December 19, 2018


by: shelwen elliott


Tags: B2B Marketing


Categories: B2B Marketing

Five Surprising Things We Learnt About B2B Marketing in 2018

Today we’re taking the time to summarise five of the most impactful trends in digital marketing that we’ve observed this year.

‘Is it August already’ was months ago, and before you know it another exciting year has passed! The QliQ team hope it has been as positive a year for you as it has for us.

As we’ve seen mirrored in the headlines, it’s been a year of data. We’re now seeing increasing use of AI and algorithms in almost every area of marketing and entrepreneurship.

It hasn’t stopped there, though. 2018 saw the marketing community armed with increasingly sophisticated ways to implement new highly-targeted campaigns, such as content marketing, predictive analytics and ABM.

Let’s get to it!

1. Account-Based Marketing

We’ve talked about account-based B2B marketing before on the QliQ blog, and the importance of account-based marketing (ABM) hasn’t dwindled since.

2018 has proved a bumper year for the channel, with the principles of high investment into small volume, high-value prospects being steadily reinforced and improved with the advances in AI and machine learning, which we’ll talk about more in the next point.

As successful as ABM has been in 2018, it has proved challenging for some businesses and agencies to let go of the fear of losing broader access to their markets as a result of embracing ABM.

Disruptive changes are relative to each company, and despite ABM’s ability to tap into high-value accounts and prospects, the inherent difference between it and more traditional marketing methods has limited its adaptation on a grand scale. In 2019, we’re excited to continue to use ABM and to see its wider adaptation by businesses worldwide.

2. Predictive Analytics

AI and machine learning: here to stay, and getting closer to Skynet every day!

These new tools didn’t exactly change the basics in 2018, but they have improved the overall value proposition of methods like ABM, and they have made it possible for a wider range of businesses to benefit. Now, even SMEs can make use of tools like machine learning to create hyper-defined prospects lists for their sales teams, for instance.

In short, predictive analytics uses AI-based data and tech to help more businesses define market demand, reduce noise when sourcing prospects, increase personalisation in messaging, and help closing deals.

Critically, this greater and more qualitative reach is more affordable now than ever before. Everyone’s a winner.

3. Content Marketing

From ‘nice to have’ to vital in such a short space of time! Even as little as a few years ago, we saw content marketing move from side project status to the main focus of marketing teams across the globe.

Nowadays it sits firmly alongside traditional projects and responsibilities. Customised, relevant engagement was expected in 2018 more than ever, regardless of format, and the business community responded in kind with record-breaking investment in the method.

Content marketing is now worth hundreds of billions of Pounds worldwide and is expected to grow by as much as 14% each year until 2021, depending on which study you read.

The increasingly dominant millennial market suits the format. We know from a 2015 study that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional forms of advertisement, being influenced instead by content on platforms such as Snapchat. We saw that trend reflected this year to great effect.

4. Virtual & Augmented Reality

Two similar industries that have risen quickly in prominence in 2018. Going from science fiction to real business use cases in just a few years, we’ve been impressed with the powerful but turbulent start this subject has seen of late.

Business to business (B2B) saw the largest increase in use of VR throughout 2018, particularly in industries with complicated, high-value sales and business development cycles, such as construction. We’ve seen AR and VR headsets crop up in many a marketing expo, and even the B2C scene has flourished, with areas like the tourism industry using virtual reality to entice and delight customers. Interesting examples include the creation of a virtual reality airshow for Fujitsu by our partner video & VR agency I-MOTUS.

While it’s been exciting for VR and AR in 2018, the years ahead could go anywhere. There are plenty of ideas, such as virtual reality webinars and interactive augmented reality offices, that will be thrown against the wall. We hope some stick properly!

5. Big business to business (B2B) changes

The wider B2B scene saw shifts in priorities across 2018. Traditionally more the realm of B2C, the B2B market is now increasingly changing to reflect – and profit from – the new core values of purchasers and decision makers.

We saw it this year in a few key places. B2B organisations are upholding brand values and are involving themselves more in the delicate subject of politics and corporate social responsibility. This is mirrored in an increase in investment in social media platforms and employee engagement – important factors in increasing a brand’s reach.

Marketing accountability has continued to grow in importance, particularly with so many tools in the arsenal of digital marketers. With more data points, metrics and terminology than ever, it’s been a year where the best and brightest have focused on demonstrating and defining tangible ROI.

Fancy a helping hand?

Food for thought from the QliQ team! It’s been an exciting and turbulent year for marketing, and we hope this summary of the key trends has been helpful for you.

If you’d like to ask questions or talk about your marketing plans with us, we’re always happy to chat. You can contact us here.

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year, and we’ll see you on the other side in 2019!