Predicting the Future of B2B Marketing: 3 Things to Watch For in 2020
The future of marketing is an endlessly fascinating topic. After all, who doesn’t want to know the future? Yet while predicting the future is interesting, there’s no denying that it’s also a serious business. Whether or not your team accurately predicts the market can determine which business ideas succeed and which fail, where money is invested, and who keeps their jobs.The allusions to crystal balls and marketing in outer space are fun (I just built a whole site with sea creatures in outer space — trust me, I believe in having fun), but the fact remains that the stakes are high.
There’s a lot of ideas out there about what marketing will look like in 2020 and beyond, and it can be hard to sift through the noise. Which one should you pay attention to?
My advice is that you listen to all of them. Seek out the opinions of marketers you respect, and listen carefully to what they have to say. After all, the future is unknowable — every idea is fair game.
But once you’ve gathered all those opinions and you’re trying to figure out which ideas to act on, start looking for patterns. Which ideas come up over and over again? Those should be on your radar, because there’s a good chance that they’ll actually happen.
Luckily for you, I’ve already sought out predictions from eight highly respected marketers! They all have thoughtful, unique perspectives on the future of marketing, and I encourage you to check out the videos where they discuss their predictions in depth. Here’s the trends that showed up in multiple predictions, in their own words (quotes have been edited for clarity).
1. B2B content and marketing experiences will be more personalized.
When someone interacts with your brand, whether it’s a prospect or a customer, they should feel like you care about them. This can be done in a lot of ways, as you’ll read about below. But the short version is that you should always keep your audience — and specific audience members — in mind. What sort of content do they want to see? What would fascinate them? And once you have them hooked, what do they want to see next?
The winners over the next several years, and certainly beyond that, will be those who focus on experience management. It doesn’t matter if you have the best strategy. You can have the best systems and tools, the best people… but if you’re not paying attention to the experience that buyers and companies are having with your brand, with your people, with your content, then that’s where you’re going to fail, frankly.
– Maneeza Aminy, CEO of Marvel Marketers
I think personalization is already happening today, and we’re seeing people taking information and sharing that in a variety of formats, but doing that in a way that isn’t very scalable. I think we’re gonna see more personalized, intimate, meaningful personalization happen on an automated basis, in a way that can scale.
– Matt Heinz, President and Founder of Heinz Marketing
Buyers are now being equipped to make decisions, as they do, through our content. The battle now goes to those brands with the best ideas, those that can deliver real value in thought… but companies’ content is often too self-serving to be useful. Marketing teams need to be dedicated to extracting new perspectives and original ideas from within our organizations and the market. In fact, brands shouldn’t shy away from telling hard truths that face our buyers.
– Katie Martell, On-Demand B2B Marketer
We fail to think about where customers click next when they get to your site… And the reality about all marketing strategies is that they all lead back to content. We have to build what I like to call content experiences. Content experiences are a collection of content that’s lined up so that your audience goes down a journey that feels handpicked for them.
– Randy Frisch, CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip
2. How we use B2B marketing technology is going to change.
The marketing platforms currently out there don’t reflect the ways that marketers actually work. The gap is growing wider every year, and the time is ripe for new technology to appear that bridges this gap. Keep an eye out for new tech, because I’m hearing mutterings of some exciting new tools…
You’re not going to be successful in B2B marketing for the next decade if you’re using technologies from the last decade. And when people try to do that, that’s where we’re running into all the pains that we experience today… We’re gonna see the rise of a new generation of B2B marketing engagement solutions that really are purpose-built for this new era in which marketing and sales work together in a more fundamental team-based fashion.
– Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio
We want better insights, and we want a way to see around corners, and AI and machine learning’s giving that to us mixed with IoT, which is giving it to us where we want it, when we want it. And I think all of these things have the ability to really impact marketing and change how we take an approach, right? We should be following those technology trends and using that as a way to get to our buyer in a smart way.
– Maria Pergolino, CMO of ActiveCampaign
Even if you’ve consolidated and optimized your MarTech stack, the systems really don’t integrate very well. And when they do integrate well — let’s say you have a very smart technical team in house — the data that comes from the MarTech ecosystem is not a coherent story. And it typically takes a lot of work, manual or otherwise, to really get to the crux of what all of this technology is saying about your buyer. I’m really looking forward to when developers create some technologies to really assist this. With this problem statement, everyone would be on board with a solution like that.
– Maneeza Aminy, CEO of Marvel Marketers
3. B2B marketing is going to start focusing more on post-sale growth.
One statistic in Justin Grey’s video that blew my mind was that Salesforce can hit 73% of their 2020 number based on growth from within their customer base alone. Now, we’re not all Salesforce. But with SaaS companies relying on recurring revenue, it makes a lot of sense for marketing to start putting more resources towards retention and expansion.
We have to stop focusing on net new, and move over to a whole different metric set. Churn, churn reduction, negative churn… we’re already enabling the buyer, we need to truly enable the customer. We already know what they want, what’s gonna be impactful for their organization. We have to enable our customer success teams with the information that we’ve learned through the sales and marketing process, and fulfill the promise that we made to the buyer, quite frankly.
– Justin Grey, CEO and Founder of LeadMD
We’re not just going to think of customers as just getting that initial sale… we’re gonna build intentional processes after they become customers. We’re gonna put the same effort and rigor into the relationship with the customer as we do into the sales process and demand gen process. We’re going to build processes for how we engage with them as humans. We’re going to find ways to continue to encourage them to interact with their peers. All of these things are going to become core to how we do business going forward.
– Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst and Co-Founder of TOPO
If you want to hear more, check out the videos! Are there any trends in the future of marketing that you’ve noticed? Or maybe you have a prediction of your own? Leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts!