Lets be honest, there is nothing new about predicting the year ahead. By now you’ve no doubt encountered many projections for how our industry will evolve between now and December.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the goal of my commentary is to commit my own thoughts “for the record” so that I can return to these strategy KPI benchmarks later for measurement. Too many times have I said to myself “I predicted that” but had nothing in writing to validate my internal boasts. Enough said. Here is my list:
Google+ will gain serious momentum as an important B2B social channel
Omit Google+ at your own peril. As Google continues to refine search algorithms with emphasis on defining and empowering the semantic web, Google+ will emerge as a key channel for B2B research, digital conversations and audience engagement. It will fill the gap between personal conversations on Facebook and professional engagement on LinkedIn.
Organizations will begin to recognize the need to restructure for digital content creation and multi-channel delivery
Execution of digital marketing message, content and program strategies require more integrated team planning and execution. Traditional twentieth century organization structures were designed to market via non-digital processes and media. These legacy org structures represent silos and obstacles to capitalize on new tools, media and channels and blended digital strategies. The emphasis on measurement and improved marketing ROI will force organizations to recognize the need for structural re-alignment. Not much change will occur in 2014 but the conversation will escalate.
The document-first approach to content creation will begin its decline as the content strategies adopt a content engineering approach to optimize for multiple channels and media
Creating a white paper and then having a discussion about additional ways to leverage or “repurpose” the document is not enough. Repurposing of flagship documents, webinars, etc. will be replaced by a process that strategically plans and designs for multi-channel digital distribution rather than retro-development of a single tactic. While this won’t yet gain significant momentum, the conversation will evolve away from repurposing to strategic multi-purposing and execution in the planning stage.
Momentum for the Marketing Technologist and Data Scientist will soar
The importance of technology and user experience in any digital engagement cannot be ignored. As technology is now the delivery path for content, services and applications, achieving meaningful, audience-valued interactions will require greater collaboration and alignment between IT, marketing and other groups. Combined with the need to capture business value from volumes of data and continued pressure for meaningful marketing metrics, these two roles will be instrumental in the maturity of these goals while acting as liaisons between the traditional CMO v. CIO non-conversation.
Video will receive a greater percentage of marketing budget and will grow as a preferred communication media.
Video has reached the precipice of business acceptance. It is recognized as a powerful communications tool, but it has yet to be leveraged in practice. Barriers limiting daily video use such as the networks ability to deliver quality video, ease of adoption and creation, and user experience are falling. Video as the “killer app” is ready to assume a dominant role in business communications in ways most do not yet see.
APIs and digital platform consolidation will emerge as vital to content strategy
Context and rationalization of content aligned with both audience personas and the sales cycle are important competitive differentiators for business. To connect ‘the right’ resources that bring contextual value to the marketing mix will place increased emphasis on APIs. Consolidation of disconnected information and content sources will take time but the trend will be to recognize the need and begin a process of integration not previously acknowledged.
Curation will grow, but successful integration within messaging and content will remain dormant
There is too much content to manage and consume. Period. Automation of the process has matured and gained momentum, but only a very small minority will go the extra mile to truly optimize and integrate it within their content creation and delivery strategies.
Social listening will become a budget line item
Business is social. Social listening will soon be deemed a requirement, not an option. Recognizing that peer-to-peer conversations impact every target audience and with the integration of social into customer service platforms, listening will be emphasized. The challenge for B2B will be timely response due to lack of strategy and structure.
Apps will proliferate and have a significant impact on experience design and will influence web interface design
I see this everywhere already so maybe it’s not a fair prediction, but mobile apps have forced digital designers to jump out of their interface design box. This is long over-due and I’m thankful to mobile for a better user experience and more visual delivery of digital content. Many thanks to Apple and Ideo in particular for igniting this evolution.
Engagement goals will lead to more B2B focus and emphasis on brand communities.
Business has recognized the value of social channels and is now committed to respond. Two trends are inevitable – brand community growth and increased emphasis on measurable KPIs of this activity.
Branded communities will be the natural strategy for most mid-sized and large B2Bs. Why? Because most these brands find it hard not to focus on themselves and because it will be easier for them to manage KPIs in communities they control. The majority will not gain much traction however, because users will gravitate to communities of interest and not communities of brand.
What do you think? please share thoughts and comments.
Great post Youngblood! My prediction is that customer engagement strategies will be at the top of the list for B2B. Making marketing activities and interactions worth participating in will be the goal. I foresee the use of different communication channels for celebrating clients by giving them a chance in the spotlight, connecting them with customer service sessions, giveaways and contests, and free product demos.
Thanks Patrick, great insight and customer focused approach. Interconnecting all the channels for the convenience of customers is critical – they want to interact on their terms, not those dictated by the business.
If you have a chance, I recently wrote a post focused on customer service centers that is aligned with your basic thought (although I never considered the celebration aspect; I like that element a lot).