In 2016, B2B marketers said increasing brand awareness and dealing with budget constraints were the top challenges they faced. In 2017, customer experience was the buzzword (and thorn in B2B marketer's side). Now with the end of the year quickly approaching, we wanted to know what's in store for B2B marketers in 2018?

So we asked them. And 10 B2B Marketing Experts were kind enough to let us pick their brains.

If you’re curious like us, wondering how B2B marketers are adapting to challenges facing their industries, and exactly which marketing trends they think are here to stay for 2018 and which are just a passing craze, you’re in luck my friend.

Let’s hear what they had to say, shall we?

This blog post is part of "Your Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing" blog series.

 

 

Scott Brinker The biggest challenge for every marketer is to stand out 

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Show me Your Credentials


Challenge

The biggest challenge for every marketer is to stand out in the cacophony that is today's digital world.

 

How to Adapt

Producing more content is not the answer. Creating something remarkable that truly connects with the right audience in an authentic and meaningful way is the only way through the noise. Create a remarkable customer experience.

 

Here to Stay

Chatbots are here to stay in 2018 — and are going to grow like gangbusters. With the explosion of messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant, Slack, website chatbots, etc., this is quickly becoming the preferred way for prospects and customers to find the answers they want instead of having to hunt through your website.

 

Send It On Its Way

Snapchat Spectacles.

 

 

Aaron Cort The biggest challenge in our industry is channel saturation

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • Founder & CEO of B2B tech company, BoundHound
  • Founder & CEO of Never Peak Media, digital marketing agency
  • Master of LinkedIn Marketing

Challenge

The biggest challenge in our industry is channel saturation; most channels are bombarded with marketers and the target market will still respond, however, often times it won't be as favorable as it once was.

 

How to Adapt

Adapting will be innovation to the approach on 1) the saturated channels in things like copy, angle, etc. and 2) the channels itself and experimenting with new ones constantly, LinkedIn currently being my personal favorite.

 

Here to Stay

A content heavy, relationship-based form of marketing/selling. It's very rare that there is a brand new product/service in the B2B tech industry, so differentiating yours will come down to 1) how much value you can provide to a market beforehand and 2) how well you can connect and built a relationship either through content, direct outreach or both.

 

Send It On Its Way

One trend I don't see thriving in 2018 in Facebook advertising. I think it's starting to be less effective in the B2B tech industry. In my experience, the market is less on there for generating new business and more so is better for building an audience.

 

 

Doug Kessler Bring together key data sources into one clear picture 

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Show me Your Credentials

  • Creative Director & Co-Founder at Velocity Partners Ltd, B2B content marketing agency
  • 30+ years of B2B marketing experience
  • Content marketing junkie with a secret passion for analytics

Challenge

Sounds boring but the biggest and most important challenge in B2B tech marketing right now is to bring together the key data sources into one clear picture of each customer, target account and prospect. Today, with data locked up in silos called CRM, Marketing Automation and Web Analytics (for starters), demand gen teams can’t see whole customer journeys; can’t see what’s working; can’t see the contribution of content to pipeline.

 

How to Adapt

Bringing these data sources together into one view makes a lot of cool things possible. Leaving the data in silos isn’t really a sustainable option.

 

Here to Stay

Data-driven decision-making is a current trend that is here to stay. The hunch-monkeys have ruled the discipline for too long. Dumb arguments about things that should never be subjective are a bore. In smart B2B tech marketing teams, the data wins. That doesn’t mean creativity and inspiration aren’t critical. Just that they’re manifestations are testable.

 

Send It On Its Way

As for trends that that passing crazes, Facebook live video will find its place in the marketing mix. But for most brands, it won’t be central. Also cat/piano videos. So 2016. But cat/ukulele videos? Hot.

 

 

Ann Handley Identify and articulate your differentiated brand story

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Show me Your Credentials

  • Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs
  • Pioneer of digital marketing
  • Forbe's most influential woman in Social Media
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Challenge

From the point of view of a CMO, there are three big challenges in our industry:

  1. Identifying and articulating your differentiated brand story, and then telling it consistently and telling it well across all channels. (Both of those adverbs ("consistently," "well") are key.

  2. Saying no. Figuring out what NOT TO DO is as important as embracing what TO DO.

  3. Getting the necessary training for your team to keep them current, relevant, motivated. Marketing is changing fast. A big challenge is making sure you and your team keep pace, so that you can execute on #1 and #2, above!


How to Adapt

Of course, the biggest challenges are also the biggest opportunities. So that's where I'd focus my time and energy as we roll into 2018.

 

 

Liliana Ciurlino Speak to their fears and address their concerns

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • Technology & Marketing Engagement Specialist at Managed Solution
  • 15 years of marketing experience
  • Award-winning Marketing Strategist & Consultant

Challenge

One of the challenges in this [B2B Tech] industry is that many companies do not want to adopt or invest in technology. It is easier to market to companies who find value in leveraging technology. The challenge is converting anyone to grasp and understand how technology can propel their businesses forward.

 

How to Adapt

In order to break into these markets we need to speak to their fears and address their concerns. As a Microsoft Certified Facilitator, I present Customer Immersion Experiences across Southern California and engage companies to play with software, obtain free trial access and create a continuous dialogue regarding best practices as we take a deep dive into the challenges they face on a daily basis. When the light bulbs go off in their heads after they interact with their staff in a new way after experiencing software and they see the benefits, the technology simply sells itself.

 

Here to Stay

One trend I see continuing to grow in 2018 is Augmented Reality.

 

Send It On Its Way

I see retargeted Pop Up Ads as a dying trend as we move into the new year.

 

looking for a way to build relationships with your prospects? Get started with your free How To Create a Lead Nurturing Campaign [guide].

 

Fabrice Gould You will succeed when you understand your ideal buyer persona(s)

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • Founder & CEO at Diggen, a marketing integration platform
  • Built 6 B2B ventures, primarily in marketing and local search space
  • DBA, Creating New Markets with Disruptive Innovation
  • Cofounder and Board Member, Startup San Diego

Challenge

Currently, due to an ever growing pool of tools and solutions, one of the greatest challenges marketers in smaller businesses have is cutting past the noise to understand what is important and practical in driving value. Enterprises have the budget and time to be early adopters for experimenting with new concepts, but others require a proven return on investment.

The article you read last week about a popular brand in your industry implementing a sexy new technology might be alluring, but they are frequently not a good fit for most businesses.

 

How to Adapt

I frequently reference the Lean Startup methodology of iterating quickly through the feedback loop of Build, Measure, and Learn. It’s a great approach to test and figure out what performs.

 

Here to Stay

At the macro level we are still in the midst of the digital transformation of business. A component of this transition is data transformation, which predictably helps to drive growth. Any size business in any industry can benefit from data when applied appropriately.

Building a foundation of data for your business creates a valuable byproduct of a core strategic asset. While it requires planning, governance, and support, it makes it easier to adapt to marketing and sales capabilities. Data is not only a trend to stay in 2018, but it is the future of your business.

Every year there are popular trends fading in the following year. Yet many businesses choose to pursue the perceived value. While it helps to keep abreast of current trends for education purposes, it is unfortunately not worth adopting. Go back to the basics. You will succeed when you understand your ideal buy persona(s), what is important to them, and where to engage with them. Each business is unique, but the most common channels are still the most beneficial, such as email and social.

 

Send It On Its Way

I hope “trends” are the passing craze!

 

 

Reid Carr ABM can help better align marketing with sales and vice versa

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • 20 years experience in multi-channel, integrated marketing
  • President & CEO at Red Door Interactive, one of the largest independent agencies in the country
  • Ted-X Speaker

Challenge

The promise of data continues to be a challenge. There is a big gap between what people expect big data, analytics, and business intelligence to do for them and what they’re actually getting right now. One of the biggest causes for this problem is at the most basic level of how people gather that data, support their systems, and respect their data collection processes.

 

How to Adapt

So, we are trying to help clients at that level: Understand what decisions they need to make and why; then, help them craft deliberate processes by which they will collect and manage that data so they can make decisions at the right moments in time to make meaningful impact on the business.

 

Here to Stay

Account-based marketing. I believe that ABM can help better align marketing with sales and vice versa like never before. There is so much that goes into ABM and it is far more complex than many people realize. I think that is partly because it is such a simple concept to understand, however it is not that easy to execute it well.

So, I think that ABM will remain as a trend in part because it takes a while to implement it and see positive results from it. There will be people who are unsuccessful or abuse the power of ABM, but I think that enough people will clean up their methods to make it work for them such that it will catch on in the years ahead.

 

Send It On Its Way

Social media as an isolated tactic. A lot of brands, for a time, could produce good content on the major channels and have a successful “social presence”. Now, social has gotten a lot more complex, chaotic, and largely pay-to-play. Social is still a viable channel, but it is far more complex than it once was and requires a media strategy to activate a social strategy.

 

 

Nicole Pereira Event marketing will continue to deliver results

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • Co-Founder & CMO at Campaign Creators, a conversion marketing agency
  • Co-leader of the largest HubSpot User Group in the world
  • Ranked as a top ten HubSpot Power User

Challenge

B2B companies are being challenged to differentiate in order to set them apart from their competition.

 

How to Adapt

Offering a huge set of services is synonymous with mediocrity, so B2B companies that want to really make the next jump in their growth will need to niche.

 

Here to Stay

I feel event marketing will continue to deliver results. B2B is still a high touch industry and running an event can easily accelerate a lead in their buyer's journey.

 

Send It On Its Way

For B2B I feel messenger marketing and chat systems will soon prove to be ineffective. These tools work REALLY WELL for customer service but are seemingly lack luster as the first human touch with an organization.

 

 

John Lincoln Trends that seem to be dying off are Snapchat, Google Plus and the smaller social sites

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • CEO at Ignite Visibility
  • 15+ years of marketing industry experience
  • 2017 Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year"

Challenge

The biggest challenge in my industry is clear. There are now hundreds of ways to spend your advertising budget, so how do you decide what is the most effective option? In paid media alone, there are 10 new ways to advertise popping up each week! So as a CMO, business owner or marketing manager, how can you possibly evaluate all the options.

 

How to Adapt

I see the digital marketing strategy field exploding over the next 5 years. Also, analytical analysis and conversion rate optimization companies will be important. Ignite is way ahead of this and we have programs in place that allow clients to take full advantage of the marketing mediums that will provide the biggest return.

For the marketer, they need to be very careful not to be sold old marketing services that are not effective. They also need to watch out for things that are too new and not yet proven. Digital strategy is key and that is where my mine focus in. I personally study and evaluate daily.

 

Here to Stay

The trend that is really working now is defining each goal and which people you need to interact with. You would actually buy a list of these exact people and create a specific strategy to reach them on each platform. Perhaps you run ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. and also interact with them on a one to one basis on there platforms. For B2B this is the best method. The trick is you need to hire a company that can help you do it at scale.

 

Send It On Its Way

Some trends that seem to be dying off are Snapchat, Google Plus and the smaller social sites; I'm not seeing a lot of value in them. Twitter is great for relationship building, but not getting a big return for eCommerce. Watch out for this and new ad platforms that are half baked, such as Snapchat Ads, Pinterest Ads and more.

 

 

William Leborgne One trend that had far too much hype was chatbots

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Show Me Your Credentials

  • Sr. Content Marketing Manager at MomentFeed, B2B Tech company
  • 10 years of marketing experience
  • Forged bold strategies for some of the world’s biggest brands (Panasonic, Universal Music and Canon)

Challenge

The biggest challenges in our industry is the constant evolution of the major networks (Google, Facebook, Yelp, Snapchat, Bing, Apple) and the difficulties this presents in educating and empowering our clients. These networks are all combatting for users attention, therefore they are at the cutting edge of mobile trends across social media, paid, reputation management and location management. For retailers and restaurant brands these changes feel too fast and too numerous.

 

How to Adapt

It’s our job to help them navigate them to ultimately attract more customers.

 

Here to Stay

The B2B market is constantly evolving and methods of attracting new customers with it. I would say the most important trend is the growing importance of building trust through a brands digital profile, social personality and content. It’s not enough that the sales rep they talk to appears trustworthy. They also need the trust building corroboration of case studies, webinars, social media/influencer recommendations, etc…

 

Send It On Its Way

I wouldn’t say this is entirely a passing craze as it has the chance to still come to fruition, but one trend that had far too much hype was chatbots. These have proven to not truly be up to the task and has shown itself to be less than a valid tool for sales/customer retention. We wrote briefly about this in our article on Facebook Messenger.

 

 

B2B Marketing Challenges, Adaptations and Trends for 2018 (in a nutshell)

Differentiation in a highly competitive markets across channels that are over-saturated continues to prove a major challenge for B2B marketers. To adapt in 2018 marketers need to identify and articulate their differentiated brand story, find their niche, and focus on connecting and building relationships with their target personas.

When it comes to trends - it was unanimous that data-driven decision making is here to stay, with ABM and event marketing proving a good fit for the high-touch needs of B2B. When it comes to chatbots - the jury is still out, with some marketers embracing the trend and others skeptical of the hype. 

As far as passing trends go, I think we can all agree that the ship has sailed on SnapChat as a viable B2B channel (so it may be time to list those SnapChat spectacles you bought a few years ago on eBay).

 

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What do you believe are the challenges, growing trends, and passing crazes for B2B marketing as we head into 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

If you are looking for a way to build relationships with your prospects, speed up your sales cycle and lower you cost of customer acquisition then a lead nurturing campaign is your ticket! Get started with your free How To Create a Lead Nurturing Campaign [guide].

 

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