B2B demand generation campaigns will become more sophisticated in 2016, and data science will be behind the best of these initiatives. As targeting has become much more accurate, B2B marketers are using data more intelligently and this shrewdness will inform many of the major breakthroughs this year. Expect to see more B2B marketers investing in better data analysis and skills in order to take advantage of the new opportunities available, including social and programmatic.
Information from social media platforms has opened the door to new marketing opportunities in the B2C space and this is catching on in B2B. Social media platforms are emerging as demand generation tools, and social listening is becoming meaningful to B2B marketers who are looking to identify prospects based on social behavior and buying intent.
According to Demand Gen Report’s 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report, 55 percent of B2B buyers rely more on peer recommendations when selecting vendors than they did a year ago, and 53 percent spend more time using social media to research vendors and solutions. Eighty-three percent of marketing teams use social media as part of their overall marketing strategy, and 77 percent expect to spend more time on social media marketing in the next year, according to the 2015 Social Media Benchmarking Report from Circle Research. Expect B2B marketers to move beyond LinkedIn and Twitter and adopting tools like Instagram and Snapchat.
Social media offers B2B companies an opportunity to connect with these prospects and put a face to their brand. A B2B marketer’s social personality gives their business a human voice on social networks, making it essential that all employees are on board with this character. B2B marketers can use social media to put the human face on their firm by spotlighting customers, interviewing employees and associating with key influencers. It’s important for marketers to be authentic and to respect the needs and preferences of their communities.
Data is at the heart of social and CRM as B2B marketers are improving the workflow of marketing and sales departments by incorporating sales teams into social media marketing programs. As the marketing team attracts the prospects, sales can then continue the conversation through social platforms until it moves to email and a CRM system to track all the conversation through to conversion. While social success measurement comes in KPIs such as comments, shares, and retweets, some B2B marketers analyzing these insights alongside data in their marketing automation and CRM tools. Still, the big challenge for B2B marketers is to integrate metrics and track leads and sales across the customer lifecycle.
Programmatic also presents a great opportunity for B2B marketers, if they can overcome some of the hurdles which have kept B2B marketers from the channel. While 62 percent of B2C marketers use programmatic buying, almost half of B2B marketers don’t even know what it is. Several massive gaps have led to this disconnect. Judy Shapiro, CEO and founder of social marketing engagement company EngageSimply, thinks that there are several ways to overcome these issues including overcoming the CPM/CPA performance divide. These metrics often don’t fit well into a business marketer’s program and require lots of coordination between uncoordinated platforms and networks. Shapiro suggests establishing new KPIs, like cost per visitors, rather than relying on clicks and likes.
Content marketing is also slowing down the process for programmatic adoption. While B2B marketers rely on white papers, case studies, webinars and the like, content creation platforms are not connected to buying platforms, making it chaotic to connect. To overcome these issues, B2B marketers must integrate content-based data with ad-buying capabilities. While B2B marketers often don’t have the scale issues that B2C marketers face, programmatic offers the opportunity to automate and optimize campaigns.
Data is making it possible for B2B marketers to have more sophisticated demand generation campaigns by understanding cross-platform and cross-device consumption habits and integrating this into marketing and sales. 2016 promises to be a year of innovation in personalized communications from B2B marketers.
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