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 my cover here, send me an email at eric at b2bdigital.net.
Photo credit: alexkerhead via Flickr