The virtual landscape is constantly evolving, and with it, also evolve different types of services and businesses. The business-to-business community is among the ones to profit the most from these changes. B2B, also referred to as e-Biz, represents the exchange of information, services and products between consumers and companies. At first, interest was mainly centered on the growth of retailing, but it is forecasted that B2B revenue will soon exceed that of B2C (business-to-consumers). There are several services & marketing trends predicted for 2015, but before we take a look at them, here are the main categories of B2B websites:
- Specialized/Vertical Industry Portals: Simply put, these portals create ‘sub-webs’ of information, discussions, forums, features and product listings. They generally serve a broader purpose than simply procuring sits.
- Information sites/Infomediaries: As the name states, infomediaries provide information about various industries, companies and their employees. They often consists of search sites and trade-and-industry standards organizations.
- Brokering Sites: Some websites act as intermediaries between customers and providers, employees and employers etc. They handle the needs for specific services, equipment and work-force. They are all about networking.
- Procurement Exchanges/Product Supply: On these types of Websites, Company purchasing agents can find supplies from various vendors, or bid for desired purchases. Product supply B2B services are also referred to as e-procurement websites.
Of course, B2B sites don’t necessarily need to fall only into one category. They are still evolving, and are capable of encompassing various functions. Here are the latest Trends in B2B Marketing for 2015, as reported by SocialMediaToday.
#1 Simplification of Marketing Process
The only way to optimize the workflow of Marketing and Sales departments is by making sure that they no longer operate isolated. Specialists expect companies to reach across departments and different geographic locations and work together in order to establish a more powerful marketing message.
We will see a more conscious effort to bring disparate groups to the table to learn how to collaborate across screens, channels, and moments of truth to deliver ONE experience to customers wherever they are in the lifecycle. – Brian Solis
#2 More Focus on Connecting with the Audience
Content and services are not designed for search engines and robots. They are designed for humans, and marketers should do well to remember this. In the next year we should expect to see B2B marketers connecting with their audience more effectively. According to Tim Washer, of Cisco Systems, 2015 will be the ‘year of humor in digital marketing’. Vulnerability, honesty and silliness are only some of the ways to earn a customer’s trust and loyalty.
Another example would be that of Todays Growth Consultant, which has created a dedicated page to thank its partners and associates for all the work they have done, all for the sake of improving business relationships. In addition to this, Lizetta Staplefoote believes that micro-targeting, through creation of effective buyer personas and avatars, will lead to more motivated customers in the B2B landscape.
#3 Understanding How the Technology of Digital Marketing Works
Jason Miller has propelled an interesting concept into the virtual medium. According to him, quality content is just as important as understanding how digital marketing works, and how it can affect results.
“The ability to understand how front end web development and coding can affect, enhance, and optimize a content strategy will become a necessity for marketers instead of a nice to have.”
#4 Marketing as Education
B2B buyers (and buyers in general) require as much information as possible before they can make an educated purchase. It is important for companies to make customers understand exactly how a product will help them. For example, B2B marketers should make it easier for prospects to overcome obstacles, solve problems or grow their businesses. Information like this will lead to more credible audiences and engaged prospects.
#5 Even More Focus on Security
Security has always been an important issue for technology brands. The problem of protecting privacy and storing data securely is of vital importance. While this is not a completely new trend, it is definitely an aspect that B2B marketers will be focusing on in 2015. According to Forrester’s 2014 Technology Trends, brands that were not properly protected lost roughly 10 million dollars for every data breach. But at this point this is no longer a problem of money, but of credibility: every data breach will reflect negatively on a company, so it is imperative to prevent them from happening.