What is the outlook for B2B insights in the decade ahead?
Business decision-makers are currently looking for solutions across all aspects of their businesses. They are responding to the needs of their employees, customers, and stakeholders with solutions that will help them operate more effectively, communicate better, build better products, and provide better services.
To reach them with your solutions you are going to have to meet them on common ground. This means in all of your marketing communications and product design thinking consideration, you have to use your customer’s language.
“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 for quantitative data analysis and qualitative methodologies will continue to be driven by three primary influencers:
- Changes in Attitude and Behaviors of the Business Consumer
- Digital Marketing and the Internet
- Technological Innovation
Technology seems like the most obvious and sexy place to start in an article branded “What to look for in the decade ahead.” On the contrary, I argue that 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.
Blockchain, AI, and Mobile are all important enabling platforms that will serve human insight…
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 an emotionless, task-oriented machine, making decisions solely based on bottom-line ROI.
More recently, we have come to think of businesses as groups of individuals who serve other people. Today, customers are less concerned about whether you are the market leader, if you won the award, or if you have the fastest box.
People want to know who you are and how you are making a difference in their business and the community. They always have; before, they didn’t have the voice, or rather, the platform, to tell you.
Why you should use your customers’ language in your content
Moving forward, B2B research will require a more holistic approach. For example, we know that construction and engineering firms that use tools and other equipment like work boots or vehicles and even project management software and conduct business in mild, winter, and tropical climates have different issues and needs.
Your content can be about brand-building or demand generation, depending on the markets you serve. Your digital strategy is critical to reaching these decision-makers in just the right way at the most appropriate time. Today, the 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 they have prepared about their specific business problem. They most likely already qualified you based on their research before contacting 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 and secondary research that 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, many of them email marketing only, according to 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 rated themselves very good or excellent at 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 deploying 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 about the impact of blockchain on the market research industry, most have focused on applying a new platform to solve old business model problems. The areas for market research are highly disruptive, especially in the B2B space. Players like Opinion Economy and others provide technologies to break down inefficient networks in the B2B online research space and replace them with a democratized and vibrant community. Building relationships with B2B industry associations and affiliate groups, 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 and the government. From the Oil & Gas to Financial Service sectors, business executives and tradesmen are each armed with smartphones they can use to help them solve critical business challenges.
And the company that just acquired Qualtrics: them too. These companies (like IBM, Apple, and SAP) are building platforms and networks to connect businesses and data with other businesses, their people, and their insights. If it improves the ERP or CRM process, they will find a way.
Where will you play in this new reality?
To build stronger relationships with clients, technology will play a crucial role in integrating and optimizing all of your marketing and solution offerings. The ability to use your Customers’ language is, I think, an opportunity for researchers to go deep. Leveraging more data science applications for quantitative researchers and for qualitative data analysis, being tactically insightful and strategic, and always – using your language.
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