As we wrap up 2017, it’s time to think about top priorities for the new year. Instead of planning for 2018 when you’re already starting it in January, the most prepared B2B marketers already have priorities identified and plans for execution come January 1. We reached out to B2B marketers across different industries and asked them the following question:
What are B2B marketers prioritizing in their 2018 budget?
Their answers ranged depending on their industry, but we found that most were interested in attempting new strategies and techniques for the B2B market, like artificial intelligence, paid social media campaigns, and virtual reality, while others wanted to focus budget dollars on tried-and-true tactics that work. This includes account-based marketing and expanding their pipelines.
There was also some middle ground between innovation and existing opportunities. Data was mentioned several times by our experts as something they want to focus on in the coming year. It’s clear advances in cloud data and data visualization is quickly becoming invaluable to B2B marketers.
Samantha Stone, Author, Founder & CMO, The Marketing Advisory Network
As we go into 2018 marketers must make data integrity a higher priority. This includes investing in data quality processes against internal data sets but also acquiring and integrating third-party data. It is the foundation for not only gaining insight but also for maximizing value out of the technologies we have already purchased. Account-based marketing, AI-driven campaigns, and new AR/VR immersive experiences all collect and depend on information to drive growth.
Anita Brearton, Founder and CEO, CabinetM
For CabinetM, at our stage of development, expanding our pipeline is our top priority. For us, the best way to do that is to deliver tangible value to our entire community (free and paid) by helping our users stay on top of the latest in marketing technology. We do that through our weekly newsletter, which is easy to scan quickly, vendor briefing reports, and in-site messaging. Our best prospects generally start as non-paid subscribers. Our focus for 2018 will be on attracting more users to the site, we’ll be investing in marketing automation and other marketing avenues and technologies that can help us drive and convert traffic.
Sitting at the epicenter of the marketing technology world we have the opportunity to talk to marketing teams of all shapes and sizes about their marketing technology stacks. Some of the priorities we see across companies for 2018 are:
- Managing GDPR requirements
- Establishing a “source of truth” for customer data (centralized or distributed) as a foundation for digital transformation
- Improving personalization through the refinement of buyer personas and customer journeys.
Elena Britton, Head of US Marketing, Indusa
One of our main marketing KPIs is qualified leads. As more buyers are turning to online tools for professional services providers, we’ve made a great investment over the past year in SEO; we’ve had over 100% growth in our organic traffic and we will continue to invest there for 2018. We’re also now pushing our paid digital strategy in SEM, online display, and content syndication more holistically and strategically so more investments in those channels are increasingly important to us.
While investing in these channels is important, being able to communicate the right message to the buyer that resonates with them is equally as important so investing in research is going to play more of a role in our budget more than before because empirical data will allow us to meet or exceed our goals rather than thoughts and assumptions.
Markus Reutner, Digital Marketing Manager, Emarsys
Being huge fans of good data – which doesn’t come as a big surprise working for a martech company – we see data quality being the key to properly assess the impact of our marketing dollars. Correct data capture and clear attribution rules – online and offline – help us understand… how performance and branding campaigns impact the bottom line and which ones work best for us. We will see a shift toward even stronger account-based strategies across a multitude of functional groups, significantly impacting budgets.
A recent research report that we released at Ascend2, Marketing Technology ROI, revealed that marketing technology is achieving ROI in 4-6 months. I love that I can make an investment in January and reap the rewards before I leave for summer vacation! So I’m investing in technology and specifically technology that helps me with predictive modeling and data management.
Jason Hsaio, Co-Founder and Chief Video Officer, Animoto
2018 is the year to dedicate more resources to video marketing — or allocate marketing dollars to get started if you haven’t yet. To capture consumer attention in 2018, brands need to be sharing their stories on social media, as platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer access to huge audiences (2.1 billion people are using Facebook every month) – and those audiences are hungry for video, with 500 million people watching videos on Facebook every day.
The rise in video creation tools such as Animoto means that video creation is also accessible to marketers of all skill levels, and the marketing spend will be worth the investment; businesses that prioritize video will see a direct impact on their bottom line as our research shows 64 percent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video.
Dianna Huff, Founder and President, Huff Industrial Marketing, Inc.
Since we work with small industrial manufacturers, my company is putting time and effort into becoming a member of and participating more with statewide business organizations in New Hampshire, where we’re located. These organizations have solid connections and good relationships with the state’s manufacturers, and they’re working to address the issues manufacturers face. By attending events, we can meet the movers and shakers – as well as learn how we can help manufacturers better use marketing to solve some of their challenges.
Katy Katz, Director of Account Strategy, Marketing Refresh
Our biggest consideration for marketing budgets in 2018 is identifying opportunities to reduce overall customer acquisition cost (CAC) for our clients – not just lead cost, but actual customer cost. This requires us to put time into a comprehensive closed-loop reporting strategy but really allows us to optimize the marketing budgets.
The shakeout of how this looks for each client varies but there are some trends that I foresee for 2018. For example, on the paid side, many of our clients get a much lower cost per lead (CPL), and consequently CAC, with paid social over paid search. Where it’s prudent, we are making these adjustments. We are also working in 2018 to streamline marketing inefficiencies with tools so that we can spend more time building strategies and less time on work that can be automated (such as reporting).
Like previous years, my B2B clients are continuing to invest in content development, but I have noticed a shift in how it’s used! They are now prioritizing content for ABM, seeking assets (both digital and print) that can be used to engage specific accounts or key cohorts of accounts. This comes with an investment in tools to support ABM, and data to clean up and enhance their account intelligence.
Tricia Travaline, Chief Marketing Officer, Skyword
At Skyword, we’re investing in our brand purpose and brand story. Story is the glue that connects your brand purpose, business goals, content strategy, and always-on editorial strategy—key elements of your overall marketing strategy. And story is the only differentiator in a noisy market. That’s why we’re developing brand storylines that will drive powerful engagement across our website, events, product launches, and demand generation efforts.
Bart Mroz, Co-Founder and CEO, SUMO Heavy
Marketers need to shift their spending from traditional channels like TV, print, and PPC to social media in 2018, especially when marketing to millennials. But in order to effectively use social media and move the needle, brands need to focus on the right channels and invest money into these platforms.
Facebook and Instagram are both strong options because of their high engagement rates, robust targeting options, and popularity with younger demographics. Brands should still focus on Facebook, but pay much more attention to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to better engage with younger audiences in the long run.
What are you focusing on for 2018?
Thank you to all of our marketing experts for their insight as we go into the new year. If you’d like help with your B2B marketing strategy or don’t know where to go next, shoot us an email to see how we can help!
All photos provided by experts or LinkedIn. Featured image made on Canva.