7 B2B sales and marketing trends to note in 2014

This year is rapidly coming to a close, which means it’s time to look ahead to the Internet marketing methods that will have a major impact in 2014. You should pay attention to the following trends in the coming year:

1. Content marketing will only grow in popularity

It has been said that content is king, but in 2014, only high-quality content will reign supreme. Recent changes to Google’s algorithms have moved sharply away from keyword-driven search engine optimization, which means well-written content that delivers value to viewers is what will receive better search rankings. Inbound marketing techniques that rely on education to draw prospects in rather than leaning too heavily on keywords or sales pitches are already boosting results and lowering costs per lead for many companies, according to Business 2 Community.

2. Visual content is on the rise

While many marketers are racing to increase their budgets for content, it’s important not to neglect visual storytelling next year. As B2B buyers consume more content, they may be fatigued with reading long blocks of text. Videos, infographics and photos will all see a jump in importance in 2014. However, it won’t be enough to offer visually appealing content. All marketing materials will need to tell a story that relates back to your brand.

3. The use of analytics will increase

Many companies are still struggling to recover from the recession, which means they are carefully considering all business purchases with analytical evidence, Customer Think said. Businesses are trying to gain greater visibility into what they need to run a successful enterprise, and this will come through in the ways they engage with sales pitches. Your representatives can expect increased involvement of stakeholder teams when they communicate with organizations.

4. End users will have a greater say in purchasing decisions

Since many business purchases have a significant role in employee productivity, the end users will be more involved in the sales negotiation process. Because of this trend, B2B user reviews may grow in popularity, similar to how feedback functions in consumer-facing organizations.

5. There is no selling process, only the buying process

The Internet has already revolutionized how B2B buyers engage with organizations and sales reps, Business 2 Community stated. Buyers do not engage with sales managers until much later in the process, and they are often the ones to initiate contact when they are ready to negotiate. By this point, buyers have already educated themselves on different vendors and product options. This is why informative content has never been more important for Internet lead generation.

6. Sales response time needs to be shorter

Nothing will sink the results of a lead generation campaign faster than not following up as soon as possible. Business 2 Community noted that more than half of all leads are never called. You need to tighten up the process of marketers passing leads to sales. If a prospect reaches out, a sales rep needs to respond as soon as possible to avoid a lost sale. Some research has indicated prospects will select the vendor that delivers the fastest response. Even waiting a few hours to call a lead back can impact your ability to close the sale.

7. Greater use of online marketing systems to alleviate challenges

B2B buyers are growing more empowered all the time, which means your marketing and sales teams need to adapt their practices. One way some organizations are dealing with the changing buying cycle is by implementing technology, such as marketing automation. These tools can help marketers align content to the customer journey and nurture leads.

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