5 2015 Predictions Only a B2B Marketer Would Care About

binoculars
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

One change that dramatically improved B2B marketing results

Slice of a TractorYou can’t rely on your own data.

Your prospects spend the vast majority of their time doing everything except opening your emails, visiting your site or viewing your content.

Despite the magic of marketing automation and the ability to collect information on every mouse movement on every page of our sites, we only get a tiny window into the lives of our prospects. And that tiny window can turn out to be very misleading. [Read more...]

What Online Marketers Know About You

Rubble
According to many in the digital advertising industry, at some point in the future digital marketing will be so targeted that consumers will want to see the ads. Advertising will tell us about the products we want to know about, give us a direct path to the content we need and provide access to discounts on products we want.

How will marketers do this? Data, of course. Information marketers can use to determine what you are interested in. [Read more...]

Stop Being a Transactional Content Marketer

cash register
Free white paper! Free webinar! Free eBook!

We’ve all seen the promotional emails, banner ads and Tweets. It’s Free! It’s Free!

The fine print: we will send you weekly emails with more content you didn’t ask for. We will also give your information to our green sales team and tell them to go close the deal now Now NOW as part of our commitment to make it as easy as possible for you to buy. [Read more...]

Should You Celebrate Email Unsubscribes?

Celebrate Email UnsubscribesEvery time someone unsubscribes from my mailing list it stings a little bit.

To get on my mailing list, you not only had to sign up, you probably had to dig the Mailchimp confirmation out of your spam folder to confirm your opt-in! That was an active decision.

If you then unsubscribe, it means I didn’t meet the expectations you had. And that stings. If you are a blogger, I’m sure you can relate.

But actually, if you unsubscribe today, I missed your expectations long ago. I just didn’t know it until now. [Read more...]

How To Avoid the Biggest Pitfall of Progressive Profiling

Questionaire from Focus GroupAccording to Google, progressive profiling is “a method of asking questions incrementally, gathering more information about a prospect over time.”

With progressive profiling, instead of putting a 15 field form in front of your next potential prospect, use progressive profiling and only ask for the first couple pieces of information. Then, as they come back over time, continue to gather a little bit more.

And then it all falls apart. [Read more...]

Mute Represents Everything Wrong with Twitter Today

LALALALA!
Finally, you can mute on Twitter. Everything that’s wrong with Twitter has been fixed confirmed.

If you don’t want to see what someone Tweets, unfollow them. If they are spamming with mentions, favorites or retweets, block them. If that isn’t enough, report them for spam.

But mute? The only reason Twitter needs a mute button is the platform’s addiction to reciprocity. [Read more...]

A Simple Trick To Improve Your LinkedIn Campaign Performance

Missing
If you are a B2B marketer, you are paying attention to LinkedIn. You almost can’t ignore it today.

LinkedIn has become a powerhouse media company for B2B marketers, from opportunities for direct engagement (it does still have a few social media trappings) to publishing, content promotion and advertising. Not to mention the targeting data (but we’ll come back to that). [Read more...]