“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Times, they are a-changin’. Those of us in marketing know all too well how true this is. It’s okay, though—change is an essential part of growing. In marketing, especially, new innovations represent an organic shift in societal trends and preferences. We update our tactics because people evolve, and our goal is to reach them.
So, what’s on deck for B2B marketing in 2020? Let’s explore.
Why 2020 Will Be a Banner Year
Each new year, the promise of change dawns. We begin January bubbling with excitement over possibilities in the months ahead. And with a new decade kicking off, we’re more excited than ever about what the future may bring. Scientists and tech geeks have their predictions. In the marketing world, we expect to see exciting new developments, too. Okay, maybe not computer-as-smart-as-a-human-brain exciting, but still—cool nonetheless.
The shifting market will be driving much of the change. Boomers are aging out of the workforce and Millennials are taking over. Within six years, Millennials will make up three-fourths of the working population. In this mix, we’ll also have the eldest members of Gen Z, who were raised in the age of tech and the internet. Because of this, the old ways are dying out, and marketers who don’t adjust will be left behind in the dust.
New Decade, New Ideas
Think about marketing ten years ago. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Reading an old article on marketing predictions for 2010 gives us decent insight into how fast things move (Instagram didn’t even exist!). When we look back at this new decade in ten years’ time, we’ll probably express the same level of surprise at all the things we didn’t see coming.
The truth is, we’re already witnessing the beginning of many of the changes on the way. Over the past several years, B2B marketers and sales teams have lamented the way that the buyer’s journey has changed. Thanks to technology, buyers are now firmly in control of the process. As more Millennials and Gen Z employees join the workforce, this trend will only grow, especially as technology advances. New generations are cutting out the middleman when it comes to buying, both in B2C and B2B. Customers are completing 90% of the buyer’s journey before they even talk to you—meaning your digital efforts had better be stellar.
A 2018 Gartner study found that by 2020, 25% of all customer interactions will be through virtual assistants and chatbots, and 30 percent of all B2B companies will use AI in at least one of their primary sales processes. Buyers will come to expect these technological tools as they become more refined. As a result, 2020 and beyond will see a shift in the way we do business. The key for B2B marketers staying ahead is not just willingness to change, but having the agility to adjust to consumer expectations.
It’s All About the Customer Experience
Now that we're in 2020, B2B marketers should be thinking like B2C marketers. Why? In the next decade, more and more decision makers at companies will have grown up in the age of the internet. They’ll be sharp online researchers who will be accustomed to effective B2C marketing tactics, which in 2020 and beyond will rely on creating a great customer experience (CX).
The CX involves the impression a brand leaves on a customer, formed based on interactions during the customer’s lifecycle. What does this mean in the B2B space? To ensure that customers have a seamless, positive experience across the spectrum, provide consistent service through multiple touchpoints: in-store, via social media, on customer service calls, and with the sales team. Creating omnichannel campaigns shows a fundamental understanding of the customer journey and experience. In doing so, you give customers the chance to connect with your brand in multiple places, with the ability to pick up where they left off with ease.
Video Becomes the Marketing Star
Video has been a rising star over the past several years, and experts say it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. Here are some of the reasons why, according to Social Media Today:
- 72% of customers prefer learning about a product or service through a video.
- Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it through video.
- Users spend 88% more time browsing on websites that have videos.
- Placing videos on landing pages will increase conversion by more than 80%.
- Integrating a video on your website makes it 53 times more likely to reach Google’s front page.
Treat video marketing as you would any other marketing endeavor, and make 2020 the year you embrace video. Start by outlining your goals and strategy. To really cater to the CX, you’ll need to clearly define your customers, map out their buying stages and the touchpoints that will fit into each one, and then create video content around that. To produce quality videos, find a creative partner who can really help your company shine (ahem *clears throat*: creating video content for each stage of the buyer’s journey is kind of our thing).
What else will change over the course of this new decade? Only time will tell. We’ll mark our calendars to come back to this post and shake our heads at the things we never saw coming. The future is now, and we can’t wait to see what awaits us.