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6 B2B Content Marketing Trends That Will Change Your Business in 2017

Alexander HowardAlexander Howard

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If you're a B2B serious about improving your sales, you've probably spent a lot of effort on content marketing. You've got the common sense to know how huge a part it plays in the sales cycle.

Content marketing is often touted as the way to get more traffic and, consequently, more prospects. However, a Content Marketing Institute report revealed that "only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing." This down from 38% the year before.

So while content marketing is on the rise, B2Bs aren't doing enough to take advantage of it. Are you staying abreast of these changes, or are you on track to be left behind?

1. Content Marketers Document and Use Strategies

If you've ever read a job post for a content marketer, you know they "must have experience designing strategies and adhering to said strategies." How surprised would you be, then, to read that only 32% of content marketers actually had a written strategy as of 2015? And not only that, but that those numbers were down 3% from the year before?

The need for a strategy is self-evident. It gives direction to every aspect of the marketing process, especially when it comes time to build a campaign. The Content Marketing Institute found marketers felt more effective when they had a documented strategy.

2. Online Sales WILL Increase

Forrester Research predicted back in 2015 that annual e-commerce sales in the United States would reach the one trillion dollar mark (or 1.3bn, specifically) by 2020. This increase is being pushed by a shift in buying habits. More people are taking advantage of self-service e-commerce sites than ever, negating the impact of commerce via phone or face-to-face interactions. And it provides a unique opportunity for B2Bs to cut operation costs.

Forrester Research outlined a number of factors contributing to the journey to a trillion dollars in e-commerce sales. These included:

This forecast is also backed up by two other research companies, Gartner, Inc.and Frost & Sullivan, who predicted the market to reach $1bn and $1.9bn by 2020, respectively.

3. Battle of the Old Versus the New

Ray Tomlinson composed the first email back in 1971. Forty-six years later, even with the emergence of endless online engagement tools, email still commands a 4,300% ROI, according to the Direct Marketing Association. This is further backed up by ExactTarget, which claims that an investment of one dollar on email marketing brings back a return of 44.

Email marketing is such a strong channel that Selligrent predicts that investments in the medium will increase year over year. They also report 56% of surveyed companies claiming to increase their investments in marketing as a whole.

It makes sense, too. With the advent of mobile technology, there are two predominant methods through which companies capture information: email and social. This is not likely to die down any time soon, and it positions email as the number one channel through which B2B companies can increase their marketing investments.

4. Social Media Marketing Still Has Room for Growth

It's a no-brainer that online businesses can't function without data. Which is why it's so shocking that the Digital Marketing Association reported 70% of companies But the DMA predicts that the gap will close by 2017, with 46% of marketers saying that they see their social media channels as being full of opportunities.

5. Video is King

When you go online, no matter which social media app you use, you will find functions for video uploads or live video. Just last week, WhatsApp introduced a much-awaited video feature. Facebook has invested a ton of money marketing its 'Facebook Live' functionality. Webinar services are more popular than ever. Seven billion videos are watched every day on Facebook and YouTube.

Animoto conducted a survey about consumer behaviors and found that four times as many consumers preferred to watch a video about a product than read about it instead.

Of specific note for B2Bs, "four in five consumers [said] a video showing how a product or service works [was] important". The DMA went on to report that 69% of B2B marketers saw their budgets for video either "increasing or significantly increasing."

The message is loud and clear. There is no better time to invest in video.

6. Wearable Devices

The Apple Watch recently did its rounds, and now competitors can't introduce wearable devices fast enough.

In my article The Five Greatest Salespeople of all Time I wrote that Napoleon Barragan was an early adopter. He had a talent for recognizing emerging trends and taking advantage of them.

Even if your company doesn't currently work with wearable devices, it's important to understand how they work. The DMA predicts that one in four US citizens will own some kind of wearable device in the near future.

Just as some developers use beta environments to test how a product or service might work, B2Bs should recognize trends and invest time and money into understanding wearable tech.