With the first quarter of 2018 behind us, we asked IAB B2B Committee members what the key trends for remainder 2018 will be for B2B marketing.
Two top B2B trends stood out from the insights that IAB members provided:
These two trends dovetail with a new normal at a macro level, that IAB calls the Direct Brand Economy, where digitally savvy brands, characterized by their direct connections to consumer fueled by data, are disrupting the business model of market-leading brands. This is leading to a new way of doing business which is applicable for both B2B and B2C brands. The direct brand economy rewards those brands that focus on user experience, story-telling, first-party data and building a two-way customer-business relationship, which are at the core of ABM. To enable many of the tactics that ABM requires, programmatic advertising is needed and well suited.
When applied well together, ABM and programmatic advertising, will deliver on the change of advertising from being an irrelevant interruption to providing relevant added-value for potential B2B customers. According to LinkedIn, “For B2B brands with fully implemented account-based marketing (ABM) methodologies, programmatic has proven to be an efficient way to identify and engage qualified prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle. “
Click on each headshot below to read individual IAB member Q1 insights from AdRoll, Crain, Dun & Bradstreet, Eyeota, Fast Company and Inc. Media, LinkedIn, MeritDirect, and Oracle Data Cloud:
In 2018 we’ll see B2B Marketers start to move past the exploration phase of ABM and into building out sophisticated cross channel programs that integrate with their CRM systems and allow them to see greater insight into the value of their investment in Account Based Marketing.
2018 will be a coming of age for B2B programmatic. More publishers will be making their inventory available with accessibility to rich data. Agencies will recognize the opportunity of B2B programmatic as a premium offering in a brand safe environment. Initiatives like ads.txt will start to exclude counterfeiters and bring that spend back to the publishers. Programmatic native and outstream video will surely increase in popularity. PMP’s will see continued growth as technology hurdles are overcome and both buyers and sellers become more educated.
We are going to see a significant growth in ABM campaigns and demand for custom B2B audience recommendations as businesses tackle the challenge of effectively reaching individual buyers and decision makers at scale. As programmatic intensifies and targeted ABM campaigns drive better performance and higher ROI, the pool of B2B data vendors will get more and more crowded. Vendors who look beyond traditional firmographic identities for both audience intelligence and targeting, and offer solutions that provide a 360-degree view of the audience, will take the lead.
I see verified data becoming a stronger point for how we differentiate our business offering in 2018.
Differentiating ourselves more esp. in programmatic through lifetime value proposition. There’s a premium to B2B marketing and significant ROI to be gained by marketers, thus should command a respectable CPM.
B2B Marketers will embrace Sales & Marketing alignment. First, by aligning on strategy. Sales thinks of accounts and individuals, whereas Marketing focuses on broader ‘target audiences’, so the rise of account based marketing poses an opportunity to drive strategic alignment. Second, by aligning on measurement. Vanity metrics, like clicks, are of no value to Sales and a poor way to measure marketing effectiveness. Marketing will embrace metrics traditionally associated with sales: deals closed, revenue generated. Finally, access to data is key. Marketing data should not end with the tech stack used; it needs to be connected to the Sales CRM.
Account based marketing (ABM) has grown and will continue to grow exponentially in 2018. At LinkedIn, we’re making a bet that the focus of ABM will be on marketing and sales optimization and coordination.
In marketing complex business solutions, ABM plays a key role in expanding business within existing customer accounts where, for example, wider industry marketing is not targeted enough to appeal to an existing customer (and it’s not uncommon for the initial sale to take several months).
Many B2B marketers report that ABM delivers an increase in the long-term value of the customer. ABM also can be applied to key prospect accounts in support of the first sale. The Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) shares the example of an aircraft engine manufacturing company that employed ABM to aid in the completion of a successful $2B deal, as well as the strategy used at a large energy company to drive a $24MM deal.Research demonstrates that buyers are looking for their existing suppliers to keep them updated with relevant propositions, but are often left disappointed.
Research also proves how much easier it is for organizations to generate more sales from existing customers than from new customers—77 percent of decision-makers say that marketing from new suppliers is poorly targeted, and makes it easy to justify staying with their current supplier.
By treating each account individually, ABM activity can be targeted more accurately to address the audience and is more likely to be considered relevant than untargeted direct marketing activity.
B2B marketers, whether they are advanced or just starting out will begin converging their investments in ad-tech and mar-tech resulting in a need for unified platforms, integrations and identity capabilities. The most successful B2B marketers will take an account based approach to their planning and strategy phases, not just in tactical execution. This allows for an approach that provides better alignment with the Sales functions but also with Service to define account based strategies based on Customer Satisfaction and Voice of Customer programs.