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CX, Design, Martech and AI: The 2018 Digital Trends set to shake up the world of B2B Marketing

The much anticipated 2018 Digital Trends report has been published by Econsultancy in association with Adobe. It looks at the most significant trends that will impact marketing in the short to medium term.

Now in its eighth year, the 2018 Digital Trends report is based on a global survey of nearly 13,000 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific. Here, we picked out four of the top digital trends brought to light by the survey set to shake up the B2B marketing world:

1. CX remains a top priority for businesses

Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers. 19% of the marketers surveyed said CX is the most exciting opportunity for them this year (compared to 22% last year), followed closely by data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).

 Digital trends: Most exciting marketing opportunity.png

Source: 2018 Digital Trends report published by Econsultancy and Adobe

 

Relevant, well-implemented content, although sometimes challenging and demanding to create, lends huge credibility to a brand’s identity and makes a company stand out from the crowd. The only way your audience will interact with your brand and content is through identification – creating and offering intelligent content that’s of interest to them and that they care about, understand and need.

It’s worth mentioning here that this kind of personalisation requires companies to invest time in getting to know their customers well – a good strategy is to identify the most important customers, identify their personas and then focus on their individual end-to-end customer journey with an aim of offering the best CX throughout that journey. However, do bear in mind that there may be multiple individuals involved in different stages of the buying decision. Companies must make themselves relevant at each stage of this process – too pushy too early will lose a sale but equally we must provide superior, intelligent content which in turn makes the customer a smarter buyer.

 

Digital trends: Digital priorities.png

Source: 2018 Digital Trends report published by Econsultancy and Adobe

  

2. 73% of companies are now investing in design

With 73% of respondents saying their companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands - the market is entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’. Making the ‘complex’ seem ‘simple’, especially in the deep technology market, doesn’t come easy and doesn’t happen by chance.

Design-led thinking is ultimately about having the customer at the heart of your business strategy, building the experience based on an intimate understanding of how people use your products and services, and where there is friction in the process to iron out.

 Digital trends: design digital.png

Source: 2018 Digital Trends report published by Econsultancy and Adobe

 

Companies that ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’ are 57% more likely to have significantly surpassed their 2017 business goals.

 

3. The rise of integrated marketing technology (Martech)

A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chance of providing a seamless CX for your brand. It can also be frustrating for B2B marketers who want to do their jobs without restrictions and enable them to acquire, retain and delight customers.

Integrated marketing platforms such as HubSpot, Marketo and Eloqua, allow you to truly understand your customer and their buyers’ journey. It also allows you to be agile on your marketing initiatives – see what works, what doesn’t, in order for your marketing campaign to succeed.

The findings state that 43% of organisations report a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies. Top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in a highly-integrated, cloud-based technology stack (25% vs. 9%).

Digital skills are also vital for a range of marketing tools and platforms, therefore investment in digital skills (whether training your current team or bringing specialists in) is crucial. B2B brands need to ensure they have a balance of skills between the analytical thinkers who can draw insights from data, and the creative talent to bring marketing and advertising campaigns to life.

73% of respondents agree that their companies are ‘combining digital marketing skills with technology.

 

Digital trends: B2B customer experience.png

Source: 2018 Digital Trends report published by Econsultancy and Adobe

 

4. AI crowned as the most exciting technology for marketers

B2B marketers have begun turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and accelerate business growth.

The most talked about benefit from AI has been the improved lead generation, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. AI can have huge benefits in B2B marketing and sales lifecycle, turning data into meaningful and actionable insights. AI's ability to predict customer behaviour and automate aspects of the buyer's journey is helping B2B marketers make smarter decisions and improve efficiencies like never before.

The 2018 Digital Trends report unveiled that when asked about the themes and technologies marketers are most excited about over a three-year timeframe, ‘delivering personalised experiences in real time’ was by far the most popular choice, with 36% of company respondents, and 40% of their agency counterparts, selecting this option. However, at this current time only 15% of companies surveyed said they are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months.

 

Digital trends: AI in B2B Marketing.png

Source: 2018 Digital Trends report published by Econsultancy and Adobe

 

Clearly digital – although a slow starter in the B2B Marketing world - is catching up with the consumer world. The B2B audience is driven by consumer expectations, and it now expects the same customer experience in the B2B space. With the evolution of technologies available to us, we are now in a better position than we have ever been to ensure these ‘consumer driven expectations’ are met in the B2B tech marketing world. Some are further along this transformation that others but we are all on the journey.

 

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Sylvia Laws, Managing Director, Technical Associates Group (TAG)

 You can connect with Sylvia via LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or email.


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