5 2015 Predictions Only a B2B Marketer Would Care About

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It is that time of year again. The time when predictions of the obvious abound and resolutions are quickly broken.

I’ll spare you my New Year’s resolutions (well, most of them at least, read on). Instead, here are my five B2B marketing predictions for 2015.

1. Predictive Marketing Goes Mainstream

Predictive marketing is already a hot space, but it hasn’t hit its mainstream stride yet as a solution for B2B marketers to segment and prioritize leads for marketing and sales. In 2015, that will change. Predictive marketing solutions like Lattice Engines, Mintigo or 6sense will move beyond the biggest marketers and earliest adopters and will be nearly as common as marketing automation among mid-sized and large enterprise B2B marketers.

As they enter the mainstream, predictive marketing companies will also become acquisition targets. Look for one of the “marketing cloud” companies (i.e. Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce) to acquire one of today’s predictive marketing companies in 2015.

2. Speed Is Crowned King

Content has lost its crown, it is no longer the great difference maker. Context never owned it. In 2015, the winners will have the agility of the smallest marketers and the get it done capacity of the largest.

Marketers that succeed will be the ones that strive to move as quickly as their audience. They will use what they are learning from marketing performance and what is happening in the world right now to communicate in ways that are uniquely impactful and relevant right now.

Watch for terms like growth hacking and agile marketing to become more popular in the B2B marketing space in 2015.

3. Influencers Bite Marketers

Influencer marketing may be hot, but many B2B marketers aren’t ready for the heat. They are still talking about themselves and not willing to acknowledge just how undifferentiated, or even behind, their offering is. Influencers will see through the marketing pitch and turn on companies that treat them like mouthpieces for hire, exposing shortcomings in their product or in how they are being treated.

And remember, these are the same people you are wooing because of their influence with our audience. That means the bite will hurt. Ouch.

I had a taste of this last year when a company asked me to sign an agreement saying I would not publish anything negative about them, in exchange for an advanced preview of their offering. I declined to sign the agreement.

4. B2B Marketers Embrace Clickbait

If your marketing can’t deliver traffic, it can’t deliver leads and sales. And so, we’ve come full circle, back to the days when dot-bust companies touted eyeballs as the measure of their value.

In the drive for pageviews and social shares, marketers will run to clickbait in an attempt to “optimize” their program. The drive to move faster (see #2) will just make the problem worse. Watch for headlines like “you won’t believe,” “the one thing” and “don’t want you to know” to migrate from classic clickbait sites and spammy ads to mainstream B2B marketers you never would have expected it from a year ago.

Next year, we will be talking about a return to straight forward communication and focusing on reaching the right audience with a mutually beneficial premise. Hopefully you will get there a year ahead of schedule.

5. Customer Experience Rises to Prominence

As marketers, all the outbound communication we painstakingly plan, implement and measure has a small impact once someone uses our product or engages with sales or service. That real, hands-on experience trumps, overriding both positive and negative perceptions we had formed.

2015 will (finally) be the year marketing wakes up to the importance of the total customer experience, not just the experience we shape as part of a marketing program. This experience, not a communication program, is what will drive advocacy (ok, that’s a bonus #6).

And One Resolution

Ok, I said I would spare you all but one New Year’s resolution, so here it is: write more, particularly here on this blog, than I did in 2014. I published 19 times here last year, down from 70+ in 2013 (and even more in years prior). So the good news (for me): at least I haven’t set my target all that high. If there is something you’d like to see me cover here, send me an email at eric at b2bdigital.net.

Photo credit: alexkerhead via Flickr

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  • http://getlittlebird.com carmenhill

    Great to see you writing again, Eric! Smart thinking, as usual. While you’re at it, how about adding a resolution to get more #socialwednesdays on the calendar this year ;)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Resolution made. :-) Thanks Carmen!

  • Sonal Sharma

    Good points Eric! I believe that marketers, especially startups and small & medium enterprise (with small ad budget) will increasingly use Influencers to promote their product / brands online. This is a very cost effective way to get maximum visibility is using right influencers along with right content. I know many influencers (facebook, twitter, youtube, blogs, pinterest etc.) who are promoting brands in a big way, and facebook’s new policy has give a little extra boost to this segment. It will be interesting to see how influencer marketing will take shape in future.

    Thankfully, finding influencers has become easy with platforms like fromote (search google with exact phrase) an influencer marketing platform which helps brands to find and engage influencers to promote their brands on social media. Brands get targeted reach and influencers make money from their postings!

  • PecosMike

    Brilliant perspective. Dead on accurate.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Wow, thanks!

  • http://net-results.com Michael Shearer

    I’d love to read more on your perspective regarding “influencers bite marketers”. What does a B2B company need to do to make sure that they’re delivering the right stuff that will reflect well on influencers promoting them.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Michael. This might be a good topic for an entire article, but to get it started: recognize influence is a result, in part, of independence. If someone has real influence and they value that influence, they will look to protect it. That means, among other things, they won’t say something they don’t believe in, and they won’t accept a marketing claim as reason to believe.

      You need to be ready to dig deep to show influencers what you are offering the market, without the spin. Be realistic about what’s different (and what isn’t) in our offering. Back off on the spin and then let them come to and share their own conclusion.

      If you have confidence in your offering and are willing to let it stand on its strength, you will be ok. If you feel a need to “control” the influencer community you are relying on, look out.

      • http://net-results.com Michael Shearer

        Thanks for the reply. I have no fear that what we are offering in terms of product (established with existing quality) and content (valuable, authentic) are good. It’s learning how to reach and participate with influencers in the proper manner that I’m trying to wrap my head around. Adding your blog to my feedly. Thanks!

  • http://www.docalytics.com/ Steve Peck

    Happy to have your insights back in my inbox, and as always your candid observations definitely opened my eyes to some new perspectives an where things are / are heading. Keep those perspectives coming!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Steve, good to hear from you again as well!

  • Daniel Hews

    Thanks Eric, great article. Certainly feels right looking at my year ahead. Looking forward to more insights.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks!

  • Ben Tomaszewski

    Re: #4) As a b2b marketer, if your sole focus is only to get your content more views, clicks, & shares, you’re falling behind rapidly.

    Smart b2b marketers will look beyond the click in 2015. They will leverage 1st & 3rd party data to amplify content to their known audiences and will implement attribution models around engagement metrics that tie back to concrete business goals (e.g. Revenue generation). The tools to do this already exist and are maturing rapidly.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Ben, I agree clicks and page views aren’t nearly enough, and optimizing for them can be counter productive. However I don’t think we will see widespread adoption like you’ve referenced. It will still be dabbling and testing, and it will continue to be constrained by some of the other technology systems that still drive performance measurement in many B2B organizations.

      That said, I hope you are correct and I completely whiff on this prediction. :)

  • http://adaptgather.com/ Andrew Nhem

    I hope that #5 is rooted in building a customer experience for the sake of the customer, and not because marketing technology has a bunch of “boxes to fill.” The customer experience requires quite an investment in not only content, but also user research and the willingness to continue validating assumptions and insights gained from previous iterations of research.

    Otherwise, sick post, man. :D -J

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks J!

      How’s this: experience isn’t just about technology. Thanks for the addition!

  • Guest

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    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

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  • http://www.seraphscience.com/ Tom Whatley

    Nice to see some predictions focused on B2B, Eric. Your point on “clickbait” is interesting, namely because I understand clickbait to be a carrot dangling in front of often mediocre content. What you describe, however, is definitely the right way to go about it in a B2B world – as long as the promise given is really delivered.

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