December is not only a time for reflection on the past year, but also for contemplating how your business can ensure future success. Part of that success comes from having a finger on the pulse of the latest industry drivers. Here, we highlight four key trends to look out for in the coming year:
1) Customer experience
“Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation and the new competitive battleground” – Tiffani Bova, Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
Customer experience plays an ever-important role in marketing and overall business success, for every industry. Whether B2C or B2B, today’s businesses must not only be knowledgeable about their customers, but also proactively adopt marketing strategies that will improve their customers’ experience.
According to Walker Information’s Customers 2020, changes such as the movement of digital, the empowered customer, and fast growth of innovation are influencing customer expectations. Customers will soon expect companies to know their individual needs and personalise their experience. Ultimately, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in B2B by 2020. Currently a meagre 23% of B2B marketers have a customer-centric organisational structure, compared to those that focus on channels or products. In 2017, we may see a shift in marketing strategies to address the growing need for optimised customer experience.
2) Interactive content
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand” – Confucius
It’s no revelation that the average attention span in today’s society is rather dismal. One article in The Telegraph has claimed that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones. Now that people are inundated with information daily, they can only spare their concentration for the really outstanding content on show.
To be successful in reaching their target audiences and achieving their desired outcome, marketers must adapt their content to be as interesting, relevant and as engaging as possible. Interactive content, that requires active engagement, can support businesses in making their content stand out from the competition. According to research by Content Marketing Institute, 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs more attention than static content. Businesses are already starting to rethink their content strategies and this will likely continue to develop in 2017.
3) Mobile domination
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke (Author)
Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic online this year, for the first time. Marketers in the B2B arena should take a serious look at their offering via mobile to ensure they stay one step ahead in an evolving and competitive marketing industry.
Most people today are searching on Google using a mobile device and Google is now working on a new, mobile-first web index. Its algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in its results. This shift shows a greater focus on mobile search and optimisation and digital marketers should take this into account when planning for next year. The opportunities could be endless.
4) Internet of Things (IoT)
“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again!” — Brendan O’Brien, Chief Architect & Co-Founder, Aria Systems
According to Gartner, 21 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, fundamentally changing the way many businesses work. Other experts have predicted that this figure will be even higher. The IoT can transform not only businesses, but entire industries. However, many companies still have a long way to go in terms of implementing an effective digital strategy.
There is already a wealth of innovative IoT solutions that combine internet-based services with physical products. As a result, data is of increasing importance to both businesses and their customers. If not already on the ball, companies should kick start their ideas in 2017. Otherwise, they will risk being left behind in an archaic, siloed part of an increasingly connected industry.
Other trends to keep an eye out for include: the rise of the social influencer, growing interest in native advertising, emphasis on unique and high quality content, personalised everything, virtual reality and an ever-increasing reliance on data.
If you would like to find out how BDB can support you with specialist B2B international marketing communications, please get in touch.
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