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Top 10 B2B Digital Marketing Trends in 2017
2017 is full of new B2B marketing trends.
This year, its all about embracing tech and eliminating barriers. That tech includes everything from video marketing to virtual reality experimentation. The barriers could be the ones between content and social media; content and email; or just about anything else that includes cross-platform promotion.
So what are the biggest changes coming our way in 2017?
Weve noticed 10 changes that we think will have adramaticimpact throughout the year. There are more but these 10 will have the biggest impact.
The secret is out content marketing is amazing.
As a result, companies are rushing full-force into new content strategies thatll add to a saturated information market.
Thats not necessarily bad. Some industries still have a lot of breathing room when it comes to quality content, and competition typically spurs innovation.
But the content marketplace has been saturated for at least a year now for popular industries, especially in the tech field.
That kind of hyperactive competition where companies pile on top of already-established niches is more indicative of abubblethan regular competition.
Weve talked about market bubbles before, but lets apply that lens to content marketing.
First, we have to establishthe five major events of a financial bubble.
Displacement The creation of an idea & its early success.
Boom The mass adoption of that idea.
Euphoria Earning & popularizing an idea; the golden age of a bubble.
Profit Forward-thinkers earn from bubble, ditch assets, and start looking for next idea.
Panic Those left behind dont earn nearly as much as before; idea is ditched
Most of these steps sound good on paper. But they all lead to the same end result a burst market bubble.
In terms of content marketing,displacementoccurred when Google got so good at recommending search results that companies realized they could write information, publish it on their site, and get new customers for practically no cost.
Theboomhappened when people started talking about it. Everyone wanted in on this new-fangled content marketing idea.
Euphoriaoccurred when everyone was making money off of content. It was the golden age that also saw the rise of third-party specialist companies like Content Marketing Institute kind of like how SEO spawned Moz.
Profitis happening right now. Lots of companies are earning off of content marketing, and a lot of them are ditching text-based content altogether in favor of new marketing strategies (or at least new content formats).
With that in mind,panicis on the horizon. Thatll be when the value of content especially text-based content stops earning returns.
Considering how easy it is to write content, this panic moment is probably closer than marketers would like to admit.
In fact, you can already see thought leaders changing their content strategies.
Content is popular, and everyone wants to get theirs while the gettin is good.
Butonly6%of content marketers consider themselves to be sophisticatedin their methodology, according to a study from Content Marketing Institute.
22%say theyre mature about their methodology,35%say theyre adolescent,26%say theyre young, and10%say theyre in their first steps.
That top 6% is in a prime market spot to jump to the next big thing in content marketing and leave their competitors behind. Theyre probably the marketing agencies and big brands that have dollars to burn.
The mature 22% is probably doing a little experimentation of their own. They may not have the big budgets of the top 6%, but theyre getting along just fine and enjoying the profits of their work. But, just like the 6%, these companies are also looking for the next big step in content marketing.
They just want someone else to test everything out first.
With that in mind, the bottom 72% will be hit hardest by a burst content bubble. Theyre the ones who are lagging behind the most, and they probably wont have the budgets to jump to the next phase of content marketing like the trailblazers before them.
The bottom 10% those taking their first steps are in the most danger of losing out. Theyre attempting to break into a hyper-saturated content market when major thought leaders are thinking of ways to getout.
On the one hand, that may reduce the content markets saturation so that smaller brands can actually get recognition.
On the other hand, it opens the doors for more advanced forms of content to decimate the bottom 72% especially if that 72% is only using text- and image-based content.
But theres still one big question: What are thought leaders doingnowthat others arent?
Over the past few years, video has exploded onto the content marketing scene.
Video has a number of natural advantages over text its easier to consume, its easier to show, it has the potential to go viral, and Googlelovesit.
At WebpageFX, we launched our first full video marketing strategy in the middle of 2016.
Since then, weve seen someoutstandingresults when targeting high-value keywords. We even outrank Moz, Search Engine Land, and Forbes for some keywords, which is pretty good for an agency in small-city Pennsylvania!
Were not the only ones enjoying the benefits of video, either. Look up your industrys major keywords in YouTube, and youre sure to find someone talking about issues related to your business.
If you havent started a video marketing strategy, the time to start is now!
As any Six Sigma participant can tell you, every step of the production process has waste. Its a universal truth that applies to everything from thermodynamics to marketing. At some point, youll lose money, energy, and other tangible needs required to do what you want.
The goal is to lose as little as possible every time you invest in a new initiative. If you want to stick to Six Sigma Black Belt rules, you want to strive for 99.96% efficiency, or 99 cents of each marketing dollar going straight into an initiative.
In marketing, waste happens whenever someone has to take their time away from promoting your business. That happens most often because someone doesnt have the resources or planning to fully follow through with their ideas.
The general solution is to provide as much time and as many resources that your marketers will need to complete a task.
This is a challenge, depending on the marketing medium youre using.
Text-based content is pretty easy since its mostly based on data and a marketers writing talent.
Graphics and video can be more difficult since they may require collusions between your marketers and freelancers (or at least one more person at your business).
For initiatives like SEO, PPC, and email marketing, it gets harder to identify points of waste. Thats because they require more data collection and analysis than other marketing strategies. That makes it a lot harder to say you only want to invest in X amount of hours of SEO and PPC optimization.
In those cases, its a lot easier to identify waste in hindsight, record it, and look for it in the future.
For example, if someone on your team spent hours optimizing the text of an AdWords ad in an attempt to lower bounce rate, you can almost certainly identify points of waste. A high bounce rate points to a problem on an ads landing page since a user has already clicked the ad the text is probably fine.
While it doesnt help to hover over every marketers shoulder as theyre working, identifying points like the example above can help you both save andearnmoney by spending it more efficiently.
If you find enough areas of improvement, you might be able to hit that Six Sigma benchmark with your marketing team.
Personalization is a multi-tiered strategy based on appealing to a specific person instead of a grouped demographic.
That includes using someones name and speaking directly to their needs as a customer. Its a little tricky to get started, but the right personalization software can make the difference between average and exponential growth.
By examining a users IP address and cached browser data, high-powered personalization software can serve tailored pages to different people in different industries.
At WebpageFX, we help our clients do this with our proprietary software called PersonalizeFX.
In general, personalized pages earn somewhere between a 10% to 15% increase in conversion rate, which is huge for any business. Whether you work on quick sales or lead generation, not one business would say theydontwant a 15% increase in conversions.
Thats why personalization is such a big deal for this coming year. Like content, marketers have discovered how powerful personalization is, and now theyre using it to grow like never before.
So if personalization is following the same steps as the content bubble, this is probably theboomphase.
In other words, if you havent started using personalization yet,start today.
Account-based marketing is a similar idea to personalization. The difference is that in account-based marketing, you get most personalized information straight from the user.
This is why companies like Facebook want users to tell them so much about themselves. By customizing a users experience based on their information, you increase the chance theyll stay on your site.
As any marketer can tell you, every second someone is on your site is another second they may convert.
You can implement this for your B2B with somehigh-level web developmentto empower your site visitors with customization options.
This also gives you the chance to collect proprietary data on who your best customers are, where they work, what they specifically do, and why they shop with you.
All of that comes from one marketing initiative, which is why accounts have become so popular for almost every website in the world.
This strategy is so effective that its used in analog marketing, too. Just think about the last time you shopped at a grocery store you needed a certain card, didnt you?
Setting up that kind of account-activated marketing doesnt happen overnight. But the results speak for themselves as you earn more customers, especially repeats.
The idea behind synergy is to make something greater than the sum of its parts, which is why we chose this photo heading.
With Internet marketing, almost every strategy can work with another one to produce better results than using either strategy independently.
The best example of this and usually the first one new marketers experience is SEO and PPC.
SEO is ideal for steady growth and long-term results, while PPC is perfect for quick growth and short-term results.
Combine the two, and you not only get the best of both worlds youalsoget search saturation.
Add local SEO on top of that, and you get alotof search saturation.
The result of using all three strategies together is enormous. You dont just have a search listing at 1, you dont just have an ad in the top position, and you dont just have maps results you have all of them working at the same time!
That means if someone wants to see one of your competitors, they have to scroll down the page. It may not sound like much, but why would someone scroll when they see your company listedthree times?
Marketing agencies especially have discovered the value in this since the results are so powerful. The uses go beyond simple site traffic they also extend to reputation management, brand awareness, and even CRO.
With that in mind, expect to see single-brand dominance on alotof keywords in 2017. If agencies are ramping it up, you can bet theyre doing it for their clients too.
As more B2B companies adopt social media, the need for social lead generation has grown.
LinkedIn is the best example of this since itsone of the most valuable social networks for marketing.
Already,94%of B2B marketers distribute content via LinkedIn. Thats probably why80%of B2B social media leads happen to come from LinkedIn as well.
And it makes sense LinkedIn is for professionals, so its the ideal place to reach B2B customers.
Combine that with LinkedIns 2.74% visitor-to-lead conversion rate, and you have a social network thats justwaitingfor more B2B marketers.
You dont have to rely on LinkedIn organic reach to get new customers either.LinkedIn has its own PPC systemthats highly-targeted and exceptionally lucrative for B2B companies.
Dropship ecommerce has become one of the most popular ways for any company to make a quick buck including B2Bs.
The idea is that you have a popular website, you process orders, you send those orders to a vendor, and then the vendor ships the product.
That gives you the website owner zero inventory, very little overhead, and fewer responsibilities in the eyes of the law.
Basically, dropship ecommerce acts as a cash register. The owners are middlemen who help popularize a vendors products, and they earn a decent profit on every item without actually handling it.
All of that makes dropship ecommerce one of the easiest business models in the world. Anyone with an idea and some marketing knowledge can make an ecommerce website mildly successful, and theres almost no initial investment to earn back at least compared to conventional retailers.
Thats why the online world can expect a surge in dropship retailers in 2017. Pretty much anyone can do it, and with only the market to regulate the industrys growth, there are sure to be some great new businesses and some bad ones.
If youre a B2B ecommerce retailer, keep marketing and building your online presence. The best way to beat the coming competition is to have a solid SEO plan in place, complemented by as many other strategies as you can create.
If youre just breaking into dropshipping, look into PPC and other paid methods to promote your site at first. Otherwise, youll have a hard time showing up in search results for your vertical.
At the start of 2017, virtual reality is the next major frontier for marketing.
VR itself is still developing, so its hard to say how marketers could use it to earn a profit right now.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have investedmore than $250 millioninto Oculus Rift, their VR branch, to create content. Zuckerberg himself believes VRs future lies in social media.
If thats the case, then there will almost certainly be coming VR options for Facebook ads, specifically.
But those will most likely comeafterFacebook launches its VR branch in general. Zuckerbergs philosophy on creating Facebook was to get users and make it cool before monetizing, so its possible VR Facebook marketing is still few years off.
Thatd be great and all, but Facebook isnt the only company working on VR.
Enter Google and their Cardboard property, which is currently available and makes use of Google Earth, a virtual tour guide, and personalized video. (Its also a lot cheaper than Oculus.)
In that sense, Google has already monetized VR as every YouTube video is VR compatible. That means their ads are compatible as well, so VR monetization is already here!
But with that in mind, VR isnt necessarily for everyone. Its not a catchall like a text AdWords ad.
Googles short article on VR and advertisingbrings up four questions that you can use to tell if VR is the right choice for you.
Will VR give viewers an experience that they otherwise couldnt have?
Could you give shoppers a better feel for your product?
Will your recording environment be rich with things to see?
Will viewers want to continue watching beyond the initial Thats cool moment?
All four of these questions are great to ask for any B2B company.
B2C has it easy in this regard. They just need to appeal to consumers.
But B2B requires you to be much more personalized, targeted, and specific. You have to appeal to the nature of someones business not just a hobby they may happen to have.
That means B2B may have a few issues getting off the ground with VR advertising. But that doesnt mean its impossible.
All itll take is some potential, determination, and creativity.
Have you utilized any of these strategies for your business yet? Have you seen any results? Let me know in the comments!
Chris is a Content Marketer with a passion for writing, SEO, and being a ginger.Get posts by email
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