B2B content marketing has seen its share of trends over the years, but recently many B2B brands (even those in complex industries like manufacturing, chemicals, and healthcare) have dipped their toes into content markting tactics already well adopted by B2C companies. B2B marketing, which was often resigned to marketing and sales brochures and technical white papers, has gotten a lot punchier and daring in the last few years.
And with nearly 90 percent of organizations committed to content marketing, according to a 2018 benchmark from the Content Marketing Institute, even B2B companies have to find ways to stand out from the pack.
So what’s new for B2B content marketing? Here are the four trends that are here to stay:
1. Visual Content (but Mainly Video)
Video is here to stay. People watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube daily. That’s some serious staying power. So, we’re confident to say that video is going to last a long, long time.
Which is why you should make it a central part of your B2B content marketing strategy. Visual content, in general, gives your brand better avenues for telling your story and displaying the values of your company. If you want to reach millennials, it’s one of the surefire ways to get their attention.
According to a content preference survey, millennial buyers find more visual content such as infographics and webinars more appealing content types for making decisions, while older generations prefer more in-depth formats such as white papers.
This means it’s time to make sure that you really understand your target market and create individual marketing personas that can help drive a more diversified content strategy for each segment of your audience. Don’t worry—written content is still going to remain the spine of your content marketing. But even written content can benefit from more images and graphics – a 2015 BuzzSumo report found that adding visuals every 75 to 100 words doubled the number of social shares an article got.
2. Publishing on LinkedIn
Nothing is certain when it comes to tech, and especially when it comes to publishing. Teens have fled Facebook, publishers are bleeding, and when was the last time you heard anyone talk about AOL, MySpace, or Tumblr?
Meanwhile, some social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram all seem fairly healthy despite some dips. The strongest of the bunch, and most relevant to B2B content marketers, is LinkedIn, the professional networking site where everyone posts their CVs, and where B2B companies now see a remarkable amount of engagement. According to LinkedIn’s own content marketing manager, 80 percent of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 94 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.
We use LinkedIn as a primary content distribution platform for concise, punchy thought leadership articles. They significantly increase our clients’ brand visibility and industry credibility, as well as drive targeted prospects and leads to their websites.
3. Customization and Personalization
One-to-one marketing has been a fact of life in marketing for quite some time. It’s why your landing page on Amazon, Everlane, J. Crew, or any other shopping site changes a while after you use it. Or any social media page, really. Your Facebook News Feed and Twitter Timeline all change the more time you spend on the platform, as the platforms and their algorithms get to know you and you get targeted offers or “Recommendations for You” based on past purchases, age, gender, location, and other data points. Not everyone sees the same landing page, email newsletter, or offer because with the mountains of data that most companies have access to these days, they can personalize offers for consumers and dramatically increase their conversion rates.
That customization and personalization can also be taken advantage of by B2B content marketers. And, in fact, buyers want personalization. And you should, too, since location-based data for personalization increases understanding of audiences and helps deliver more effective marketing campaigns.
Naturally, personalization depends on data, which will never go out of style either (even though privacy is a bigger concern, so it pays to be transparent with your customers). Just pay attention to your traffic performance, how audiences are finding your content, and other behavioral data so you can deliver the best personalized content possible.
4. Streamlined User Experience (Mainly on Mobile)
User experience and user interface will always be important, especially on mobile. Users on their smartphones have been important for B2C interactions for over a decade, but B2B engagement on mobile has also steadily increased.
According to The Boston Consulting Group, mobile is driving an average of more than 40 percent of revenue for B2B marketing leaders. At the same time, more than half of B2B queries are made on mobile, and that figure is likely to grow to 70 percent by 2020.
Which makes complete sense. Millennials and Gen Z prefer mobile for everything, including banking, reading news, and social interaction. And they’re the ones who are going to hold the buying power for some time.
Another reason to make sure your site works on mobile? Google has already prioritized mobile when it shifted its entire index to a mobile-first angle. That means it indexes and ranks the mobile versions of websites over desktop versions since their users are primarily searching on smartphones.
The choice is clear: Make sure your site is mobile-capable, that the user interface is as friendly and aesthetically pleasing as possible. Keep fonts uniform, strongly consider color choices, and don’t hound the visitor every step of the way with pop-ups and notifications because that will drive mobile users away. And images? Well, they should load swiftly since speed will never go out of style.
Those are a few B2B content marketing trends we’re certain will stick around for a while. Have a question or want those trends applied to your business or brand? Drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do for you.