What will B2B digital marketing look like in 2017?

October 28, 2016

Today’s B2B buyer is taking a much different path to make their decision than in the past, yet many companies are still marketing to them the same way they did a decade ago.

In 2017, effective digital strategies will be built around the modern buyer’s process and appeal to the way they prefer to be pitched and sold B2B products and services. Companies that embrace this shift will create a blueprint for growth that’s scalable and predictive. The ones that don’t will not only hinder their new business development success, but jeopardize relationships with existing customers as well.

One of the most important emerging trends to acknowledge is the sheer volume of online information that today’s buyer has at their fingertips to perform research on potential vendors and partners. According to Google1, those involved in the B2B buying process are already 57% of the way down the path to a decision before they’ll make contact.

What does this mean to B2B companies hoping to be the lucky recipients of these research-laden new leads? Instead of trying to sell features and benefits that the prospect already knows about from their research, it’s time to show them how your company can uniquely and effectively solve their specific problems.

This idea more than any other will make the biggest impact in how digital strategies are planned and executed in 2017. When considering that the lifetime value for B2B companies is often between $20,000 and $200,0002, losing out on new business by marginalizing today’s buyer is not an option.

In response to these new buying habits, companies will implement a variety of digital tactics that allow their prospects to experience the buying process on their terms. From here, automation tools engage the prospects with nurturing campaigns so they convert at a higher rate when they’re ready. In addition, advanced capabilities will allow B2B companies to continue to market to new customers to build loyalty and create upsell opportunities and referrals.

Build an inbound funnel with hyper-relevant creative content

Content-driven marketing campaigns cost 62% less than traditional, print-based campaigns and are approximately three times as effective at lead generation3. By drawing best-fit prospect into their funnel with content that clearly defines competitive differentiators and unique value propositions, B2B companies position themselves as trusted leaders vs. pushy salespeople.funnel

In 2017 we’ll see companies with a B2B focus implement more video-based content as well, and with good reason. According to Google, 70% percent of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase4. Video is an excellent way to move a prospect from consideration to action. Whether it’s staff interviews, case studies, or product demos, video marketing will play a much more pivotal role in B2B marketing.

Integrate with mobile and social to meet prospects across devices and platforms

Modern buyers are using their smartphones and tablets for work-related tasks more than ever before. Since 2012, Google5 has observed a 91% increase in B2B researchers using smartphones as part of their buying journey. With drastic changes recently announced by Google that will split mobile search results into a separate version than desktop, the time is now for B2B companies to make mobile marketing a key part of their digital strategy.

Often dismissed as an ineffective, and sometimes inappropriate tactic, social media advertising for B2B services should see a surge in 2017. The popularity of social media can’t be ignored, and while direct advertising still may not be a good fit for B2B, remarketing to website visitors on their various social media sites can be another conversion tool that drives traffic and leads.

Look at who you’re marketing to through a different lens

“What can we do to market more to millennials?” This is a question B2B companies are increasingly asking, as the role millennials play in the buying process continues to grow. While the final decision may still be made in the C-Suite, the elevator that leads up there could have its buttons pushed by newer influencers that can’t be overlooked.

Millennials have never known a world that wasn’t connected to the internet, and they’re using integrated content channels like Netflix and YouTube to stream media and news. B2B companies will put more effort into digital marketing that introduces this new generation to their brand and influences their role in the buying process.

If you’re considering digital strategy points for 2017 and would like to hear how the BroadBased team has been setting our clients up for success, reach out to our EVP Chris Ramaglia at 904-398-7279 ext. 17 to schedule some time to talk.

1, 4, 5 – Google, “The changing face of B2B marketing”

2Unbounce, “Is paid search effective for B2B?”

3Demand Metric infographic

EVP and Partner

Chris Ramaglia leads our digital strategies at the agency. He has more than 17 years' experience with online lead generation, holds nine digital marketing certifications, and has a borderline obsession with helping our clients smash their new business goals.