As another year passes, it’s time to look at the hottest marketing trends of 2019 moving into the new decade and what implications they have for 2020. Sky Cassidy, CEO of Mountain Top Data and co-host of the “If You Market” podcast, reflects on the hottest B2B trends of 2019 seen through the eyes of his expert guests.
Here are four key marketing tactics rose to the top as the best strategies most likely to continue that B2B marketers should employ in 2020.
The Video Trend
In 2018, according to Wyzowl statistics, 63% of business were using video marketing¾out of those 82% of businesses felt it was important to their strategy and 83% reported good ROI from their video marketing efforts.1 The popularity of video likely increased in 2019 and is sure to continue an upward trend in 2020.
However, according to Sky Cassidy, “Video can come in all shapes and sizes, everything from 10 second advertising GIFs to hour long content videos. Moving into 2020. Viewers will be more selective and savvier than ever. There is a saturation of video so quality content is key, also it’s important that video content is targeted and engages them personally and on a visceral level. Videos should educate, entertain, inform and inspire people. There is a real danger that viewer will be desensitized to video in 2020 and video that does not need to be video will increasingly be seen as a gimmick.”
According to many of Sky’s guests on the podcast, content marketing will grow even more popular in 2020. As one guest put it, “People have been so bombarded with slogans and advertising messages over the years that they’ve lost trust. Powerful content, especially given by experts of any given field, has premium value today. Compelling content generates trust that leads to eventual sales. Like video though, content in general has reached a saturation point so providing real value to a targeted audience is key.”
What makes “compelling content?” The title of a book of another of Sky’s guests, Randy Frisch, says it all: “F#ck Content Marketing, Focus on Content Experience.” Said differently, content for the sake of content isn’t enough. Whether it be video, audio, or the written word, you must create a moving experience for the prospect. In 2020 it will be the personal interactive experience that the customer has with your content that will make your content compelling enough to rise to the top. B2B marketing messages are often cookie cutter and don’t steer the buyer to the next logical step in the funnel, which is either the close, or a step away. If your content is experiential and engages your audience on a deeper level, then your marketing message has that much more impact. Smart B2B marketers will find ways to give their audience a better content experience at every stage of the buyer’s journey in 2020.
One of the best and fastest growing methods to deliver a great experience to your prospects with content marketing is to start your own podcast. Nearly a quarter of all podcast listeners have gotten started in the last six months. What’s more, 51% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 has listened to a podcast.2
Sales and Marketing Funnels
As in 2019, it is believed that sales and marketing funnels are likely to continue to merge in 2020, again, making the buyer’s journey more personal. As Laura Patterson of Vision Edge described it in an “If You Market” podcast, “Because business buys are generally more complex than B2C interactions, the buyer’s journey with B2B is even more important than that of B2C. The purchases often involve consultations and coordination with representatives and sales personal, rather than, say, just adding things to your cart in a grocery store.”
Last year the number of B2B buyers that said they found interacting with a sales representative superior to gathering information on their own was slightly higher. Although even more transactions should close digitally in 2020 than prior years, the merging of a sales representative with digital should also increase. This trend should cue sellers to look at ways of increasing their product or service value through more involvement with a live person on transactions.3 A big part of the merging of the funnel will be the increased value of being more personal and more human. As automated interactions increase human interaction will become even more important.
Product Centric to Consumer Centric
Product Centric marketing focuses on the seller’s product. Consumer Centric Marketing focuses on the seller’s customer’s needs and wants. Given that presenting the customer with a good experience is desirable it naturally follows that Consumer Centric is the preferred marketing method in 2020. As Laura Hall, senior manager of marketing communications and content at SalesLoft, said in an “If You Market,” podcast, “You want to create consumer centric content that aligns with your overall message and your mission and helps your target audience, your readers, accomplish their goals because you’re really there to help them achieve something that they want or they need.” Creating products and content that delivers what customers need and want will obviously contribute to a pleasurable experience for prospects. As verticals mature they commoditize and customer experience and addressing the customers direct needs becomes the focus. This is happening in the MarTech space right now and will be a big trend in 2020 B2B marketing