The Evolution of B2B Marketing | Outbrain Blog

CONTENT MARKETING & DISCOVERY

The Evolution of B2B Marketing in 2016 and Beyond

| Daniel Tolliday

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Recently, the 2016 Green Hat/ADMA B2B Marketing Outlook Report was published for the sixth consecutive year. It reveals some very fascinating insights about how B2B marketing is set to evolve; not only this year – but also in the years to come.

As B2B marketing budgets continue to rise, outbound marketing is becoming a tactic of the past, while sales and marketing teams still have trouble finding a common ground.

The report highlights the behaviors of best-in-class marketers across many areas including marketing automation, analytics and measurement, B2B social media and more.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at each of these key areas and showcase video insights from a panel of B2B marketing experts who joined forces to debate these all-important topics.

1. Content Marketing: Hitting Its Peak or Still Going Strong?

According to the B2B Marketing Outlook Report, 77% of B2B marketers consider content marketing as a significant or very significant factor in their B2B marketing efforts. This is no surprise considering the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs noted that B2B marketers plan to allocate a staggering 28% of their total marketing budget towards content marketing in 2016.

Interestingly, 2016 will also see videos/animations, case studies and short articles used more frequently; as podcasts, white papers and long articles decline in use.

ContentTrends_GreenHat_Outbrain

(Caption: 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report)

Key Content Marketing Recommendation: With only 35% of B2B marketers having a documented content strategy, there has never been a better time for recording your content strategies while remembering to use a content calendar for planning your editorial.

2. Social Media: LinkedIn Dominating the B2B Space

As you would expect, LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media platform for B2B marketers (86%). However, Facebook and Twitter (56% respectively) are both slowly gaining traction, as marketers continue exploring new ways to optimize these channels.

SocialMediaPlatforms_GreenHat_Outbrain

(Caption: 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report)

Another interesting conclusion is that 65% of B2B marketers are either unsure about their social media ROI or are yet to achieve it – with only 5% reporting a ‘very satisfied’ return on investment from their social media marketing efforts.

Key Social Media Recommendation: If you’re a B2B organization and you’re not using LinkedIn – you are missing out. There are a multitude of ways to use this channel; from creating LinkedIn groups to publishing content on Pulse and driving targeted traffic to your main website through company pages.

3. Marketing Automation: Usage Continues to Increase

The big news from the research report regarding marketing automation is that Marketo is the go-to platform for B2B marketing professionals. In fact, 10% of all respondents say they’re using this platform, followed by HubSpot (6%), with SalesForce/Pardot and Oracle Eloqua each on 5%.

MarketingAutomation_GreenHat_Outbrain

(Caption: 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report)

Marketing automation is becoming an increasingly important part of improving lead generation and lead nurturing for B2B companies, with 61% of respondents saying this is a significant benefit.

Key Marketing Automation Recommendation: Traditionally, IT departments within B2B organizations would handle the implementation of marketing automation platforms; but this needs to change. Marketers need to understand the processes involved, to enable your organization to get the most out of automation.

4. Sales and Marketing: Alignment Drives Revenue

Although 40% of the report’s participants say B2B marketing budgets are set to increase, only 36% of B2B marketers have said that leads passed from marketing to sales are actually followed up by sales teams.

LeadConversion_GreenHat_Outbrain

(Caption: 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report)

However, 31% say less than one-third of leads passed from marketing to sales convert to orders, signifying the importance of sales and marketing alignment.

Key Sales and Marketing Alignment Recommendation: All of the data points to one very significant conclusion; B2B marketing and sales teams must join forces, collaborate and listen to each other in order to drive long-term revenue growth for B2B organizations.

5. Inbound Marketing: Spending to Surge

In 2015, the B2B Marketing Outlook Report found that 42% of respondents are developing audience personas – and this remained the same for 2016. However, with 77% of participants embracing the importance of content marketing, you would’ve expected to see an increase in this number, as inbound marketing strategies become increasingly important.

InboundOutbound_GreenHat_Outbrain

(Caption: 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report)

Nevertheless, the report also found that expenditure on inbound marketing will continue its rise – as it has done in recent years – with no signs of slowing down.

Key Inbound Marketing Recommendation: If your organization is still flirting with the idea of inbound marketing – it is vital that adoption occurs as soon as possible. Expected growth in this area will continue rising as it has done throughout the last six years.

The Final Word

Perhaps the key takeaway from the B2B Marketing Outlook Report (which can be downloaded here) is that content marketing will play a pivotal role in B2B marketing strategies for many years to come – with content distribution likely becoming a key challenge facing those in the B2B space.

Putting the right content in front of the right audience (at the right time) has never been more important. Find out more about how you can amplify your content and reach your target audience in new ways.

Hitting "Publish" is only The Beginning!

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Daniel Tolliday

Daniel Tolliday

Daniel Tolliday is the Content and Inbound Manager at Green Hat, a B2B digital marketing agency in Melbourne, Australia. He... Read more

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