B2B marketing trend pieces often make out like the entire industry is transforming.
But in reality, most of the fundamental factors of marketing that deliver strong revenue and lasting growth are constant.
What changes is how we deliver them.
So rather than offering a list of shiny new things, we’re going to discuss the changes that will really make a difference to your performance in 2024 – and what to do to outperform all expectations.
4 Trends That Will Actually Impact Your Business in 2024
1. Generative AI
What to know
March 13, 2023, may go down in history as the last time a B2B marketer ended a LinkedIn post without mentioning generative AI. But after a year of endless hype and debate, 2024 will see these tools go from novel curiosity to business imperative.
Forrester reports that 72% of B2B content marketers already use some form of generative AI, and 60% of skeptics will too by the end of 2024.1 From scaling content production to supporting research and market analysis, the range of powerful use-cases will continue to pile up.
Does that mean B2B marketers should expect a year of seamless growth? It’s doubtful. Despite sky-high adoption rates, 61% of users say their organization lacks guidelines for its use - and less than 20% report having an ‘extremely good’ understanding of how to use AI.2
As a result, many B2B marketers will run into issues around quality control in the new year - and no amount of increased efficiency will make up for a sudden deluge of subpar content.
What to do
Focus on developing skills and knowledge, not accelerating implementation. Marketers need to think about generative AI as a new tool to learn, not a quick fix for their resourcing challenges.
Take a scientific approach: experiment with generative AI tools to explore both their possibilities and limitations. Most technology takes time to find its best use cases, and marketers should not assume the most immediately obvious applications of generative AI are its most valuable.3
Only once you have developed strong guidelines, trained your teams to develop good prompts and put in place controls to avoid the clear dangers of hallucination will B2B marketers be ready to explore the real potential of these tools.
What to know
For several years running, B2B marketers cited “not producing enough content” as their biggest content marketing challenge. But in end-of-year surveys in 2023, their new problem was revealed to be “producing the right content.”4
This will lead to a growing emphasis on hyper-personalization, using a combination of AI and integrated data analytics to tailor content to ever-more-specific audiences. And just as generative AI presents both benefits and challenges, this will likely see extremely mixed results.
Experts already warn that ‘thinly customized content’ will degrade the purchase experience for 70% of buyers in the new year. This could set off a chain reaction, where buyers become more immune to content and harder to engage as they are swamped with boring, recycled information.7
What to do
Think about personalization as a means to improve the buyer experience, not an end-in-itself. Few buyers are significantly moved by minor personalized features, such as using their first name in an email. They want information relevant to their needs, not their contact information.
Personalization is a long-standing troupe of marketing trend pieces. But truly impactful personalization is unlikely to be the product of fancy technology - it is about extensive research, quality control and a deep understanding of the buyer’s needs.
Spend your time and budget developing deeper content that delivers real insight. Focus on personalization as an overarching strategy, not a short-term tactic. And be willing to communicate less with buyers if necessary, because sometimes the best sign someone cares about you is not bothering you with endless spam.
3. Data literacy
What to know
From AI and targeted ads to a growing emphasis on RevOps, data will be at the core of most B2B marketers’ plans for 2024. Yet research suggests they may be better off getting back to basics in the new year.
Just 6% of B2B organizations are currently classified as advanced insight-driven businesses.5 Strikingly, respondents cite problems like ‘stakeholders lack the skills to work with analytics’, ‘analytics are not understood’ and ‘analytics are not accepted’.
In practical terms, this means a majority of B2B businesses likely have plenty of data - and not enough skilled people to make use of it.
What to do
Prioritize data literacy, digital upskilling and developing more efficient processes for sharing and analyzing data. Many marketers use data to inform a wide range of strategic decisions. But there is a meaningful difference between using data to justify decisions internally and actually improving your performance.
Take a rigorous approach to scrutinize and streamline your systems for capturing, analyzing and utilizing data. Just as more content should lead to a growing emphasis on quality, the increase in data volume ought to be seen as an opportunity to start making more effective use of this invaluable resource.
4. Reevaluating strategies
What to know
Trend pieces love to declare the “end of email” or the “death of leads”. And there are often good reasons: recent studies found that 71% of B2B buyers find gated content disappointing, while buyers say only 25% of emails from brands are interesting or compelling enough to even be worth opening.6
It would therefore be easy to predict marketers will give up these strategies in the new year. But the reality is both are simply too valuable to just throw away. Instead, marketers will reevaluate how these approaches fit into their existing strategies and adapt to changing buyer expectations.
What to do
Use data to inform channel decisions and focus on matching buyers’ expectations – not industry ones. Sending fewer (but higher quality) email or un-gating content might go against some conventional wisdom, but it will protect your brand and ensure buyers see you as a provider they can trust – rather than one that lets them down.
Our recent infographic explored key benchmarks for B2B marketing channels, and this is vital information to understand how your own marketing stacks up - and whether you could more efficiently allocate your budget.
However, it is important to always remember that every business’s marketing goals and audience are unique. And regardless of what your peers expect, it is always the buyer whose opinion you should be thinking about.
Exceed Your Buyers’ Expectations in 2024 with ProperExpression
Great B2B marketing combines innovative ideas with tried-and-tested principles - which is exactly what ProperExpression is built on.
Want to find out how we could transform yours?