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Ones to watch: HN’s 2017 B2B Marketing Predictions

With some pretty major predictions having been rather wide of the mark in 2016, you’d be forgiven for viewing prediction-based articles with a bit of scepticism. But you can’t stay ahead of the curve unless you’re looking forward. So let’s look at some of the trends that we think could shape B2B marketing activities in 2017.

Prediction 1:  360° video takes off

A lot of what’s currently touted as ‘VR’ is — at least outside the video game world — more accurately 360° video.

Nonetheless, it’s been an exciting development in 2016, being used in medicine and even to retell the story of the crucifixion. Facebook and YouTube have already integrated 360° video into their platforms. And 360° video ads and other marketing are surely not far behind. Visit Austria’s collection of videos demonstrate perfectly how 360° video encourages viewers to spend more time with the content you create.

Part of what makes 360° video so exciting is that its design is ‘mobile first’. Viewers can survey the panorama by turning and tilting their mobile phone. 80% of internet users own a smartphone, making the need for mobilised content more pressing than ever, and 360° video could be a powerful way to stand out from the crowd.

It also provides some of the immersive experience of more complex VR technology, without the price. So B2B content marketers can use it to bring content to life, especially dense and hard-to-visualise content.

For example, you could create a 360° video that places the viewer at the heart of a computer network during a cyber-attack. Or to liven up a virtual tour inside a data centre.

Prediction 2: Live video enhances corporate events

There’s something about the immediacy and unpredictability of live content that engages people much more than if it were recorded. With tools such as Facebook Live and Periscope growing in use, this is a trend to watch out for in the 2017 B2B marketing world.

Tools such as these could be used to livestream corporate conferences and events, allowing people all around the globe to tune in from the comfort of their office chairs.

Savvy marketers can also encourage delegates, speakers and employees at their events to generate their own live video content to share with their networks, increasing reach and engagement beyond those who follow your corporate social channels.

Prediction 3: White papers become mobile-friendly

Increasingly, your target business audiences will be accessing your social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn et al) through their mobile phones. So have you thought about what happens when, for example, they click on a tweet promoting your white paper (a piece you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in), and find themselves having to download and read a PDF — on their mobile?

This is not an effective way of engaging and starting a conversation: the traditional white paper format just isn’t designed for the mobile channel. Which is why we think that condensing white papers into a mobile-friendly format could be a big thing this year.

The idea is to take ‘flat’ long-form content (your white paper) and create a teaser or trailer with mobile-friendly screens, designed for scrolling and swiping and using video or animations to bring it to life. Unlike infographics, which aren’t always easy to view on mobile devices, the ‘mobile white paper’ would be designed specifically to work on a mobile screen, giving the user a slick experience that adds to the overall power of the piece.

Where the full paper (in PDF form) would cause them to disengage, the shorter, mobile-friendly version would keep them interested and give them handy options for accessing the full paper once they’re using a more appropriate device (or have access to a printer).

Look out for a further blog on this topic, which will more fully explore why we think there’s a gap here that needs to be filled.

And with those predictions laid down, may we wish you a prosperous, exciting and fulfilling 2017.

4 tips for creating killer email marketing campaigns

Email marketing is still a hugely important (not to mention effective) tool in the marketer’s arsenal. Whether you’ve got one email to send, or are managing a whole campaign, making sure that your content does the right job is essential to delivering results, and that all-important ROI. To that end, we’ve got four tips to help you ensure your email marketing campaign is ship-shape.

1: Start with the reader
We can’t stress this one enough. Why should the reader open your email? Why should they be interested in what you’re saying? Why should they do what you want them to? Asking yourself these questions at all stages will help keep your content focused on the customer, not your company, and increase its effectiveness.

2: Design your subject line for maximum impact
The subject line will be the first bit of your email the reader sees – so it has to hook them in and convince them to open your email. Again, ask yourself ‘why’ – why would they want to open your email? Bear in mind you’ve got roughly 50 characters to pull your reader in – less if your reader is on a mobile device – so your message needs to be concise and compelling.

3: Make your instructions clear
What do you want the reader to do after reading your email? Download a white paper, or give your sales team a call? Ask a colleague to read your email; if they don’t know what they should do after reading the email, then your reader certainly won’t. Bear in mind that you can use visual cues like buttons, callout boxes and colour to guide the reader to your call to action (CTA).

4: Match the CTA to the buyer’s journey
If your reader is only at the ‘awareness’ stage of their journey, chances are they won’t respond to an invitation to call you – but they may well watch a video that helps them see how they can solve whatever business issue they’re facing. Matching your CTA to where your reader is in their buyer’s journey will help increase open rates and click-through rates, and help you more accurately guide them towards your offering as they progress through the journey.

Do you have any other tips for creating an email campaign? Let us know in the comments section, or talk to us on Twitter and LinkedIn using the buttons below.

Is Email Direct Marketing dead?

You may have come across blogs or articles stating that email direct marketing is a dead horse, an outdated method of marketing that will soon be rendered irrelevant by social media. Here at HN, we beg to differ.

The fact is that eDM provides a great ROI – between 94 and 139% according to Marketing Sherpa.  In our experience, social media and eDM complement each other and can work very well in integrated campaigns. For one thing, eDM allows you to segment your audience, which is harder or even impossible to do with social media – you can’t tweet just one section of your followers, after all. So you might choose to invite customers to sign up to a mailing list on your Facebook page to send them personalised offers. Equally, you may decide to use a targeted eDM as part of an integrated campaign to draw attention to, and drive traffic to, your social media sites.

But – and it is a big ‘but’ – we are living in an age of information saturation, and making your eDM stand out from the spam and the badly mail-merged emails that plague our inboxes is a challenge. It’s vital that your message holds the interest of the reader, and helps them to trust your brand. From subject line to signature, your message needs to be well crafted in order to achieve its goals.

Linking eDMs to a trigger, such as emailing delegates after an event or after an interaction such as downloading content from your website, is a great way to make sure your eDM is relevant to its recipients. Adapting your message for specific audience segments, as already mentioned, is another way to maximise impact. Thinking like this will see your eDMs have a real impact on your customers, and your sales.