Before you know it, it's already April. We're well into the year and in taking care of business might have gotten somewhat immersed in day-to-day tasks and dealings. But in order to keep a proper perspective, it might be good to take a step back and observe.
Reexamining the B2B predictions from the end of last year and beginning of this one can help us pinpoint where we are. Comparing this 'map' to the path we're currently on can provide plenty of food for thought. So, without further ado, let's look at how a few months back we imagined things would be developing. The following article will specifically focus on the main B2B marketing predictions for 2014 made by Forrester Research, Gartner and SiriusDecisions.
Forrester Research 2014 Predictions
Back in July 2013, Forrester pointed out how CMO's role and influence in companies had increased drastically. Marketing's role had seen a significant shift from even a year earlier and was now more or less on the forefront of corporate decision-making.
Of course all of that comes with newer and greater responsibilities. Such as the need for more efficiency, well-developed strategies, a clear perspective and more customer engagement, but also for enough room and flexibility to introduce sudden changes in this 'sudden-change-industry'.
Fast forward to January 2014 and things have indeed developed in that direction. While financial constraints still play a significant role, 32% of B2B marketers who were surveyed by Forrester at the time, said they expected budget increases. On average, the report goes on, such increases would be up to 6% more, compared to last year.
But what to do with those budget increases? Forrester's suggestions revolved around optimising already existent processes as well the introduction of tools and products which have high reuse potential.
Content is one of the main reusable assets which are available to marketers and should not be disregarded. Recycling content remains popular and for good reason. Visual is also highly popular - videos, vines, slideshares.
Along with that, though, comes the need for a well-targeted and devised strategy. No longer is it possible to have random pieces of content that don't add up to anything significant. According to Forrester, B2B marketers' focus on content should involve developing more thought leadership, based on a clear and sounds strategy. This was also echoed very clearly in a piece by Allen Weiner from Gartner.
Finally, Forrester also predicted that companies would be focusing more on local and industry-specific events over big trade shows. The point of this is to increase customer engagement and emphasise more personal interaction.
SiriusDecisions 2014 Predictions
SiriusDecisions' 2014 predictions are not only about B2B marketing per se, but are particularly focused on marketing automation. The company broke their predictions up into two different categories: one concerning marketing automation marketplace dynamics and another one concerning marketing automation technology developments.
The first category's main takeaways are that in 2014 marketing automation companies will further outline, define and expand their training and certification services. Since the industry in itself is still in a bit of a 'Wild West' condition (meaning that there is a certain amount of noise, lack of clear standards and of high-level expertise), the marketplace will mirror this by emphasising trainings, certifications and partnerships.
According to SiriusDecisions, by 2020 marketers who do not understand or use marketing automation will be a marginal segment. The market is expected to expand, grow and, echoing Forrester's predictions about CMOs, increase in significance.
As for technology, marketing automation platforms' integration with numerous other services and technologies will further increase. This is only natural, as companies seek to create more holistic services and workflows that require a great deal of internal cohesion and synchronisation.
In turn, this will result in so-called 'marketing automation playbooks', as SiriusDecisions calls them. These 'pre-packaged plays' serve to improve efficiency by offering templates or clustered programs and tactics, to be used in particular instances of a marketing process.
Another growing trend, and in that SiriusDecisions are stating the obvious, is that we'll be seeing more dynamic websites and A/B testing. This is already a fact, there's no denying it. Now marketing automation platforms need to accommodate this trend in their services by offering ever more accessible, intelligible and automated A/B testing. It cannot be stressed enough how greatly lead generation and CRO can benefit from this, as well as from dynamic websites with a great deal of personalisation.
Gartner 2014 Predictions
In line with the above but also adding their own two cents, are Gartner's predictions. These include a strong emphasis on advocacy marketing, which Gartner think will be a big thing in 2014.
Gartner base their conclusions on the fact that the last year has seen a very strong increase in materials produced specifically about advocacy marketing. Furthermore, companies across the industry are constantly sending out such signals, so if you haven't considered advocacy marketing by now seriously, you should definitely do so now.
The rationale behind it is that people a) are generally prone to trust their peers and other users more than a company, and b) nowadays tend to make a lot more research about a brand and its products prior to actually engaging. Therefore, nurturing one's brand advocates and getting word out through them is a surefire way to drive marketing. By empowering them and giving them a voice, you are creating value for them and you.
Finally, Gartner as others, also stressed the importance and ever increasing growth of digital marketing. According to them, by 2015 50% of B2B marketing will be digital and by 2017 this will in turn lead to cutting selling expenses for companies. That, along with consumer data collection and analysis will be the reason for 5% of sales from the global 1000.
So, after revisiting the predictions for this year, do you see yourself there? Are you following any of these trends and would you say that that's the way to go? Do you feel on track or were the predictions inaccurate? Leave us a comment, we'd like to hear about your experience!