Tis the season to be jolly, eat turkey, and start getting your new year in order. That can mean ambitious/unattainable new year’s resolutions, but for us it means mulling over how B2B content marketing has changed in 2017, and what we can expect to see over the coming year.
As always, we’ve collected opinions from across the Radix team, as well as some of our friends in the industry to try and get a view of how 2018 will shape up.
Last year, we saw predictions and wishes for better, more integrated metrics and data across campaigns, more VR and ABM content, and a sharper focus on who content should actually serve.
In this blog, you’ll see which wishes came true, which didn’t, and what other trends our team noticed throughout 2017. You’ll also see what the future of B2B marketing may hold according to team Radix:
Fiona: in-depth blogs, and the rise and rise of ABM
Over the past year we’ve seen a huge change in attitude towards blogs. Once they were considered cheap “filler” to attract search traffic, and nothing more. Now they’re seen as high-value content that can directly engage prospects and customers and even spark actual buying conversations. As a result, we’re seeing blogs getting more in-depth and replacing formats like ebooks.
The other big trend of 2017 has been account-based marketing. Everyone’s talking about it; some people are actually doing it. In ABM it’s doubly important to focus on the quality of the content. If you’re personalising content to an individual company or buyer, you have to get it absolutely right, otherwise it will go in the bin and your efforts will have been wasted.
My message to marketers: don’t over-focus on ABM automation at the expense of creating great content that will win your prospects’ attention – and their business.
My wish for 2018? I’d love to see more passion projects. When we have a client who has a brilliant idea, is excited about bringing it to life, and devotes time and thought to helping us create it, the difference is incredible. We’ve worked on a few client passion projects and they’re invariably the ones that see the best engagement and results.
David: the moment of truth for content, data and ABM
Niche content, data analytics and ABM automation are all on a collision course, at high speed.
This can go one of two ways. Either an obsession with data smashes the creativity and individuality out of content, and then ABM tech amplifies the resulting mess into a big pile of spam… or the insights that tech and data can provide enable gifted writers to craft highly relevant, useful and personal content that resonates deeply within tiny niche markets. At scale.
I know which outcome I’m hoping Santa brings.
Kieran: content goes long, and the rebirth of product marketing
For me, 2017 has been all about the long content pieces. I’ve worked on exhaustive web pages, in-depth ebooks and sprawling concept albums. (The latter, admittedly, on my own time, as I took three months out to test drive the Radix Sabbatical.)
I’ve also found myself writing more content that’s designed to live a little further down the “funnel” – from solution overviews to product factsheets. After a few years spent in the shadow of more showy, less salesy Content Marketing, it’s good to see such essential copy getting the budget and attention it deserves.
My wish for the coming year: peace on Earth. Failing that, I’ll take the early death of supposedly helpful, but actually deeply impractical online proofing and reviewing platforms. (Which, in its own small way, would help with peace on Earth. By making me much less likely to hurl my laptop into a wall.)
Steve: more thoughtful email nurture and promotional copy
I’ve heard a lot of talk this year about changing the way we approach promotional materials and communications. It feels like agencies and brands alike are waking up to the idea that even the greatest most exciting content in the world is worthless if you’re not effectively getting people to look at it.
I’d expect to see that theme continue in 2018. As people recognise the importance of exciting, engaging and entertaining communications, we should see a significant shift away from dry “cookie cutter” nurture programs.
Instead, I expect to see a lot more time spent considering how the audience engage with promotional content and communications, and a much larger focus on building compelling and exciting stories in the comms themselves, instead of just in large content pieces.
George: sorry Steve, you’re completely wrong
I’ve definitely seen a swing away from working on emails and nurture campaigns this year. Now it seems like I spend more of my time on ebooks and blog posts – and more visual promotional materials like teaser images, infographics and videos.
That could just be the luck of the draw with what work I’ve wound up doing, or it may just be clients are taking email campaigns in house now. Alternatively, it might be a general shift toward long-form content over short-form promotional material.
As for the coming year, I think we’ll continue seeing longer, more researched pieces coming to the fore. It’s been going that way for a long while now, and I imagine the trend will continue next year. It won’t be long until 2,000 word blogs and 5,000 word ebooks become the new normal.
Nick: suddenly, everyone’s a copywriting expert
A lot more people are talking about copywriting at conferences and events. There’s also a shed-load of enthusiastic head nodding going on when you talk about content writing. People know it’s something they should be doing, but just don’t know where to start, or how much money to allocate.
In 2018, I’d like to think people will cease starting a conversation about copy with SEO. Yes, it’s important, but there’s still degenerates out there who think crowbarring a load of keywords into copy will magically elevate their blog to the top of a Google search (I’ve met these people at conferences).
Emily: more product information, and the death of landfill content
I feel like the brakes have finally been put on how much content brands are expected to publish. There’s still a lot of thoughtless content out there, being pushed out, day-today, but things are easing up. Brands are shifting towards quality, over quantity, but this change is only just starting.
Next year, I hope we’ll see even more being done around VR for B2B, but also that brands look at what’s needed towards the bottom of the funnel. Blog posts and videos are cool, but buyers want thoughtful product information too.
We hope you have a delightful Christmas and New Year. We’ll be back in January with even more advice on how to make the most out of your B2B content.
And if you want to see if our predictions come true? Sign up to the Radix newsletter, and we’ll keep you up to date with the latest goings-on.