The B2B marketplace is changing, and B2B marketing must change with it. Each year, trends emerge in how B2B companies prioritize objectives, choose tactics and invest their time and money. The 2019 B2B Marketing Mix Report by Sagefrog Marketing Group reveals themes that underlie the actions B2B marketing professionals will take in the next year, perhaps the most consistent of which was personalization.
In 2019, marketers will blend personalization and traditional tactics to reach customers most effectively. To do this, companies have invested heavily in search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure their content is found by people when they need it. Read more about customer-centric, personalized marketing trends emerging in 2019 here.
Beyond personalization though, one of the most important takeaways from the 2019 B2B Marketing Mix Report is the list of B2B marketing objectives that marketers will prioritize in the next year. Read more on the takeaways here. The report reveals that in 2019, the chief objectives for most B2B marketers will be: increasing sales leads, increasing brand awareness, increasing web traffic and converting leads to consumers. Let’s take a closer look at each of these B2B marketing objectives.
Increasing Sales Leads
What’s the difference between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)? While the difference lays in the quality and buying urgency of the lead, closing the gap that separates marketing leads from sales leads was deemed an important goal by marketers for the next year.
MQLs tend to meet BANT criteria: Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline, which indicates if a prospect is likely to become a customer or not. However, the fact that B2B marketers are viewing increasing sales leads as a top marketing objective is an example of the emerging trend to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, otherwise known as smarketing—finally! This trend and the general incorporations of sales goals into the marketing process helps align the priorities of organizations, making B2B companies run, and subsequently grow, more efficiently.
Increasing Brand Awareness
Being top-of-mind to a prospect is of vital importance in today’s buyer, not seller, market. Prospects who are in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey are the people companies need to target with awareness-stage tactics to ensure they’ll come their way once they reach the consideration stage.
To do this, start by ensuring your brand is one that makes your company look, feel and sound like a company that others want to do business with. The marketplace is saturated with brands emerging every day, and therefore companies must continually refine themselves to break through the clutter.
Once your brand is up to snuff, start positioning your company as the subject-matter expert on the topics awareness-stage prospects are researching for by publishing educational, helpful and non-promotional content.
Converting Leads to Consumers
With one-click ecommerce sites like Amazon making today’s world of browsing and purchasing so easy, customers are craving the same ease in the B2B sales cycle—causing it to become shorter, mimicking that of B2C.
The long, traditional sales cycle that was once the hallmark of B2B is changing to a fast, frictionless process that eliminates all unnecessary expenditures of time and interaction throughout the buyer’s journey. A friendly, fast user experience that B2B customers can easily navigate on their own to make quick purchases and changes on their accounts, rather than requiring repeated calls to sales representatives, is becoming the preferred interaction for B2B professionals and focus for marketers.
Increasing Web Traffic
The importance of web traffic is increasing with the need for a strong digital presence that stands out among competitors online. The advantage of increasing web traffic is two-fold for marketers: first, it drives prospects to your brand with the possibility of capturing a lead, and second, the frequent website visits help with SEO, boosting the rankings of your site as it becomes relevant to more users and Google.
It’s no wonder that tactics that help drive web traffic like email and content marketing emerged as heavy investments for B2B marketers for 2019. In fact, 71% of B2B buyers said that throughout their searches for products and services, they consumed blog content1. Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with customer centricity because by putting out useful content, prospects will become familiar with your brand before the competitive consideration stage even begins.
Going into 2019, B2B marketers are investing in tactics and prioritizing objectives that emphasize the customer. This past year saw a heavily increased investment in SEO, and, though traditional tactics like tradeshows will continue to be important, this is a clear sign that digital marketing is not going anywhere. By prioritizing the objectives of increasing sales leads and brand awareness, lead conversion, and increased web traffic, B2B companies can be ready for the changing B2B buyer’s journey and the increased desire by customers for a more user-friendly experience. For more B2B marketing insights to guide your 2019 marketing plan, including budget and partnership trends, get a copy of the 2019 B2B Marketing Mix Report.