps will provide convenient avenues for your clients to shop, make payments or transfer money.

Going forward, use of messaging apps will give marketers an avenue for speedier, personalized and effective communication.

#3. Artificial Intelligence Will Be More Pervasive

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to a machine’s ability to work like a human. Chatbots and virtual assistants such as Siri or google assistant, are all forms of AI.

One way that AI will impact business in 2020 is by using chatbots as discussed above. According to salesforce, 51% of customers say that their expectations are fulfilled by AI. In marketing, advancements in AI will be useful in improving customer experience and for better retargeting. Salesforce team also maintains that advanced deep learning algorithms will enable AI to gather data that will be useful to spot patterns in behavior.

#4. Personalization

Personalization is what has enabled big brands like Amazon to build their businesses into the giants they are today. Amazon analyzes customers’ behavior and promotes products to those customers based on past purchases or browsing history. For instance, if you buy a pair of sports sneakers, you may also need jogging pants, a heart-rate monitor, a water bottle or even a bicycle. The assumption is that you are a sports enthusiast and therefore Amazon will send these types of complementary offers to you.

Personalization generates more leads, and you can achieve this in 2020 with the aid of marketing software that will help you to create micro-segments. According to Gartner, creating content suited to these micro-segments will lead to successful personalization by giving customers what they want.

Personalized emails will also lead to more marketing success. According to campaign monitor, personalized emails have a 26% higher likelihood of being opened than generic emails. marketers also said tat it increase revenue by 760%.  If you have been sending generic emails to your customers, 2020 should be your year to re-evaluate this approach. A good place to start is to address your customers in emails by their names.

#5. Growth of Influencer Marketing

Acquiring new customers is vital for any business to thrive. But marketers know that campaigns don’t always reach everyone, no matter how targeted they are. Marketers are also aware that even though their ads get seen, people are more likely to buy based on a recommendation from someone they trust.

Therefore in 2020, there will be a strong emphasis in working with influencers. A report from influencer marketing hub shows steady growth of the influencer marketing industry between 2016 to 2019. During the same period, the number of influencer marketing platforms has more than doubled. In 2016, the number of influencer marketing platforms stood at 335. By 2018, there were 740 influencer platforms, and this number has grown by 320 in 2019.

influencer marketing

Figure 2: image from influencer marketing hub

#6. Transparent Data Handling

The world has become dependent on search engines, online retail giants and social media. but while people want the conveniences that these digitized services provide, there have been concerns in recent years about how the companies that offer these services handle customer data.

In the past, lax data protection policies have resulted in customer data loss and millions of dollars in settlement payments. Yahoo, uber, eBay, Equifax are examples of companies that have fallen victim to data breaches. Data protection policies such as the GDPR have since been enacted, to ensure that any company collecting, or handling customer data puts measures in place to protect that data and to use it responsibly and transparently.

A report from SSRN shows that data privacy laws continue to be enacted in more countries. As consumers continue demanding more control over their own data, we are bound to see companies wanting to appear transparent and also giving back control to their customers.

#7. Consolidating Marketing into One Platform

Data represents a body of insight that is quite useful to marketers. This makes the technology with which to harness and draw insights from data crucially important. However, studies now show that an overaccumulation of data has led companies to invest in multiple data management tools. In addition to analytics tools, most companies handle their social media marketing, content creation, SEO, lead nurturing and email marketing on separate softwares. It can be difficult not only to manage these many tools, but also to strategize or arrive at accurate analysis. According to Clickz, 89% of executives say that poor data quality makes delivering a good customer experience even more difficult.

As we go into 2020, there will be more integration of tools to ensure better decision making and streamlined marketing efforts. Hubspot are already providing such a service and most other companies are expected to follow suit.

#8. Content Marketing Will Continue, With a Strong Focus on Interactive Content

Content has always been and will continue to be an important part of digital marketing in the years to come. Content is what allows your website to be found online. As well, search engine indexing favors websites that provide useful content.

As such, in 2020, content marketing should feature prominently in your marketing strategy. You must invest in creating relevant and authoritative content that will showcase your expertise.

What’s more, content must be interactive. It must provide your audience with new and exciting experiences. Therefore, if you haven’t used visual content in your marketing before, this coming year will be a good time to start exploring this option. Interactive content attracts more attention, sells more products, and according to 88% of marketers, it helps with brand differentiation.

#9. Google Ads Will Be More Optimized, Thanks to Smart Bidding

If you have used Google ads before, you know how effective it is at generating traffic by placing your brand in front of millions of potential customers. Google ads now incorporate smart bidding, a machine learning bidding algorithm that can analyze millions of signals in real time, allowing businesses to place smart bids.

With smart bidding,

  • You can access report that show you the results of your bidding strategy
  • Automatically set your bids to change when sales performance dips
  • Forecast performance of different targets through bid simulators
  • Run multiple automated campaigns

As businesses strive for more efficient use of their marketing budgets, smart bidding will enable marketers to place optimal bids and drive consistent performance in their campaigns.

#10. Visual Search Will Gain More Traction

Offering an enhanced user experience is a great way to ensure customer satisfaction. A great way to do this is by using visual search to give accurate search results. When a person conducts visual search, they get results that exactly match the image they uploaded for the search.

A great example of visual search is Pinterest’s Lens, which is very instrumental for online shoppers or for Pinterest users who want to view pins of similar products. Shoppers can also browse through catalogues from brands like Target and use Lens Your Look for accurate outfit planning.

Other visual search apps include Google Lens, camfind and Bing visual search all of which are instrumental in the shopping process, particularly with millennials.  According to social media today, 62% of millennials prefer visual search, hence jumping on the visual search band wagon is bound to place you ahead of your competitors particularly when it comes to this age group.

#11. Growth of Social Commerce

Ecommerce has experienced steady growth over the last decade and according to predictions from Emarketer, by 2022, ecommerce sales will grow to over $5 trillion.

Growth of ecommerce

Figure 3: Growth of global ecommerce sales; Image from emarketer

This growth is set to coincide with increasing interest in social media, which now plays an important role in people’s lives, including financial transactions. for instance, brands with instagram accounts can now sell their products from Instagram through the “instagram checkout” button. The “buy now” option also allows customers to complete their transaction from your website.

If you think that Instagram is not a suitable marketing platform for your brand, consider that millennials make up 40% of the workforce. Give Instagram a try in 2020 and you could open new avenues of business that you hadn’t envisioned thus far.

#12. An Automated Omni-Channel Marketing Approach

Omni-channel marketing is an integrated approach to selling that aims to provide a seamless experience to customers, regardless of the channel they are using to access your brand. For an omni-channel approach to succeed, it requires automation software to ensure that brand messaging is consistent across all mediums.

Statistics from Omnisend show that an automated omni-channel workflow can result in purchase frequency up to 250% higher and 90% more customer retention, in addition to better engagement rate and higher order values. (source: Omnisend via Clickz)

Implementing and managing an omni-channel strategy is challenging, but brands are taking advantage of the myriad of tools available in the market today to deliver great service on all fronts.

#13. Geo-Fencing Will Continue to Grow

Geo-fencing is not a new concept. Marketers have been showing advertisements to people based on where they live. This tactic is targeted and effective. According to research, as demand for location-based apps continues to grow among consumers, companies like Apple, pulsate and others, are investing in geo-fencing apps to fulfill this demand.

If you run a local business, you can take advantage of geo-targeted marketing to get more walk-ins from your digital customers or target your audience as they go about their day.

#14. Increased Use of User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content is a form of word of mouth marketing, and this is what has led to its growing popularity. Studies show that people trust other consumers more than they trust brands. In one survey, 90% of respondents said that majority of their purchase decisions are influenced by user generated content.

Brands like buffer, IBM, Adobe and Hootsuite are examples of b2b brands that leverage user generated images, blog posts and videos. Hundreds of other brands also post testimonials and reviews generated by their customers.

User generated content allows people to feel like they are a part of your brand’s journey and this is important from a marketing perspective. Customers feel even more special when a brand shows appreciation for any shared content. For instance, you can offer your customers an incentive whenever they create content that features your brand. User generated content is good for SEO, social media reach and is a great source for customer insights.

A study conducted by Comscore found that a marketing strategy that combines UGC and content that is professionally produced , results in higher perception and sales effectiveness scores.  As such, if you haven’t been leveraging UGC in your marketing, digital marketing, 2020 is the year for you.

#15. More Reliance on Predictive Analytics

SaS defines predictive analytics as, “…the use of data, statistical algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. The goal is to go beyond knowing what has happened to providing a best assessment of what will happen in the future.”

Your prospects leave a trail of data online but unless you are mining it and using advanced analytics, that data is wasted. In marketing, predictive analytics is useful for improving segmentation, better lead scoring and creating more accurate personas. This results in higher levels of customer loyalty and less churn.

Use of predictive analytics is gaining traction in most industries and will continue to do so as we go into 2020. For instance, predictive analytics can be used to forecast future product demand and sales, making manufacturing processes more efficient. In healthcare, the quality of medical care can improve while reducing costs, if medical providers can predict health risks.

Conclusion

Technology is always advancing and as you can see, most of the trends above are tied to technology. Therefore, to succeed in digital marketing, your company needs to keep up with all the smart technologies of the future. These technologies will help you decide more accurately what your customers want, how they want it, at what price and when they want it. For instance, to personalize content, you need to know what your customers prefer to read.

As you make your end-of-year budget allocations, give yourself a competitive edge by making provisions that will allow you to take advantage of the trends above.

About Author

Shawn Hadden is a digital marketing strategist. He provides innovative and results-driven internet marketing solutions so that business owners become even more successful in their chosen fields of endeavor.

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