3 Trends That Are Shaping B2B Marketing Today

By Richard Francis

3 Trends That Are Shaping B2B Marketing Today

You can never have too many customers. So with that in mind, shouldn’t it follow suit that you can’t have enough ways to filter them into your B2B sales funnels? Or even too many sales funnels?

Well, it’s both a yes and no from me. There is no definitive route for how each business should market its product. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own way, so what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander.

As marketers, we embrace how each operation delivers differing and diverse strategies, playing to their strengths and personalizing campaigns and methodologies to maximize results.

How do you find out which B2B marketing trend will work for you?

You make a Tarzan-like dive into what’s hot and what’s not and take the ones that make sense for your operation on a test drive. These systems hit the hearts and headlines of the leading strategists, becoming the latest B2B marketing trends—and with good reason—they’ve been found to work for most of the marketing masses.

Today, we’re diving into three such strategies, each proving popular in the latest marketing trends. Whether they’re a good fit for you or not, you should pay attention to their how and whys to see if they could be.

Where’s the harm in taking any of them for a test drive? There’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

1. Google Web Stories for B2B Marketing

Hang on, stories are for Instagram and Facebook, right? And Snapchat? Not Google, surely? Google is for grown-ups!

Well, if that’s your opinion, you haven’t been listening closely enough. A few years back, Google decided, in all of its eternal wisdom and power, that, as consumers, we wanted something easier to digest and more exciting. So it started pushing AMP stories in 2015 because mobile use was where all the growth and popularity was, and optimizing for it was the predicted way forward.

And with that notion in place, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages was born. With its slightly less-than-cool-and-catchy name, it had all the best intentions of pushing for specifically generated, dynamic, and super-fast mobile content delivery.

Google continued to develop AMP until finally — with a new name that creates a connection to a format that users already understand — Google Web Stories was launched. As a marketing opportunity, it's now definitely worth a look.

Why should you engage with Google Web Stories?

  • Easy to digest, interactive, and exciting to consume.
  • Video and image-driven, creating an ideal user experience.
  • Dynamic delivery enhances the desirability of your product.
  • Unlike SM stories, their lifespan is long-term, not a 24-hour high-risk hit.
  • Again, unlike SM stories, you’re not dependent on platform limitations.
  • They’re available via various opportunities, featuring in Google Search, Discovery, and Images.
  • Use them as standalone pages, fresh content, or embedded as you would podcasts and YouTube videos—or both!
  • They’re as SEO active as regular web pages, as long as you’ve optimized them accordingly.
  • Ideal for multi-directional traffic, encouraging interactivity – With CTAs, links, ads, and more, and their own URL, you can drive traffic to and from every Google Web Story you post.
  • CTAs and links can monetize your stories – Utilize the usual web-page options, including sponsored features, ads via AdSense, Ad Manager and display ads, affiliate links, and of course, sending traffic to your product sales pages and platforms.

How do they do all that?

Unlike SM stories, you create and host your stories on your website. Of course, you’ll need a little practice to get used to the format, but that won’t take you long, we promise. Google released a great plugin for WordPress, and plenty of editors are available to build and implement pages for other platforms.

Starting with a simple storyboard, you’ll deliver premium B2B content, making the most of video files, images, animations, and favorite converting elements. Once you’ve got a few pieces under your belt, you can use them to drive direct sales and interest, push traffic to more thorough, informative blog posts, and more.

Google indexes them all, pushing pages out wherever it feels best, and of course, that’s where the SEO magic happens. So whether you use Google Stories as a standalone selling tool or as a backup for existing promotions, blogs, and posts, you’ll be bang up to date with dynamic content delivery, with a broader reach to mobile-favoring content consumers.


2. Using Dark Funnel Marketing for B2B

The dark funnel of marketing isn’t anything new but has recently become another significant avenue marketers are growing ever eager to crack, despite having little insight into measurable data.

What is the dark funnel?

For those lagging behind a little, the dark funnel is the part of your sales funnel that you can’t track. Our analytics tools and CRMs love to have a solid path of data to predict where our best conversions are coming from, but truth be told, all they measure are the most likely sources of trackable conversions.

How many sales come from unknown leads or sources without an appropriate tracking tool? We’re talking about word of mouth, social media outreach, network events, meetings, or any other avenue where your new subscriber or customer seems to have simply fallen out of the sky — according to your tracking, that is.

That’s your dark funnel, right there. Among other popular low-to-no-tracking avenues, it includes:

  • Private messaging
  • Review sites
  • Social media posts and comments
  • Podcasts
  • PR
  • The inspiration behind direct and organic search traffic
  • Offline conversations / personal word of mouth
  • Online conversations / digital word of mouth
  • Offline events
  • Online events
  • Digital conversations via text, messaging apps, or on networking platforms
  • ‘Quiet’ consumers (those who enjoy but don’t comment) of websites, YouTube, blogs, newsgroups, review sites, and online community content
  • Emails – forwarding relevant digital newsletters and content

The new illuminating fire underneath current dark funnel marketers is that many of those inquiries come from those most likely to buy. Don't believe me? Ask your sales team how many previously unknown conversions come through your web forms. It’s a lot. And with that, marketers are building strategies around where they might be coming from and reaching out to draw them in themselves.

So, where are your dark funnel customers, and how can you nudge them into your trackable systems?

Okay, they’re on social media, they’re part of online and offline communities, and they’re talking about you with their friends and colleagues, but how are you going to become part of those conversations?

Your first and simplest task is to go and join those communities, to follow the topics, trends, and people on the socials your customers do.

If you really want to know — ask

The best tool is to ask your existing and new customers—especially those who have just fallen out of the sky—how they heard about you. Adding an extra field to online forms is the simplest way to get answers from all enquirers—and don’t be put off by those who tell you adding another field will harm your inquiries. For the few who might consider it a hassle, you’ll gain so much essential information about your dark funnel—where genuine leads are hiding—you won’t care.

Create your own dark funnel avenues

You know people are talking about you; you just don’t know where. So why not start the conversations they’re engaging with yourself? That means delivering content and creating digital and physical events across all platforms and areas that attract such engagement.

Not only should it attract your hopeful ideal leads, but you’ll be in complete control of your audience, their engagement, and actions.

And that’s how you shine your light into the dark.


3. Don't rush to cut the budget. It's time to do more with less.

Everyone—panic! The world has broken! We’ve got vast global debts to repay after Covid. There’s a war waging worry on nations and the world economy. And to top it off, rising energy and fuel costs are hurting us all, every product on the shelves, and, in turn, our businesses.

Even those with the highest earning potential are likely to see a drop in finances (unless they put up their prices considerably, which adds to that flailing economy—again!).

So, we should all cut back, right? Yes! But should we? Really? Erm? Maybe? No? Politicians want us to spend, and so do the brands. But our bills and budgets tell another story pushing us in an entirely different direction.

Like those who survived the 2008 financial crisis, we need to make sensible plans to keep us afloat. But, as marketers, and possibly the first to see cuts made to our depleting budgets, how should those plans look?

For starters, we need to get creative with what we do have, filter out what we don’t use, and do more with the proven profitable mechanisms we have left in our tool belts.

Get creative with content

Anyone in your organization can create content. Okay, not everyone’s William Shakespeare or Tina Fey—depending on your brand tone and style—but you know how to nip and tuck their views into shape, so why not? You get to cut a few corners and costs yet still deliver some of your most compelling B2B content to date.

Knowing when to save and when to spend

Perhaps spring-cleaning your tech stack and subscriptions can create a little extra budget? Do you really use all your SaaS to their fullest? And are they all bringing in a higher return than they cost? Chopping out the dead wood releases an additional budget for elements with higher ROIs, or you could invest it into any areas that might be the next big light-bulb moment.

Digital was the winner during the pandemic; it’s highly likely to be the same story over the next 5 years

When the lockdowns kicked in, who won? Zoom was a massive winner. Netflix, Prime, and Disney never had so many subscribers, and profits flew through the roof. Online was the new offline for quite a while, so why not learn from those lessons and plump for digital over physical?

By cutting out printing, transport, hiring conference centers, pop-up rents, physical promotion materials, and more, savings can fund online events at a fraction of the cost.

And when it comes to delivering your reports, white papers, manuals, and other digital downloads, as well as your online content, isn’t it time to invest in new and better ways to present your latest news, stories, and information?

We can’t pass this opportunity by without dropping a shameless plug into how beneficial Foleon is for your content marketing strategy. It’s dynamic, modern, and fast-flowing; it offers an abundance of tracking opportunities; it’s easy to use, scalable, media-rich, super-quick out of the blocks, on-brand, interactive, engaging, and delivers the data you want to generate more leads.

Oh, and it’s excellent value for even the most budget conscious.


Final thoughts

This won’t be the last crisis or calamity your organization faces; that’s corporate life, after all. But for each one you survive, you’ll have learned more about what it takes and the tools you brought on board to get you there.

Keeping up to date with B2B marketing trends that will work for you should be part of your process, whether you’re facing a crisis or not.

Like we said at the top of the piece, you can never have too many customers.

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Richard Francis

Richard is Foleon's VP of Marketing. With nearly 15 years of industry experience, he's committed to bringing marketing and overall business strategy together. Focused on investment right through the funnel, he's convinced that storytelling is the core of commercial success. When he's not working, you'll find him in the garden, growing goods for the kitchen.

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