Many B2B marketers don’t view themselves as cutting edge in the marketing world. They don’t always keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and social media. And even when they do, there is a sense that they can’t implement the latest approaches to marketing in their organizations. B2B sales are often viewed as heavily dependent on relationships where sales people understand the prospect’s business at a deep level. Marketing must follow suit and support that approach.
But things like social media and digital marketing are not fads. These are things that have changed the way people live their lives. And conduct their business. Even buyers at B2B companies.
Some key insights that are relevant to B2B marketers.
1. Internet Growth
There is not a question that internet continues to grow. The report highlights 8% year over year growth. More people spend more time looking for information on the internet. They are not just looking for restaurant reviews, but they are looking for answers to their business questions. What do they find when they come across your B2B company? Do they even come across your company? Enter your company into a search engine box? What comes up? What if you enter your most common product categories? Are you helping your prospects find their way to you with your internet presence? Compare what you are doing to what your competitors are doing for a good benchmark.
2. Social Media Growth
More people are spending time on social networks than any other activity on the internet except email. Are your prospects part of this trend? Ask your current customers. What are the sites that provide the most value in your industry? For some B2B companies the answer is LinkedIn. For others, forums still hold sway over the audience. And there are even B2B companies that are driving business from Facebook. Your audience is there. You just need to get in front of them with something that matters to them. Nearly all respondents to the survey shared in the report use Facebook.
3. Smart Phones
Penetration of smart phones continues to grow and people are using these devices for so much more than phone calls. They are still trying to solve those business problems while they wait in line, while they commute and even while they are walking through the hallways of their office to the next meeting. This means they are conducting searches, asking questions on social networks and reading blog posts. Conduct an audit of your B2B company’s mobile presences including website, blog and the things you are posting on social networks. Are you trying to capture leads with gated content? Have you tried to fill out the form on a smart phone? And if you have a cookie-based system that identifies people and automatically fills out the form or categorizes visitors as new or returning, how does that work as more and more traffic comes through smart phones?
We tend to think about smart phones as the most important mobile trend, but for huge parts of the world, mobile will never mean smart phones. There are 3-4 times the number of mobile phone users compared to smartphone users worldwide. People use standard mobile phones as their connection to their families, to the world, to their money and to their business activities. Does your B2B company serve parts of the developing world where this opportunity exists? You may need to consider who your customers sell to when examining these mobile phone trends.
With the rapid technology growth in China it is hard to ignore this huge market. There are already more active Apple and Android mobile devices in China than there are in the US. The Chinese also spend more time using the internet (33% of time vs 26%) and on mobile devices (22% vs 12%), while Americans spend more time watching television (42% vs 29%). And two of the top ten technology companies in the world are based in China (Tencent and Baidu). None of this means that you should change your marketing approach and suddenly add China to the mix, but if you are a global company, or one that could serve customers in China, start exploring your options. Many Chinese social and technology platforms continue to experience significant growth.