Three tech trends B2B marketers need to know in 2017

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This might be the bazillionth article you’ve read about 2017 trends packed with buzz words from current B2B vernacular. The difference is that I’ve included resources to help you make these trends actionable for your organization – or at least that’s my hope.

The technology underlying these trends is truly game-changing and requires close alignment and collaboration between sales and marketing. And when implemented with a well-defined strategy, it also allows marketing to have a measurable business impact, giving it an indispensable voice at the executive leadership table.

Account-Based Marketing

The concept of account-based marketing (ABM) has been around since the beginning of B2B marketing. In the simplest of terms, ABM is one-to-one marketing. It’s a strategy in which a business communicates with a prospect or customer with messages that are custom to their needs -- whether it be their industry, role, buying stage, etc. The limitation of ABM prior to the last 18 months is that it is a highly manual effort (READ: expensive) and limited to only the most strategic accounts.

New marketing technology has opened the door for businesses to market to individual accounts at scale. ABM can be used across every stage of the marketing funnel to acquire and convert customers, but most importantly, it allows marketers to measure the effectiveness of their ABM tactics and adjust accordingly.

The new ABM is in full growth mode. In fact, 89 percent of respondents in SiriusDecisions annual State of Account Based Marketing study stated that it remains “extremely” or “very” important to the success of their overall marketing programs.

There are resources abound to help business begin their ABM journey, including this e-book from DemandBase, SiriusDecisions' upcoming webcast and Account-Based Marketing for Dummies by Sangram Vajre, co-founder of Terminus, another great ABM technology provider. Its Stack Grader is an outstanding resource to determine the best tools for your ABM program.

Predictive Marketing

Predictive marketing has been the ultimate promise from the “Big Data Revolution.” Its goal is to help companies reach and convert in-market buyers more effectively. The underlying capability behind predictive marketing is to extract information from all the data you’ve been collecting about your existing customer base from various sources to create a data model to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. If you are just starting to research predictive marketing, check out EverString’s ebook.

Technologies from providers like 6Sense, Lattice Engines, EverString, ReachForce, Leadspace and about a dozen others are finally mature with integrations into B2B’s top marketing automation and CRM platforms, plus other first- and third-party data sources to model and target your ideal prospective customer.

One very innovative example is a 6Sense case study with Dell and Forbes in which the customer data sets from the brand and the publisher were combined to help Dell more effectively run campaigns that reach the right person with the right message during the buyer’s journey on the Forbes publishing network.

With a combined ABM and predictive marketing strategy, businesses are gaining a big competitive advantage. To determine your readiness for predictive marketing, Lattice Engines has a good maturity model.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has exploded in the last five years, driven by the rise of powerful bloggers, Instagrammers, and Snapchatters who have amassed millions of loyal followers and are making a measurable sales impact on behalf of the brands who sponsor their content. Engaging these digital superstars has largely been a manual process led by PR agencies. However platforms like TapInfluence, CrowdTap and Upfluence have automated the resource-intensive process of identifying, engaging and measuring programs, allowing brands to engage with influencers at scale.

Consumer brands have been the first to adopt scalable influencer marketing programs, largely because the audience and technology is there. But B2B marketing is soon to follow as these technology platforms begin attracting business influencers into their community. I am very interested to see how this takes shape as the content types will look very different for a business audience. Think e-books, whitepapers and presentations vs. a Snap or Instagram post. As with any pay/incent-for-play engagement, disclosure is key.

The Thread, will keep tabs on these and other trends as 2017 unfolds.