Connected data will be king and ABM will take over as a core platform but the tired old persona-based advertising will die in the coming year.
As we close out 2018, most of us have already been spending the last couple of months (at least!) thinking about 2019. And as I think about the coming year, I think about “what’s next” for B2B marketers. This gets more and more challenging each year, because the pace of change has accelerated each year. But that’s also why B2B has become such an exciting and dynamic market during the past several years.
So, here are five trends I predict will be hot for B2B marketers in 2019.
1. ABM will become a core platform for marketers in the martech stack
While CRM is the system of record for all sales activity and marketing automation systems are used by almost all sophisticated B2B marketers, each carries well known limitations. In particular, both focus on known, individual contacts. In an account-based world, that’s not enough. As a result, ABM platforms are quickly becoming the third leg to the B2B marketing tech stack. Together with CRM and marketing automation solutions, B2B marketers can span individual to account, and known to unknown in their marketing and sales activities.
2. Connected data will be king
With a fragmented martech landscape, it’s easy to understand why customer information can become siloed. Getting a true 360-degree view of the customer has been a challenge that has plagued marketers since the beginning of marketing. But connecting customer data across different marketing technologies is getting closer to becoming a reality for many marketers.
By integrating technologies such as CRM, marketing automation, and ABM platforms, marketers can start to share data across these applications. And this will start to give marketers the complete customer view that we have craved.
3. We’ll stop talking about Artificial Intelligence
For B2B marketers, AI has been front and center of the conversation for the past couple of years. That’s about to change. Not because AI is going away. It’s just becoming a given- a set of underlying technology that is just “there”. Like electricity. AI will become an accepted (and expected) part of all marketing, advertising and sales technology. We’ll stop talking about it watch just let it work its magic in 2019, such as anticipating which content or messages visitors to a website will find most useful at each stage of their buying journey. There are almost a limitless number of applications for AI in marketing. And 2019 will be the year that AI based becomes like a utility for B2B marketers.
4. Next best action will become feasible at scale
Marketers have long talked about taking the ideal next best action when it comes to marketing programs based on where people are in the buying cycle. But it’s been impossible to achieve without massive amounts of data being synthesized by AI in real time. Humans just can’t process that amount of information. The emergence of AI means that automated next best action triggered based on specific activity in the buying cycle will become a reality in 2019.’
5. Persona-based advertising is dead
For years B2B advertisers have used personas as a proxy for reaching the right audience: their target buyers and influencers. But personas used for advertising amount to little more than guesswork in terms of who you actually reach, so marketers waste a huge amount of money on poorly targeted ads each year. B2B advertising is one of the last frontiers of marketing to be modernized but is finally undergoing a massive transformation that will significantly improve performance and the efficiency of ad dollars. By combining an immediate understanding of the accounts marketers want to target and sophisticated intent data to identify the buying committee within those accounts, B2B advertising can achieve precision and scale in 2019. And finally replace the tired old personas that we’ve been forced to use.