It’s great to see that B2B brands that sell online are increasingly modernising by providing their services in a way that today’s digital-native buyers engage with, as highlighted in a report from Gorilla Group in November. B2B brands are now using features that B2C adopted years ago, including responsive website design and showing pricing guidelines upfront. The report also uncovered that B2B brands are more than twice as likely to offer click-to-chat features on their websites compared to a year ago.
…But many big brands still aren’t taking digital transformation seriously enough
With B2B brands needing to modernise to stay relevant in a digital world, it’s rather worrying that only 2% of the world’s largest businesses have digital-focussed leaders in senior positions, and only 5% of FTSE companies have a CDO at a senior level, as revealed by research from PeopleTECH.
Using social media for product launches
Research from Five by Five revealed that 74% of marketers are prioritising social media over other channels for product launches. This is likely because 81% say that the time between the initial idea and the product launch has decreased over the last five years, with 70% saying they now have an average of only six months of preparation time.
Where do senior executives go for thought leadership online? Not where you think
When you think about senior executives using social media to find thought leadership, Facebook is the last place you’d think of. However, a new study by Grist revealed that 79% of senior executives now use Facebook as a source of corporate advice, beating Twitter (73%) and LinkedIn (68%).
It’s true: millennials really do prefer social media and mobile
Most millennials grew up with technology, so it’s no surprise that they use social media more than any other generation, but an infographic by University of Southern California Dornsife has the stats to prove it. Some of the standout facts include:
· 89% of millennials use social media
· 82% of millennials engage with brands that they like
· 85% of millennials own smartphones
· 87% of millennials prefer socially responsible brands
· 85% of millennials are more likely to make a purchase if the marketing is personalised
The trends of millennials further show that marketers need to transform if they are to effectively engage today’s digital-native buyers.
Events are increasingly favoured by B2B marketers
Can events still engage modern B2B buyers? We think so, and so do B2B brands, with a survey from Ceir showing that 76% of executives believe that events help engage existing customers, and 63% say the same for new customers.
With Facebook opening up its Messenger platform to allow developers to create chatbots, and Microsoft experimenting with their own on Twitter, it’s safe to say that they’re here to stay. A chatbot is an AlI computer programme that simulates human conversation, and while Twitter users did manage to corrupt Microsoft’s machine-learning ‘Tay’ account, chatbots are likely to play a big part in B2B in the near-future.
In B2B you could, for example, free up time by asking a chatbot for information you need instead of using email conversations, or B2B customers could tell a chatbot about a specific product or service they need and be told how much it will cost without having to talk to a sales person.
We should see a quick adoption rate over the next couple of years, since more people than ever before are using messaging apps (overtaking social media use), which is where most chatbots currently reside. A study by Oracle, titled ‘Can virtual experiences replace reality?’ suggests that 80% of big brands will be using their own chatbots within the next three years.
B2B tech in 2017: a ‘digital mesh’
What changes are going to happen in B2B in 2017? Gartner has highlighted ten technology trends they think will disrupt businesses in their research paper, ‘Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017’:
1. Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Machine Learning
2. Intelligent Apps
3. Intelligent Things
4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
5. Digital Twins
6. Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers
7. Conversational Systems
8. Mesh App and Service Architecture
9. Digital Technology Platforms
10. Adaptive Security Architecture