What lies ahead

Paul Nolan

Casey Stengel said “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” What’s the fun in that?

The country, nay, the world, is anxious to see what happens on Nov. 3, 2020. But plenty will occur before and after an expected record number of U.S. voters head to the polls.

Business leaders are increasingly asked to anticipate changes that will impact their industry. Will technology investments be necessary to stay competitive? Are there merger or acquisition opportunities that can catapult a company into a dominant position?

These predictions from B2B sales and marketing experts may impact decisions you make as 2019 comes to a close and 2020 looms.

MarTech consolidation

Companies will cut back on MarTech spend and focus on what actually works, says Adam Smartschan, vice president of innovation and strategy at Altitude Marketing. “Systems that don’t provide much value — think of the myriad ‘analytics packages’ that only suck basic Google Analytics data into the WordPress dashboard — are going to be abandoned in droves.”

Smartschan also expects smart marketers will become a lot more selective about the data they deem useful. “Think about search engine marketing. Do you really care about how many folks saw your PPC ad? Or is it more important to know which keywords drove the most conversions at an acceptable cost-per-acquisition? You’re going to see both in-house marketers and digital agencies think long and hard about what data they’re using to make decisions. The winning metrics are going to be things that actually affect the bottom line — not our own vanity.

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising essentially automates the bidding process using analytics data, as opposed to using traditional ad buying methods to purchase ad spots. Because the process is more streamlined with less chance of error, it typically reduces the costs of advertising. Digital marketers that can stay ahead of this trend will reap the benefits in 2020 and beyond, says Kimberly McNeil, a certified Google expert who focuses on content marketing, SEO, Adwords and analytics.

Google is aiming for 60% of digital advertising spend to go to programmatic advertising by the end of 2020. Forrester Research has predicted that a significant majority of all digital advertising spend will be programmatic over the next few years. In order to make the switch, B2B marketers must have knowledge of the process and a willingness to change their current ways of purchasing ads.

Continued rise of digital assistants

For many, 2019 was the year that “AI” became an acronym that needed no explanation. Companies are deploying AI-powered digital assistants in the workplace to automate repetitive work and boost productivity. Rather than use AI to replace humans in sales, companies are using AI platforms like Nudge and People.ai to tackle the work they should not be doing so they can focus on closing deals, says Kevin Hurley, director of marketing at Nudge.

Video marketing

A substantial chunk of B2B buyers consume video content during the purchase journey. In fact, 59% of decision-makers in a company say they prefer watching a video over reading an article or blog post.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 62% of B2B companies said that video was highly effective for driving brand awareness. It is expected that by 2022, online videos will constitute more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. Including a video in an initial email can help build a personal connection at the first point of brand contact. Videos are an ideal delivery vehicle of information for more complex B2B sales. And don’t forget to create video testimonials featuring satisfied customers for your website.  

Visit SalesandMarketing.com/Closers for additional insights on emerging trends that will impact B2B marketing and sales in 2020 and beyond. You can read Closers interviews from the past year with Jeffrey Gitomer, former professional poker player Annie Duke and Silicon Valley angel investor Chris Yeh.

Sales & Marketing Management is the leading authority for executives in the sales and marketing field.

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