Despite entering the new year amid a backdrop of 40-year-high inflation, the current sales and marketing landscape provides a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity for progressive building product brands to reengineer the business process.
In fact, a unique combination of supply and demand factors has emerged… igniting a multiyear cycle that is destined to help stimulate stronger growth by leveraging new infrastructure — and automation processes — with productivity gains, led by digital marketing.
In such a dynamic arena… the only constant is, of course, change.
To help building product brands navigate this evolution, we’ve assembled a primer of the most important digital developments to watch in the year ahead.
1. Ad Networks Are Moving Away From Google
The pandemic changed the way B2B marketers advertise on Google. Cost-per-click (CPC) has been on the rise since 2020, and there are no signs of costs going down.
It has become increasingly challenging for B2B marketers to validate return on investment (ROI) on Google Ads… and many are beginning to migrate from the legacy platform in favor of other networks, such as StackAdapt, and — increasingly — LinkedIn.
Most recently, Microsoft has been actively incorporating OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology in its Bing search engine. Rather than providing lists of links, this chat-style search engine instead, answers questions directly. This promises to be a refreshing experience for audiences… and is likely to completely upend the current business strategy for “paid” search.
2. The Analytics Landscape Is Shifting
If that development isn’t enough reason for reflection, Google has announced that it is retiring Universal Analytics on July 1st of this year… migrating from the metrics that most marketers traditionally leverage to measure engagement.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4), promises to be a more integrated analytics platform that goes beyond merely tracking website engagement. GA4 is designed to integrate with marketing sites, eCommerce solutions as well as in native and web apps to provide a comprehensive — and more accurate — overview of how users interact with a brand’s total presence on the web.
This change was inevitable. After all, privacy regulations are ramping up. And browsers are blocking more ads — rendering third-party cookies increasingly obsolete — making it harder to measure how brands are performing. Sadly, this transition won’t happen automatically. Instead, websites must be made ready for this change… or be left behind in the new year.
3. “Antitrends” Are Trending
Digital marketing trends that were once novel are giving way to other, potentially more effective methods. Promises for a metaverse-fueled future, have yet to be realized. The interest in NFTs (non-fungible tokens) is fading. And voice search on digital assistants isn’t particularly relevant in most B2B marketing applications.
4. Interactive Content Is On the Rise
Capturing an audience’s attention will continue to be key. Yet, no one wants to be engaged under false pretenses. That’s why building product brand marketers are turning to online assessments, quizzes and human-trained chatbots… that give audiences the ability to understand information much more clearly.
For example, an HVAC manufacturer could offer a multiple-choice assessment to help ensure technicians are well-versed in the component parts needed to upgrade the brand’s HVAC systems. A progressive insulation brand might create an engaging quiz that encourages audiences to view product solutions in a new way… for example, to consider moisture management and indoor air quality as part of a “wellness” checklist.
Or an Outdoor Living brand could set up a chatbot to help contractors determine, for example, which materials will work best for installing a pergola cover on a deck or patio… based on a geo-tracked jobsite location and budget.
5. Influencers Are Everywhere
Influencer marketing has grown exponentially over the past several years. In fact, the global influencer market reached a staggering $16.4 billion in 2022… and there’s no end in sight for the new year.
Those influencers with robust communities offer a wider reach that is reinforced — and made even broader — by algorithms. A positive product evaluation by a well-regarded influencer can create a significant impact. Networks like impact.com and Upfluence offer targeting that B2B marketers can leverage to engage audiences.
6. The Line Between UX and SEO Is Increasingly Blurred
Previously, websites were often designed around SEO… leading to potentially awkward phrasing. As well as relatively “thin” content. And non-intuitive navigation. The goal of a website is not merely to offer an algorithm to rank the site higher on a search results page. Rather, the job in 2023, will be to provide information to real, live humans.
It’s simple, really. When a visitor is confused or frustrated by a site, they’ll navigate away before taking an action… for example, filling out a form, reading an article, or — better still — making a purchase. And an opportunity to convert is lost.
So, search algorithms are weighing user experience as heavily as keywords… oftentimes, even more so. And that requires the creation of highly relevant, quality content.
7. User-Generated Content Is Gaining Traction
Building product brands can leverage user-generated content to position messaging in front of more audiences… increasing engagement and instilling trust. Notably, consumers are almost two-and-a-half times more likely to embrace user-generated content, compared to brand-generated content.
Social media platforms create a low barrier to entry — and help validate why the global user-generated content market is expected to be valued at $18.65 billion by 2028.
8. The Fundamentals Still Matter
Audiences look for useful content, not “algorithmic junk.” Getting clicks was never enough for a strategic mission. Leading a prospect through a sales funnel requires content that comes from actual human beings (or really smart AI).
Smart AI will see more influence in 2023 because it can take keywords — and large swaths of information — and then generate actionable content from it. While smart AI won’t replace human copywriters (we hope not, anyway), it may help to automate routine messaging.
9. Video Remains Relevant
Video will continue to be an important part of B2B digital marketing efforts. Yet, video only matters… if it truly resonates. Audiences are becoming increasingly oversaturated with video content, so it’s critical to stand out from the crowd.
Consider creating vertical videos… which lend themselves particularly well to use on social media sites. Instagram already displays videos posted on the platform as a reel (vertical video). And Google is heavily pushing its YouTube Shorts (vertical video). What’s more, LinkedIn is suggesting that advertisers create vertical videos to get better results from their paid ads.
Overproduced videos must be retired as a relic of the past… authentic, down to earth videos are just more relatable. And captions still resonate — as many audiences choose to watch videos while multi-tasking — with the sound muted.
10. Marketing Agencies Are More Valuable Than Ever
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, B2B brands are investing a growing amount of time and resources building digital campaigns. However, many struggle to keep up with the rapidly evolving marketing technologies.
Understanding digital marketing trends is an important step toward a successful new year. Fortunately, it’s never too late to get started.
Looking for ways to refresh your digital strategy in 2023? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to begin a conversation. Or simply, to chat!