As a copywriting agency serving B2B marketing agencies and big tech firms, we have a pretty good view of what’s changing and evolving in the B2B technology marketing world.
Sometimes, those changes are glaringly obvious. In 2012, for example, we saw an explosion in the amount of content our clients were commissioning us to create, as everyone seized on the content marketing opportunity.
Not only did our business double that year, we also found ourselves writing copy for many more content types than previously, including infographics, checklists, worksheets and other formats that were new to us (and to our clients). It was an exciting year with lots of new skills to learn.
Three main B2B marketing trends in 2013
We’ve now had an opportunity to check our data for 2013, to see what it tells us about how B2B tech marketing developed last year.
To me, the picture isn’t nearly as clear as 2012 (not least because it’s been a bugger getting meaningful data out of our new project management system – all credit to our operations director Sophie for painstakingly extracting it!), but there are three things I think we can deduce from the work we did.
Emily has created this Slideshare to explain them, so if words aren’t your thing, skip to the slides now. If words *are* your thing, my thoughts are ‘below the fold’.
1. Content marketing went mainstream. The vast majority of B2B marketers (93%, according to a Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey) are now using content to generate and nurture leads. Most content needs professional writing – at least if it’s going to be effective – and in 2013 we saw a surge in B2B marketing agencies coming to us for copy for their clients’ content marketing programmes. At the start of the year we had three regular agency clients; by the end, that number had increased to 10. We see a clear trend in agencies developing new content marketing services to complement existing offerings in areas like events management, telemarketing and digital marketing, and it’s been exciting to help our agency clients build their businesses in that way.
2. Lead nurturing took off. As marketers became more confident with their shiny new marketing automation software, lots of clients came to us with ambitious and complex lead-nurturing programmes designed to guide prospects through long buying cycles. For us, this meant writing copy for lots and lots of emails and landing pages promoting content to buyers in different stages of the sales funnel. We also saw a definite trend towards re-purposing content created in 2012 for re-use at different stages of the funnel. We had a lot of requests to create blog posts from white papers, infographics from survey reports, video scripts from ebooks, and so on.
3. Content got even more visual. This was a big trend in 2012, as B2B marketers got bolder and more willing to experiment with design-led, visual formats to complement – or even replace – more traditional, text-heavy white papers and case studies. It continued into 2013, a year in which we wrote more video scripts than ever before (mainly due to a drive by one of our major clients to re-purpose existing content into animated videos). Our video script work increased from less than 3% of our overall output in 2012 to more than 10% in 2013, so a clear trend there. Infographics remained popular but may have plateaued, as they only increased from 14% of our work in 2012 to 15% in 2013. And we were quite chuffed to have the chance to work on a number of comic strip projects last year; a format we think more clients will start to explore this year as a means of visual, accessible storytelling.
Hyper-specificity will be big in 2014
So if those were the main trends we saw in 2013, what’s coming up this year? That’ll be the subject of another blog post, but in brief, we’re expecting to work on more personalised content this year, more account-specific content, and more content focusing on solving very specific business problems that our clients’ end-customers may be facing. (As we discussed in our latest podcast, hyper-specificity will be a big thing in 2014.)
Plus, as the content deluge continues, we’re expecting marketers to place a greater value on high-quality content. That either means our business will explode (fingers crossed), or marketers will start to get much savvier about when to use low-cost content creation services and when to invest big bucks in intelligent, engaging and well-crafted content. Either way, we’re really looking forward to seeing what this year brings.