The thing about marketing trends, particularly for B2B marketers, is that they change frequently. If you don’t stay on top of them, you risk missing out on serious potential for revenue growth and customer acquisition.
So what’s hot these days? What do you need to pay attention to and learn to embrace? Recently, I interviewed several industry leaders to see what they consider to be the most significant marketing trends happening right now.
We’re getting down to creepy levels of personalization
Just a few years ago, personalization in marketing meant customizing an email to address the recipient by name. Brandi Smith, VP of demand generation marketing at Uberflip, says we’ve come a long way since then. Account-based marketing (ABM) and technology are being used to dive deep into an audience base to deliver highly personalized content, especially for B2B marketers.
Smith says, “We can creep their social profiles to see what information is hot and trending to them, we can look at their company’s annual reports, and look at the footnotes or just the content in general to find out what might actually be a key focus in a key directive for their business moving into the new fiscal year.”
It’s necessary, she says, to use tools like artificial intelligence in meaningful ways to create a personal experience without the customer feeling like the company has crossed a line into creepy.
Nissar Ahamed, senior director of demand generation at Atomic Reach, agrees with Smith. “There’s too much noise, which makes it more difficult and also more expensive to create content that hits the mark and converts,” he says. And that’s why, according to Ahamed, hyper-personalized content based on the buyer’s journey, demographics, location, etc., make for much more effective marketing. He cites the example of emails that Amazon sends: no two are the same because they’re based on a shopper’s past history, profile, and demographics.
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Ahamed encourages marketers to invest in tools and automation that can help personalize content in a meaningful and relevant way.
Email marketing is making a comeback
Though we’ve heard this claim already, “email marketing is just as effective today as before,” says Ahamed. That’s due, he says, to the fact that it’s become more integrated with content marketing to build audiences. As algorithms and advertising policies change on social media, it has become more difficult to own an audience there.
Meanwhile, reliable email marketing offers distribution and the ability to build an audience through an established and proven channel.
Content is becoming increasingly interactive
Content marketing certainly isn’t a trend; it’s here to stay, but its delivery and consumption continue to evolve.
Gaurav Harode, founder and CEO of Enablix, sees that content is becoming more and more interactive. “So, right now we have static content, maybe some web content and video. But I think there is going to be a middle ground where there are going to be a lot of platforms and a lot of flexibility where content is going to be interactive,” he says.
One example Harode gives is calculators that businesses use to attract leads. You can use these calculators to calculate ROI, auto or home loan payments, and more. But what’s less obvious is these are interactive content tools designed to drive business to a company.
Ahamed concurs: “Content is no longer a siloed department within marketing.” He says it’s now a cross-team function, and he also sees more integration of content in other aspects of marketing, sales, and other departments.
AI is no longer a mysterious black box
Ahamed also says that 2019 is going to be the year of heavy exploration and implementation of artificial intelligence for brands. He believes that as companies of every size start to realize that AI isn’t there to replace humans and jobs—that it is, in fact, there to augment and complement those roles—more brands will adopt AI in innovative ways through marketing.
Chatbots are going to take charge this year
Smith also sees that chatbots are going to increase their presence in 2019. In fact, 35% of consumers would interact with one to resolve a complaint or problem, and 33% would use one to make a reservation at a restaurant or hotel.
There are plenty of marketing functions chatbots can serve, from directing a website visitor to a particular product, color, and size to offering instantly redeemable coupons. And as more brands find proven success with chatbots, we’ll see an increase in adoption as well as inspiration for how to use them to reach an audience.
If you’re serious about reaching your customers on their terms, pay attention to these trends. While they may evolve (or even disappear completely) over time, right now they are an effective means to build a real and sustainable relationship with your audience.