Although technology advances rapidly, we are surprised that the emerging marketing channels of today aren’t drastically different from those we highlighted in 2019. (Well, that business-altering AI technology aside, but that’s for a post all its own.) It’s comforting to know that email, social media, traditional media, word of mouth and web (SEO and paid digital) continue to be effective marketing channels for both B2B and B2C.
Depending on your industry and your target audience, familiar and time-tested marketing channels might be enough. But if you’re eager to investigate what’s just inside the door—or on the horizon—that may be smart for outmaneuvering your competition. B2B marketing is a competitive landscape (stating the obvious here), so any new or tweak in technique can be important.
Let’s look at what’s budding, blossoming and burgeoning:
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is quickly becoming the primary way to learn more about your customers or prospects.
AI is (mostly) made up of tools that use customer data to generate and deliver optimum messages at optimal times, which is considered consumer trend analysis, but it also addresses tasks such as data and economic analysis, media buying, content creation (including blog outlines) and content personalization (another monster trend in marketing).
Artificial intelligence can be the magic wand for personalization, which continues to grow as a marketing movement. Whether you connect with your prospects and customers via email, text, chat or over the phone, personalization can make each connection more meaningful. Segmenting contact lists and crafting messaging for specific groups can help your prospects feel noticed and special.
The increasing role of AI in marketing campaigns reflects the tremendous growth of AI. According to Statista, spending on AI systems will reach $97.9 billion in 2023, with retail and banking industries leading the growth.
“The expansion of AI marketing offers the potential for double-digit improvements in outcomes: 41 percent of marketers say that AI leads to higher revenue generation from email campaigns, as well as a 13 percent improvement in click-through rates,” according to Adobe.
AI is also at the center of another emerging marketing channel : The metaverse. (Not to be confused with Meta.)
“The metaverse is a confluence of technologies that allow new forms of experience and engagement across industries through 3D activity and the use of simulations based on artificial intelligence,” according to Deloitte research. “Interest in the metaverse is growing rapidly, with many brands expecting to use the metaverse to link the physical and virtual worlds over the next one to two years.”
Although the metaverse is budding, businesses and companies should start to lay the groundwork for a metaverse strategy now, advises Deloitte.
“The metaverse offers CMOs across industries new opportunities to expand engagement and experience, and to grow new revenue channels. Marketers that fail to set a strategy early may find themselves playing catch-up for years to come.”
Not sure how you might use AI, but want to know more? Read these case studies on AI in marketing from Forbes.
As personalization and streaming become more mainstream, clients select what they listen to more carefully, whether they are in the office, driving to a job site or running on a treadmill at the gym. Even if you are marketing to streaming customers, you can increase your engagement with a podcast that answers questions for your target audience.
The desire to cast a pod is there, according to HubSpot, who found 82% of marketers plan to continue investing the same amount or increase their investment in podcasts or other audio content, which makes this a blossoming marketing channel.
Podcasts are easily digested by most listeners, and they should be. They are almost always consumed by PDOT (people doing other things.) They’re personable. Conversational. They are distinctively positioned to entertain and inform listeners who are mostly focused on the content without interruptions. Additionally, you can build relationships with vendors and clients by interviewing them for your podcast, which gives them a chance to build their brands.
Only 1 in 3 marketers use podcasts or other audio content in their marketing strategies, but 53% of those who do say that it is the most effective media format they use, according to HubSpot.
3. Audio or Voice Search
Search engines such as Google are the most common way for people to find information, specifically for written, image and video content for desktop and mobile devices. But here comes voice search as a marketing channel (and natural language learning pokes its head out again). And it’s burgeoning. Around for more than a decade, voice search has exponentially grown with the ubiquitous nature and convenience of smartphones.
What is voice search? You may already use voice search at home or in your office if you own any device that runs Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft) or Google Voice Search.
An increasing number of people in the United States are using voice to conduct searches, which take them to purchase products or services. Recent research by online B2B marketplace UpCity estimates that, as of 2022, half of the U.S. population used voice search features daily, and more than one-third (34%) used them at least weekly. If your business or company isn’t optimized for voice searches, you cannot expect to reach all your target audience and achieve your growth targets. Consider how your business can accommodate this channel more smoothly.
4. Intent Data
Being able to reliably predict what buyers are interested in is the goal behind intent data. Using intent data to select content topics, design marketing campaigns and interact with buyers will upend how B2B marketing is done.
Intent data allows marketers to better understand a buyer’s interests and use that information to improve the level of content served. Using intent data will give you a collection of data points from your customer’s online research and behavior.
Dotdash Meredith, one of the largest internet publishers, in May debuted a new ad targeting tool called D/Cipher that doesn’t rely on internet tracking cookies or first-party data. It could be a gamechanger for intent data, so read more about it here.
5. Livestream Commerce
Livestream commerce is a prime example of an emerging marketing channel in the U.S. that already has a $625 billion footprint in China this year alone. Live commerce is the mashup of live streaming and online shopping. Viewers can tune into a live video with the option to purchase products they see in-stream with a single click. A key component of live commerce streaming is the engagement with viewers.
Although it’s primarily for use in retail settings right now, livestream commerce is budding as a possibility in B2B. Chronicling its upswing are those who watch the business sector, such as those at the Wharton School of Business at Penn, who explain here why livestream commerce is on the rise.
“Striking the right balance between hype and investment is one part art and one part science for marketers,” according to Deloitte. “It’s impossible to ignore trends that everyone is talking about, but unwise to overinvest in unproven technology. Still, marketers should always be prepared for emerging technologies that can suddenly create significant competitive advantage.”
But knowing what’s out there is the most fundamental step to a decision process about what marketing channels and technology you might use over time.
AI in marketing involves using customer data to generate personalized messages, analyze consumer trends, perform data and economic analysis, media buying, content creation, and content personalization.
Personalization in marketing helps create more meaningful connections with prospects and customers by tailoring messaging and segmenting contact lists to make individuals feel noticed and special.
AI can lead to higher revenue generation from email campaigns, improve click-through rates, and provide valuable consumer insights. Additionally, the growing prominence of AI in marketing campaigns reflects its effectiveness and potential for double-digit improvements in outcomes.
Podcasts offer a distinct and engaging medium to answer questions and provide valuable content to target audiences. They allow for personalization, building relationships with guests, and capturing the attention of listeners who are focused on the content.
Audio or voice search involves using voice commands to conduct online searches. With its increasing popularity, optimizing marketing strategies for voice search is crucial to reach a wider audience and achieve growth targets.
Intent data helps predict buyer interests and enables marketers to select content topics, design campaigns, and interact with buyers more effectively. By leveraging intent data, B2B marketers can enhance the level of content served to potential customers.
Livestream commerce combines live streaming and online shopping, allowing viewers to purchase products seen in-stream with a single click. It has gained significant traction in China and is emerging as a potential marketing channel in the U.S., with opportunities for engagement and sales.
Marketers should stay informed about emerging technologies and marketing channels, striking a balance between hype and investment. By understanding the available options, businesses can make informed decisions about incorporating new technologies and strategies into their marketing efforts.