Partners Connect Livestream: B2B Advertising

One of the benefits of being a Google Partner is the ability to co-host monthly livestream events where Google highlights the newest innovations in the digital marketing world. The subject of the latest livestream was B2B advertising, so of course our team grabbed a bag of popcorn and gathered in a conference room faster than you could say “buyer personas.”

Google covered a wide array of topics including the evolution of the buying process and how to find exactly where your consumers are spending their time. Since time is precious and hour-long webinars aren’t everybody’s style, I’ve distilled the biggest takeaways that will be useful in ensuring that your B2B campaigns use the most innovative and on-trend strategies.

Diarmid Thomson, Google’s head of industry, B2B, got right down to business in sharing the three biggest industry trends that have emerged in the B2B world:

  • The customer is in the driver’s seat
  • Data is an industry game-changer
  • The next frontier is machine learning

 

  

 

The customer is in the driver’s seat

Though this concept isn’t completely new, B2B marketers are seeing more of their customers steering the wheel as their ability to find more information and conduct research on their own continues to rise.

An article published by Forrester, “Death of a B2B Salesman” (disclaimer: no salesmen died in the making of this article), explains the fundamental shift in how decision makers are going down the path to purchase. Forrester found that decision makers are 75 percent of the way through their purchase process before reaching out to a brand, and 68 percent of that self-directed research is digitally driven.

This isn’t strictly due to greater access to data supporting a more informed decision. A lot of decision makers also believe that sellers don’t really understand their business and aren’t providing clear information or solutions, so they’re deciding to take things into their own hands. Forrester also found that, on average, decision makers conduct 12 searches before engaging with a brand. The majority of the these B2B buyers admitted that they start with more generic, educational searches, like “How do I do x?” before moving on to searches for specific brand names.

What does all of this mean for you? Since we know that most research is conducted before engaging with your brand and a lot of this research happens through search, it’s crucial to have a strong search presence. If you are not appearing high in the search engine results page when relevant searchers are looking for you, well, let’s just say you might as well write an article titled “Death of Insert Your Brand Name Here.”

Not only are your customers sitting in the driver’s seat now, but they are also increasingly younger. This doesn’t just mean they are paying more for car insurance; these “younger drivers” have a strong influence on the final authorities’ decisions. This means that if you only focus on going after the “C-suite drivers”, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

In the graph below, we see that through 2020, decision makers are increasingly going to be millenials and gen Zers. We know these age groups tend to be very tech-savvy, as they grew up with computers and smartphones, so flexing your "tech" muscles will go a long way with this audience. 

Source: Google/BCG, "B2B Mobile Study," 2017

Data is an industry game-changer

More data is now created in two days than all of humanity created from the dawn of time up until 2003. This is not a drill. There is so much data out there that it can feel overwhelming at times. But thankfully for us, Thomson outlines the three biggest opportunities for utilizing data.

He starts with one of our fan favorites, audience data. Intelligent application of this data to your marketing efforts helps you provide the right message at the right time based on the user’s intent. In order to stay proactive in the personalization era of digital marketing, it’s crucial to analyze data segments such as remarketing and customer match to stay ahead of the game and win over buyers based on their behavior with your brand or on your site.

The next opportunity for utilizing data is a pretty hot topic in 2017: attribution. Whichever side you may be on in the attribution debate, both last-click and first-click attributioners unite when it comes to the importance of ensuring that you have a solid understanding of what’s working well in your marketing efforts and what’s not. Both provide insights you can use to continually refine your marketing strategy.

Google’s suite of products can address a lot of these issues to help you market better. Data is very critical in your digital marketing strategies, whether it’s inspiring you to create more granular audience messaging or showing you which channels work best for your business. 

The next frontier is machine learning

Machine learning is like winter in Game of Thrones: We’ve been told it’s coming for years, but now we can definitively say, winter is here. Machine learning is already a part of our everyday lives as marketers; bids, keywords, attribution and ads have all adopted some sort of machine learning technique to help us optimize our campaigns.

Google makes it easy to incorporate machine learning into your overall AdWords strategy, whether you use the enhanced CPC feature or the optimized ad rotation setting. By 2020, companies who master machine learning will steal $1.2 trillion per year from those who don’t. In other words, get on board to machine learning if you are looking to make some dolla dolla bills, y’all.

Source: Medium.com

The world of B2B marketing has evolved more than ever over the past few years, driving more opportunity to reach your customers with the right message at the right time. All of these industry trends will only continue to grow in the value they bring to your marketing efforts. Take full advantage of these innovations if you plan to stay ahead of your competitors.

Thanks for tuning in and be sure to give us a shout if you’d like to attend our next Google Partners Connect event!

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