January typically is filled with “best of” lists, resolutions and predictions. Industry news sites feature countdowns and rewinds that take us back or forecasts that keep us looking ahead. It’s a natural time to reflect so we can learn where we’ve been and plan for the future. B2B content marketing is no different. Now that 2018 is fully underway, what predictions can we make about this year’s trends? What similarities will we see from 2017, and what changes will be made?
B2B Content Marketing Trends
- Social reigns. Social media still remains the paramount platform for B2B content marketing and sharing. Its position on the throne will likely remain. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn stay at the top of B2B social media use with their valuable networking and brand-building tools. These platforms are an effective means of distributing original content centralized on websites of businesses and thought leaders. Less utilized in the B2B marketplace are more stylistic channels designed for content creation and uploading. These include YouTube and Instagram. As B2B marketers begin to harness the use of visual content, we may see a change in utilization.
- Mobile battles. While consumers devour content from their smart devices, PC-tech still dominates the professional marketplace. B2B content marketing has yet to delve deeply into mobile devices for its content and B2B marketers are 29% less likely than their B2C counterparts to rank mobile as a top-three strategic priority in 2017. Only 12% are making mobile optimization a tactical priority, with mobile marketing investment also low. As the tides continue to sway in favor of mobile use in all industries, 2018 may see the shift toward mobile marketing in B2B. But the progress will be slow as long as the PC leads in the workplace.
- Data strengthens. With current technologies, data and marketing now work hand-in-hand to help executives make better strategy decisions. The ability to weigh and measure ROI dependent on specific initiatives and tactics has paved the way for more effective marketing. This will continue in 2018. Metrics for brand success, distribution and the customer experience are top of mind as they evolve and become more specified. Such bountiful data encourages premeditated and weighed decisions and can lead to ROI-based plans such as ABM (account-based marketing). New programs for browser-based data, supply forecasting and data visualization are progressing each day.
- Client experience becomes central. The marketing department has expanded its role with each passing year, recently adding the client experience to its list of duties. This drives the notion that marketing does not end once the sale closes. Client retention is as much a part of marketing as generating new leads. In 2018, marketers are attempting to remain relevant and useful to their clients in as many ways as they can. Outside of providing the best service and product possible, using marketing to provide meaningful thought leadership leads to a sustained competitive advantage.
- Visual steers. B2C counterparts still place greater importance on visual marketing than B2B; however, each year shows a rise in in video and graphic content. Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. With each year, B2B has expanded its use of video, webinars, livestreams and infographics. As the sea of content grows, generating new, exciting and interesting ways to consume that content is a necessity. 2018 will see a rise in user-friendly, visual content creation tools and the platforms to share them, such as Vimeo and YouTube.
In 2018, it may seem like there is an ocean of content already before us and that there isn’t much room for new or enterprising subjects. However, as time changes, so do our ideologies, technologies and methods of communication. As long as we are evolving, so will the knowledge and ideas we choose to share and the ways we choose to share them. To be successful and to communicate effectively, marketers need to stay on top of current and emerging trends in B2B content marketing. Don’t be daunted by the ocean of content before you. Instead, use it to discover the innovative ways we’re communicating now.