A Year-Ahead Outlook For B2B Insights in 2019
“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”
B2B research will continue to be driven by three primary influencers:
- Changes in Attitude & Behaviors of the Business Consumer
- Digital Marketing and the Internet
- Technological Innovation
Technology seems like the most apparent and sexy place to start in an article branded “What to look for in the year ahead.” To the contrary, I argue while technology does enable us to do certain things faster or more efficiently unless we do those things – the technology is useless, or at best less productive than it might otherwise be.
This is why I start here rather than with blockchain, AI, mobile.
Times Change, Technology Advances, Human Nature Remains the Same
Ogilvy was also noted for his propensity to make ads appear more like editorial content versus simple taglines clutched to a super-focused image of the product. Why is this important? Because if you consider most B2B marketing today, it is still very generic – opting for simplistic broad messaging to a single customer profile set which harkens back to early CPG times when pre-segmented audiences were the norm and choices were limited.
We have learned a great deal about demographics / psychographics for both the consumer and even the enterprise. We have also begun to challenge the idea of the enterprise as emotionless task-oriented machines, making decisions solely based on bottom line ROI.
We have come to think of businesses more as groups of individuals who serve other people. Today, customers are less concerned about whether you are the market leader or, if you won the award or, have the fastest box.
What people want to know is; who you are and how you are making a difference in their business and the community. They always have, before they didn’t use to have the voice, or rather the platform to tell you.
Content – No Longer Just A Nice to Have
Moving forward B2B research will require a more holistic approach. For example, we know construction and engineering firms who use tools and other equipment like work boots or vehicles and even project management software and who conduct business in mild, winter and tropical climates, have different issues and needs.
Depending on the markets you serve, your content can be about brand-building or it can be about demand generation. Your digital strategy is critical to reaching these decision makers in just the right way and the most appropriate time. Today, that right time is when the customer is ready. Get ready for it; this is Inbound-Marketing.
By creating content, about successes your clients have experienced with you in different scenarios and leveraging carefully researched keywords combined with well-tested landing pages, you will reach qualified audiences who are contacting you, armed with questions which they have prepared, about their specific business problem. They most likely have already qualified you from the research they have done before reaching out to you for more engagement with your firm.
Creating content that resonates with both general audience issues and niche audiences is the best way for your prospects to find you. You build domain authority and trust as more organizations link to your content which raises your searchability rankings.
Primary research which your organization sponsors and publishes about how the efficacy of your products makes a difference to the industry and other communities will be vital to building trust and authority.
If all of this seems like common sense and you are already doing it, great. While 91 percent of B2B organizations report engaging in at least some measure of content marketing, 53 percent are modestly engaged with limited programs and many of them email marketing only according to the B2B Content Marketing 2018/ Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America by the Content Marketing Institute. The study also indicates that only 36 percent were modestly happy with their results, citing that 19 percent were doing very good or excellent in tying programs to KPIs.
The point – there is room to improve. B2B marketers and market researchers have an opportunity to thoroughly and rigorously test and measure in this space. Starting with common sense communications, personalized messaging or (ABM) account-based marketing, and inbound, you will continue to see growth in the deployment of researched and documented digital strategies, which will continue to be the direction for larger organizations. Small and medium enterprises will continue to ease into more comprehensive digital campaigns leveraging primary research for content and validation on a more limited scale with an increasing trend.
Blockchain (Not a fad)
While there have been many articles around the impact of blockchain on the market research industry, most have focused on applying a new platform for solving old business model problems. The areas for market research are highly disruptive, especially in B2B space. Players like Opinion Economy and others providing technologies who will break down inefficient networks in the B2B online research space and replace them with a democratized and vibrant community. Through building relationships with B2B industry associations and affiliate groups and engaging their members and offering a greater share of the CPI in return for a trusted partnership and quality participation built on blockchain features like validation, profiling and event oracles.
Mobile Business Enterprise Apps
In case anyone missed it, IBM and Apple have been busy for the last four years in a partnership to deploy mobile applications for enterprises in just about every industry sector as well as government. From Oil & Gas to Financial Service sectors, business executives and tradesman each armed with smartphones they can use to help them solve every day critical business challenges.
And the company who just acquired Qualtrics: them too. These companies (like IBM & SAP) are building platforms and networks to connect businesses and data with other business, their people and insights. If it improves the ERP or the CRM process, they will find a way.
Where will you play in this new reality?
I think the opportunity for researchers is to go deep. Data science for quantitative researchers and for qualitative be tactically insightful and strategic and always – use your language.