Earlier this year, a comprehensive study from eMarketer—a market research company —found that B2B digital marketing expenses grew to $4.6 billion in 2018. That's up 14% on estimates.

So, needless to say, the future of B2B digital marketing is looking pretty bright.

But with that 🚀 growth inevitably comes some pretty drastic changes on how to successfully advertise online. From social media marketing to ever-changing, SEO-driven algorithms, a lot has changed for digital marketers...and some adjustments are bigger than others.

Here are the FIVE biggest ways B2B digital marketing has changed over the past few years.

(Pardon the clickbait)

1: Demographics and Researching

One of the best parts of big data is that narrowing down your demographics is ridiculously easy - tools like MadKudu basically let you paint a perfectly clear picture of who your customers are.

Nowadays we’re bombarded by literally hundreds of digital ads a day, so you’ll want to make sure yours isn’t forgotten. By creating ad content that specifically focuses in on specific likes, dislikes, and other quirks of our marketing base will help do just that: make sure you're seen and remembered.

Most companies nowadays understand their customer at such a fine, granular level, you need to compete.

(Word of warning: read our rant on "defining audiences")

Aside from data-driving e-tools, don't disregard the old-school route of also doing email newsletters that poll your subscribers, helping you get a better understanding on your demo.

You can start by asking (and researching) things like:

  • How have their spending habits changed in recent years?
  • Which social media do they most frequent?
  • How are their sales holding
  • Do they text more than email?
  • How are they spending their time at both work and home?
  • Are they paying for goods and services through things like Apple Pay?

To survive as a modern business, it’s imperative you learn as much about your clientele as possible. A hyper-focused and more “relatable” ad campaign could be the tipping point that brings them to do business with you, rather than someone else.

You wouldn't do business with an ATM, so make sure your service doesn't feel like one.

2. Better Engagement and Communication is Vital

Long gone are the days of standing idly by the fax machine, waiting to hear back from someone far away. With just a quick Facebook comment, Tweet, or hastily sent email, communicating with future or current clientele is virtually instantaneous.

And that comes with certain expectations: you need to be on-the-ball, all of the time.

Recent studies show that one of the major reasons why business relationships fall apart is due to tardy, ineffective communication. Conversely, these same studies also suggest that individual one-on-one (1:1) engagement is crucial to both customer and business “retention.” Suffice to say, you should think twice about regurgitating that template email to a new (or old) customer in the future.

And no, this doesn't mean "set up a live chat tool and call it a day". Live chat can actually hurt your conversions if not done properly (more on this in a future article, note to self).

3. SEO is (Almost) Everything

Algorithms own your business. Plain and simple.

When it comes to B2B digital marketing, if your SEO work is lagging, you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the proverbial haystack.

Doing things like publishing regular blog content, focused on certain keywords and phrases, will help your business’ SEO relevancy. Consider using online tools like Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, and KWFinder to find which SEO-friendly words and phrases are most associated with your type of operation.

Oh, and ContentFly has a content strategy tool now as well.

Also, it’s a good idea to focus on both off-site and on-site SEO work. The latter, on-site SEO work, is pretty straightforward: publish SEO-centered content—like short- and long-form blogs—on your company's website, preferably three or four times a week. But the former, off-site SEO work, is a bit trickier to pin down. This type of SEO work can be done by guest posting on publications and other websites, embedding links to your B2B website in the piece.

Keep your SEO relevance high, and the results will speak for themselves. And ignore all the edgy people claiming "SEO" is dead. SEO will never die, it just gets harder.

4. Social Media is as Relevant as Ever

A healthy, active social media presence is just as important as having an up-to-date website. If your Facebook page is shitty and not updated, how can you expect people to do business with you?

Whether it’s a business partner or customer, most people now check out a businesses’ social media profiles for peer reviews and content that resonates with them. Social media “branding,” when done effectively, is tremendously beneficial to any business.

Consider the following to help ensure your social media accounts are in top-notch shape:

  • Share relevant business tips and industry insights.
  • Feature certain B2B products and services that you’ve introduced or plan to in the future.
  • Creative regular incentives for visiting your page like giveaways, deals, etc..
  • Interact with commenters; always reply to DMs as soon as possibe.
  • Let followers know about career successes and milestones.
  • Hold Q&As with followers, allowing them to let you know what you’re doing right...and not.

5. Video Content is Everywhere (and Easier to Make than Ever Before)

Arguably one of the biggest changes in B2B digital marketing is the ability to easily incorporate videos into any online campaign. When you once had to use purpose-made, bulky camera equipment to film even 60-second pieces content, you can now basically do the same by busting out any modern smartphone.

Mobile video editing apps like iMovie, Splice, and Cameo, too, meaning you don't even need expensive editing software to finesse your clips.

Also, sharing your filmed content is incredibly easy. Social media, specifically, has become the go-to place to push video ads.

In fact, about 65 percent of all people believe they’re visual learners. That, and on Facebook alone, the company expects videos to make up the majority of all shared content in the coming years—so it’s an avenue of B2B digital marketing that’s ripe for the picking.

Some Final Thoughts on B2B Advertising in the Digital Age

It’s more important than ever to pay attention to B2B advertising trends. We’re smack dab in a digital world now, and, unfortunately, the more traditional, analog ways of doing B2B digital marketing are on their way out. But that’s not all bad news, either.

Modern digital platforms and tools have made it easier than ever to innovative and drive business success. Things like social media, SEO, and the easy sharing of video content have all made it easier to advertise across the web. However, remember that everything should always come back to customer experience and satisfaction.

Engage with your customer base, keep your digital ear to the ground on how your business is performing at all times, and you’ll have nothing but smooth sailing...toward your next quarterly milestone.