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5 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2020

Lois Dixon
by Lois Dixon - January 3, 2020

2020 predictions

A brand new decade.

It seems like only yesterday that I was telling my colleagues about a revolutionary new thing called Mailchimp, which sends personalised emails on mass…now we are starting 2020 and times have changed so much and marketing has come on leaps and bounds. So as friends and colleagues are looking back and evaluating the past ten years and what they have brought, I want to look forward and look at what might be important in the year to come. So here are five key trends that I think will provide a focus in 2020.

Strategic Focus

Marketing is multi-faceted. It is broad. It is transient. It can be adapted to suit your product and service. And this is one of the reasons that many companies are not getting the most out of the marketing output. It can be extremely wasteful. For marketing to be truly efficient, strategic focus is a must. ABM in its very nature offers focus as targeted activity is key and removes the scattergun approach. But for those yet to embrace Account Based methods, streamlining activities needs to be a focus. Instead of focusing on ‘vanity metrics’, concentrate on measuring the bottom line and work from that. Depth rather than breadth of marketing is important.

There a thousands of apps available to plug in to your existing MarTech stack which will ‘help optimise processes’, but are these really necessary? Is your company getting the most out of legacy systems that have already been invested in? 2019 saw a MarTech explosion and although it has meant Marketeers have options to suit their needs, it has also created a MarTech haze, through which many Marketeers are finding it hard to navigate. Having too many systems, which don’t necessarily speak to each other and indirectly creating even more processes. Automation will help to streamline programmes and processes but having the right MarTech in place is critical, allowing marketeers to focus entirely on the bigger, more refined strategy rather than the smaller day to day workflows.

Customer Experience

It is important when we talk about CX that we understand that each and every touchpoint we have with a customer impacts their experience. This includes before they even enter the buying process. Any experience they have with your brand, before, during and after they buy will form their full experience and be important in how they view your brand, holistically. We have spoken about Customer Experience in the sales process and the importance of the ‘human touch’ but as B2B marketing embraces more and more B2C principles, this is going to be more important than ever. Instead of pushing customers through processes to enable a sale, there needs to be emphasis on addressing the pain points experienced by the customer. Putting them at the centre of everything you do and having a customer-centric focused strategy will mean your activity is not wasted on superfluous marketing and talks directly to the right people at the right time.

Hyper-personalisation

The B2B user journey often has many more touch points and a complexity that appears to make personalisation more difficult to achieve than in B2C marketing. It requires real-time access to audience data across various touchpoints throughout their journey, so marketers may have to invest in the right technology to plug any gaps. However, B2B consumers are expecting the levels of customer service and personalisation they see in B2C marketing. So the level of expectation and delivery have to be aligned. Creating buyer personas is a great way to create segmentation and serve personalised content based on information such as job title, industry vertical/sector, management level and budgetary responsibility, but personalisation in 2020 needs to take a step further. B2B marketeers need to start using tactics such as dynamic web content, progressive fields, behavioural analytics and intent to really get under the skin of their target customers. Once again, using the right MarTech is important and keeping focused on what will help your customer will offer a premium service. Good use of automation and behavioural marketing will ensure you can serve appropriate messaging to the right leads, on the right platforms at the right time in their buying process, whilst taking in to account the numerous stakeholders in the decision making process. The correct use of personalisation will enable customers and create a personalised CX which creates conversation, that they may wish to share with their colleagues.

Account Based Marketing

ABM has dominated 2019. It needs no introduction. However, only 9% of companies classify their ABM programmes as ‘fully adopted’, so there is still a long way to go. However, those companies need to start with the basics. Account selection is key in successful ABM, but this doesn’t mean net new on every occasion. ABM is much easier when starting with existing accounts as you have more data, more insight, and more existing trust. Existing accounts should already be ambassadors of your brand and through sufficient gap analysis, opportunities can be identified. ABM cannot be a discipline that is tagged on to the rest of your marketing, it needs a dedicated team and resource - that combines both sales and marketing, and most importantly, have an agreed MQL/SQL criteria and SLA. Getting these basics right will set a good basis for successful ABM and 2020 should see more and more companies refine their marketing strategies to become primarily account focused.

Channel Transformation

Sherpa have been talking about Channel Transformation for the past year, but we predict that 2020 is the year for change.  Channel Marketing has been stuck in a time warp for the past 20 years, so it is time to make waves and rework tactics and strategies to align with modern day marketing. As the Channel Landscape becomes more complex, Specific channel programmes need to be created which are supported and affordable in field by Partners, and leverage the proposition that Channel Partners bring, to solve additional challenges within the target audiences. Although rarely implemented due to its complexity, the channel is perfectly set up for ABM; it is challenging, but so is good account based marketing. It is simply a case of knowing what you are doing. So this year, one of our resolutions will be to continue transforming the channel and share every step of the way…successes, failures, tips, best practice, the works. So make sure you sign up to the journey. We will be holding events throughout the year dedicated to Channel Transformation and will be posting write ups regularly, so make sure you get on board…

So here is to another great year in marketing…as always, if you need any help or advice…get in touch!

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