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Navigating the B2B Marketing Landscape in 2018: Channel Insights

B2B Marketing Channels Overview

Marketing channels are the paths that products take from their initial creation to the final consumer. When it comes to business-to-business (B2B) marketing, the channels used can significantly impact the success of your marketing efforts. Understanding the key channels for B2B marketing in 2018 can provide a valuable foundation for your future strategies.

Global Survey Insights

A comprehensive survey conducted worldwide from March 24 to May 5, 2023, involving 1,954 B2B leaders, offered enlightening insights into the marketing channels that B2B marketers planned to adopt that year. These insights provide valuable data to B2B companies looking to align their channel marketing strategies with global trends. It’s important to note that while these statistics provide a snapshot of the marketing landscape in 2018, strategies must continually evolve to meet changing market dynamics and customer preferences. For more recent data, you might want to look at our insights on b2b marketing channels in 2022 and projections for b2b marketing channels in 2023.

Marketing Channel Adoption Rate (%)
Content Marketing 96
Social Media Marketing 92
Email Marketing 87
SEO 80
Influencer Marketing 65
Video Marketing 64
Webinars 59
Affiliate Marketing 45

Trends in B2B Marketing Channels

The data from the global survey highlights several key trends for B2B marketing channels in 2018.

Content marketing emerged as the most widely adopted channel, with 96% of respondents incorporating it into their strategies. This underscores the growing recognition of content as a powerful tool for engaging target audiences, building brand credibility, and fostering customer relationships in the B2B space.

Social media marketing and email marketing also featured prominently, adopted by 92% and 87% of respondents respectively. These channels provide versatile platforms for delivering tailored messaging, promoting engagement, and nurturing leads.

Meanwhile, search engine optimization (SEO) was leveraged by 80% of respondents, reflecting the importance of visibility in online searches for attracting and converting potential customers.

Influencer marketing, video marketing, webinars, and affiliate marketing were less widely adopted but still represented important components of the B2B marketing mix.

These trends indicate that successful B2B companies in 2018 were adopting a multi-channel approach, leveraging a mix of traditional and digital channels to reach their target audiences. This aligns with our insights on b2b multi-channel marketing and b2b omni-channel marketing, highlighting the importance of an integrated approach for maximizing reach and impact.

Understanding these trends in B2B marketing channels offers valuable insights for shaping your future strategies. However, it’s essential to continually monitor changes in the marketing landscape, adapting your strategies to align with evolving customer behaviors, technological advancements, and market dynamics. For more on this, you may find our article on channel marketing B2B useful.

Winning Strategies for B2B Companies

Navigating the evolving B2B marketing landscape in 2018 requires a multi-faceted approach, powered by innovative sales and marketing tactics and a deep understanding of data analytics. Let’s explore these strategies in detail.

The Multiplier Effect

The B2B companies that are outperforming their competitors are those that provide an exceptional omnichannel experience. According to McKinsey, businesses employing this strategy are witnessing an increase in their market share by at least 10 percent annually. This phenomenon, known as the multiplier effect, underscores the power and potential of a well-executed omnichannel strategy in the B2B sphere.

An omnichannel approach enables you to deliver a seamless customer experience across multiple platforms. Whether your customers interact with your brand through your website, a third-party marketplace, or a physical store, they should receive a consistent and personalized experience. More detailed information on omnichannel strategies for B2B companies can be found in our guide on b2b omni channel marketing.

Modern Sales and Marketing Tactics

Success in the B2B marketing landscape of 2018 is not just about offering a seamless, omnichannel experience. The winning businesses are those that are simultaneously employing five major modern sales and marketing tactics. These include deploying advanced sales technology, increasing hybrid sales teams and capabilities, delivering hyperpersonalization, tailoring strategies on third-party marketplaces, and achieving e-commerce excellence across the full marketing and sales funnel.

These tactics offer a powerful combination. When employed together, they can significantly boost your market share and customer satisfaction levels. You can find more insights on these tactics in our article on b2b channel marketing strategy.

Importance of Analytics and Personalization

Data analytics and personalization play a crucial role in modern B2B marketing. According to McKinsey, 59 percent of companies whose market share grew by more than 10 percent in the past year introduced new sales technologies.

The use of analytics allows for highly personalized marketing and sales interactions, which have proven to be a game-changer for winning B2B sales organizations, irrespective of industry. In fact, the market share winners are 55 percent more likely to be planning to introduce cutting-edge sales technology.

Analytics and personalization create a more tailored and impactful experience for your customers. By understanding and leveraging customer data, you can create personalized messages and offers that resonate with your customers, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates. Learn more about the role of analytics in B2B marketing in our article on b2b marketing channels 2023.

Evolution of B2B Marketing

The dynamic business landscape of 2018 presented a new set of challenges and opportunities for B2B marketers. The strategies used in previous years were not as effective, and new tactics had to be implemented to stay competitive. Here, we delve into the shift in strategies, the focus on demand generation, and the pivotal role of content marketing in the B2B marketing landscape of 2018.

Shifting Strategies in 2018

The future of B2B marketing constantly evolved in 2018 as marketers adapted to new tools and information available to them (Edelman). This was the year where traditional marketing methods started to give way to more advanced, data-driven approaches. Marketers found themselves navigating through a maze of analytics and algorithms, with the goal of understanding their audience better and delivering more personalized experiences. The shift was from a broad, one-size-fits-all marketing approach to a more tailored, individualized strategy. This trend would continue to shape b2b marketing channels 2019 and beyond.

Focus on Demand Generation

One of the key shifts in B2B marketing in 2018 was the focus towards demand generation. Demand generation, which focuses on creating and capturing demand effectively, became a major priority for marketers as opposed to just generating leads. This strategy involved a deeper understanding of the customer’s journey and a more targeted approach in reaching out to potential clients. It meant attracting the right customers, at the right time, with the right message. Understanding the nuances of demand generation became crucial in formulating an effective b2b channel marketing strategy.

Role of Content Marketing

Content marketing played a crucial role in B2B marketing in 2018. According to a report, the use of content marketing strategies increased from 86% in 2017 to 91% in 2018 among B2B marketers (source). Content marketing was not just about creating and sharing content. It was about creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a clearly defined audience.

Social media platforms were the most commonly used content marketing tactics, with 83% of B2B marketers using them in 2018. Content marketing’s effectiveness was evident as 72% of B2B marketers believed that it increased engagement and led to more successful relationships with customers.

In 2018, 90% of B2B marketers stated that their organizations were extremely or very committed to content marketing (source). The most successful B2B marketers allocated a larger percentage of their marketing budget to content marketing compared to other less successful marketers. This demonstrated the growing recognition of content marketing as a critical component of an effective marketing strategy.

This evolution in B2B marketing strategies in 2018 set the stage for future trends in b2b marketing channels 2019 and b2b marketing channels 2022. As marketers, keeping up with these shifts and adapting your strategies accordingly is key to staying competitive in the ever-changing B2B landscape.

Digital Marketing Trends in B2B

As you navigate the B2B marketing landscape in 2018, it’s important to consider the emerging digital marketing trends that are shaping the industry. This section will cover three significant trends: influencer marketing in India, the rise of artificial intelligence, and the impact of video marketing.

Influencer Marketing in India

Influencer marketing has taken center stage in India, which is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing digitally enabled consumer markets. In fact, the influencer marketing industry was valued at over INR 12 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach INR 28 billion by 2026, with an expected annual growth rate of 25% in the next five years (Emeritus).

With over a billion mobile phone users and more than 500 million social media subscribers, the potential to reach and influence a large audience through this channel is significant. This trend underscores the importance of utilizing omnichannel marketing strategies to deliver seamless user experiences across all channels.

Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another trend that’s transforming the B2B marketing landscape. AI applications like machine learning and deep learning are being used for various customer and marketing-related activities including content creation, ad monitoring, and interacting with customers.

It’s projected that AI will add $450-$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025 (Emeritus). This demonstrates the potential of AI to revolutionize marketing practices, from personalized content delivery to predictive analytics.

Video Marketing Impact

Video marketing is becoming an increasingly potent digital marketing tool. Social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook have integrated short video-format content into their algorithms to help brands reach their target audience effectively.

Videos are believed to be more effective than other digital marketing mediums (Emeritus), making it a powerful tool for your B2B marketing strategy. As a result, there’s a growing trend towards incorporating video content into marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C marketers.

These digital marketing trends are shaping not only the B2B marketing channels of 2018, but also influencing the marketing strategies for years to come. By staying informed and adapting to these trends, you can ensure that your marketing efforts remain relevant and effective.

Content Marketing Strategies

In the dynamic landscape of B2B marketing, the importance of content can’t be overstated. It’s a key vehicle for communicating with potential customers and setting your company apart from the competition. Let’s explore some effective content marketing strategies that were prominent in the ‘b2b marketing channels 2018’ landscape and continue to hold relevance.

Long-Form Content Effectiveness

Long-form content has been found to be more effective than short-form content for both B2B and B2C marketers. This insight underscores the importance of incorporating long-form content into your digital marketing strategies (Emeritus).

Long-form content, such as white papers, case studies, and in-depth blog posts, offers comprehensive information that can help potential customers make informed decisions. This type of content can establish your company as an industry leader and trusted resource, thereby strengthening your brand’s reputation.

To leverage long-form content effectively, ensure that it is well-researched, professionally written, and provides valuable insights. Remember, the goal is not merely to fill space but to provide meaningful content that resonates with your target audience.

Social Media Tactics

Social media platforms are among the most commonly used content marketing tactics, with 83% of B2B marketers using them in 2018. Given their extensive reach and diverse user base, these platforms provide an excellent opportunity to engage with potential customers and promote your brand.

To optimize your social media strategy, consider the following tactics:

  • Use LinkedIn for thought leadership and networking
  • Leverage Twitter for customer service and real-time updates
  • Use Facebook to showcase your company culture and humanize your brand
  • Utilize Instagram for visual storytelling and behind-the-scenes content

Remember to tailor your content to suit the platform and audience. Monitor the engagement levels of your posts to determine which types of content resonate best with your audience and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Importance of Data Integrity

Maintaining data integrity was one of the top challenges for B2B marketers in 2018 (Oktopost). Accurate data is crucial for personalizing your content and tailoring your messaging to engage with your audience effectively.

To maintain data integrity:

  • Adopt data cleansing services to keep your data updated and accurate.
  • Conduct internal data audits to identify errors and inconsistencies.
  • Use duplicate lead identifiers in your CRM platform to prevent data duplication.

By ensuring data integrity, you can develop targeted content strategies that resonate with your audience and drive engagement. Remember, content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort and adaptation to evolving market conditions. Stay ahead of the curve by continuously monitoring trends in b2b marketing channels and adapting your strategies accordingly.

Addressing B2B Marketing Challenges

In 2018, B2B marketers dealt with many challenges in their quest to effectively use b2b marketing channels. Here, we’ll look at some of these challenges and the strategies B2B companies adopted to overcome them.

Data Integrity Maintenance

One of the top challenges for B2B marketers was maintaining data integrity. Frequent changes in the basic information of prospects, customers, and partners made it difficult to tailor messaging and engage meaningfully. To tackle this, marketers adopted data cleansing services like Acxiom, conducted internal data audits, and used duplicate lead identifiers in CRM platforms.

CRM and Social Media Integration

Integrating CRM with social media presented a significant challenge due to the vast amount of data provided by social networks. To address this, Oktopost offered native integration with Salesforce. This enabled B2B marketers to push social data into custom Salesforce dashboards and reports, providing a comprehensive view of the marketing ecosystem (Oktopost).

Sales and Marketing Alignment

The challenge of aligning sales and marketing teams was prominent in B2B marketing in 2018. To overcome this hurdle, companies started using shared CRM dashboards. This allowed both sales and marketing to have visibility into qualified leads and conversions, creating new opportunities automatically for qualified leads and fostering better synergy between the two teams (Oktopost).

GDPR Compliance

With the advent of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in 2018, B2B marketers faced the challenge of adhering to these new rules. To ensure compliance, marketers took steps to understand GDPR requirements, used system tags in CRM to flag contacts in EU member states, and implemented tighter opt-in and opt-out controls for EU contacts (Oktopost).

Measuring Marketing ROI

Measuring marketing Return on Investment (ROI) remained a significant challenge for B2B marketers. To measure ROI effectively, marketers started using CRM to track the first touch a lead had with the company. They also began attributing closed opportunities to marketing success and correlating marketing programs to broader business goals (Oktopost).

Overcoming these challenges was crucial to the successful implementation of B2B marketing strategies in 2018. As we move forward, it is important to keep learning from these experiences and continue finding innovative solutions for future challenges. To learn more about the current state of B2B marketing channels, check out our b2b marketing channels 2022 report.

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