B2B Marketing Predictions for 2013

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Change, innovation, progress, while these terms should always be associated with the positive, for marketers entrenched in their current methodologies, the future can seem down right scary as the lines blur. The ways in which consumers can now discover, consume and engage about products and services, makes it a challenge for marketing professionals to keep up. 

The blurred lines of marketing

It only makes sense that with dynamic change, some concepts fall by the wayside, while others emerge to further our goals. Here are some pertinent predictions for 2013.

Is outbound marketing over?

2012 saw the continued growth of social media and the ‘Big Data’ explosion – will 2013 deliver more of the same, or are there more new strategies and functions on the horizon?

According to Useful Social Media’s research with over 100 CMOs, 2013 will see:

  • The death of push marketing

With the advent of inbound marketing, it’s long been predicted. But will 2013 really be the end for outbound? We’ll get back to you on that in 12 months’ time…

  • More customer centricity

The companies that understand their customers and prospects best and put them firmly at the centre of everything they do will have the greatest success.

Push marketing may be over

Will your marketing be retro and responsive?

Meanwhile, on the Marketing blog, they’re predicting B2B will see the rise of:

  • Responsive websites

By 2015, mobile is expected to surpass the PC as the most popular way to get online. All websites now need to resize automatically to the screen they are viewed on.

  • Retro offline approaches

Apparently, more brands will decide to go retro and personal in an attempt to cut through the noise facing decision makers with a return to direct mail! Who’d have thought it?

Marketing graphic

Is marketing automation taking over?

The use of marketing automation continues to rise as businesses see the rewards those already using it well are reaping. SiriusDecisions has some predictions for how it will evolve:

  • More choice, more functionality

The solutions available will become more sophisticated; and email marketing solution providers will enter the automation space by adding increased functionality to their existing systems.

  • Advanced tactics

Those best-in-class companies that are already using it well will up their game even further with more advanced lead scoring processes.

The Modern World of Marketing

Change can be a scary thing, and making the exodus from our comfortable world where we know how everything is done won’t be easy. But businesses who do manage to adjust to the new environment may be the ones to ‘inherit the Earth.’

One example is the move many marketers are making towards streamlined measurement and metrics to keep track of how they are doing. Research has proven that businesses that use revenue performance management in conjunction with marketing automation are the best performing businesses out there.

The Brave New World is coming, whether we like it or not. So how do we learn to survive it? Predictions for B2B marketing in 2013 include the extended use of automation and the rise of responsive websites. What predictions have you got?

Photo credit: Blurred marketing lines – courtesy © Dmitriy Danilenko – Fotolia.com

Sookie Shuen

Sookie Shuen

Community Manager at Tomorrow People
Sookie Shuen is the community manager at Tomorrow People, a leading UK inbound marketing consultancy, that provides free advice and updates through a five step... Read Full Bio
Sookie Shuen

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  • David Quaid

    Fantastic post and bang on the money! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I often think that Brand marketeers, in particular, love Facebook and segmentation because they won’t believe in inbound marketing -v- outbound. The desperation in trying to believe that you can control consumers is, frankly, worrying. Advertising gave businesses a lazy belief: that they control the message. Nothing is further from the truth.

    • Sookie Shuen

      Thanks for your feedback on this, David. Glad you found it useful!


  • Marc Bergers (@marc_bergers)

    Agree with you in general and see the value of inbound marketing. But even more valuable is persuing a well-balanced marketing mix of which inbound should be a part. Do you agree?

    Let me add to this that a recently published research among Belgium marketers shows that the trend for the coming year will be the intergrate email with social media (source: http://www.actito.eu/pdf/WhiteBookNL.pdf). So what do you exacly mean with “Mailshots, have these ever worked? ” Do you agree with the results from the study?

    Do not forget that email marketing is the only online push instrument out there…

    • Sookie Shuen

      Hi Marc thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right.

      With the rise of computers and the Internet, consumers now undertake a great deal of their own research. For many people, using the Internet is easier and more convenient, for example, than shopping around in the high street to find the best price for an item. Now a customer can switch on the computer and with a few clicks, find exactly what they want. This is rapidly becoming the norm for everything – from food to high-end electronics and from CDs to pet supplies. It poses a big problem for businesses operating under the old ‘outbound’ marketing strategy. Outbound is the marketing idea that most people identify with as just ‘advertising’. Whether it’s newspaper or magazine adverts, roadside signs or TV adverts. But perhaps the most intrusive tactics are those such as telemarketing, postal, and email marketing – methods that actively reach out to a consumer, whether they like it or not, and require an active choice on the part of the receiver. It’s not just about short-term gains either. By applying inbound marketing with your marketing mix can boost the long-term growth. Hope that helps.

      p/s: The PDF file that you’ve provided is in Dutch. Do you have an English version? ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Primary Position

    Its like that old marketing adage “50% of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half”

    Many of the social media marketeers I meet on twitter (and most come from 1950’s Advertising Mad Men agencies or were recently in construction or anything not related to the web) are bizarre. People who sides stepped Search Marketing/Inbound Marketing, actually miss segmentation and advertising! They think that Facebook works just like TV advertising. And they think that getting a like a puppy photo = successful marketing because the person meets some oddly defined demographic.

    They also think people are sheep – and its this dangerous lack of respect that often marks the difference between inbound and outbound, and good inbound and bad inbound.

    Microsoft research shows that from 10k mothers in the USA, they researched 57% of everything they bought offline via search and 80% of everything online via search. These are not technology savvy users, they are not early adopters and they are definitely the backbone of Facebooks US userbase.

    Marketers think that outbound marketing = controlled message and that inbound = loss of control. Thats exactly why users are the opposite. They are savvy, smart and technology has become easier to use and access.

    Nobody had to teach soccer moms how to use search…..

  • Marc Bergers (@marc_bergers)

    Hi Sookie, hi Primary Position,

    Would love to provide an English copy of the study…but unfortunately this is not available. Maybe a Google Translate can help a bit? Long shot…but who knows.

    Do would like to comment on your latest remark …email as being intrusive. I can say that is not the case in the Netherlands¹. In the Netherlands, a “confirmed opt-in”, or “double opt-in” is required by law. Explicit consent is needed before sending a commercial email to any company. Even for existing databases you will need this consent (opt-inning your old databases).

    Email is actually an excellent way to communicate in terms of targetting and building a relationship with your customers. Not something I have to explain further probably as Tomorrow People is offering email marketing….

    Let´s move on to Primary Position. As a good addition to your arguments is a Forrester study on ecommerce…As ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media. That’s the conclusion of the study which found that less than 1% of them could be traced back to social networks like Facebook or Pinterest².


    • Primary Position

      Fantastic Marc

      I do agree with you about e-mail. If you have an e-mail list of 2000 people who buy regularly and an open rate of 40% – you’re going to get the lowest CPC/C.Conv on the planet!

  • Nolin @ Brainrider

    Asking if inbound marketing has killed outbound marketing is like asking if listening has killed talking.

    They are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, they are both essential elements of marketing. If you’re not listening AND talking, you’re not a very effective communicator.

    • Sookie Shuen

      Hi Nolin, you are absolutely right. It takes two to tango. Typically, I see inbound marketing as a long-term strategy for lead generation, whereas most outbound efforts can generate leads much more quickly. Have you found any inbound methods that have a more immediate impact?

  • Pete Eeno

    Fascinating perspectives! I spend a lot of time reading what sales experts have to say and marketing experts are observing – and this article speaks to the biggest debate happening in sales right now: should sales teams drop the outside reps “New Business Development” model and shift the marketing spend to a RPM/ Inbound program?

    On the one hand it’s impossible to ignore how significant the gains have been with RPM and the increased contact to close rates the inbound teams are seeing. Conversely there are still incredibly successful Outside sales teams and to shut them out and willingly throw away their revenue generation is ludicrous.

    Being involved with both sales and marketing I believe 2013 will see an increase in RPM programs as more people start to see the value but I cannot see inside sales reps replacing all outbound push efforts. That being said I do see Outside sales reps who are “smiling and dialing” starting to go by the wayside – the types who need to get 100 calls in a day to keep their job. Instead those outside reps will start to be weeeded out by strategic reps who take the time to research prospects, understand how to leverage a trigger event, or by reps who take the time to develop a value hypothesis which articulates the business metrics a deal would impact: ROA, EBITDA margin etc. From my perspective, this level of strategic effort is going to become the new standard for outside efforts. Trigger event selling is essentially the golden standard for outside business development efforts as RPM is the new gold standard for inside sales efforts. It is possible a firm could build a sales program off one or the other, and some are. If your budget is tight most will lean towards one or the other as opposed to both. Regardless of which way you prefer a firm would be better off with both.

    To the average rep it’s very time consuming to do all of the secondary research on how to bring the unique value to a prospect. As much as it’s been said, I still believe sales and marketing teams that can strike the balance of sharing duties are going to be the most effective. More than anything companies are interested in learning insights about their business to help them make informed decisions so they can reduce risk in decision making. At the end of the day, if a sales/marketing team can effectively present insights on the inbound side through the website/white papers then they will be success when they align those insights with a prospect. But there isn’t any secret sauce with this senario bc the outbound team can do the same but the presentation process is different, a “zwischenzug” essentially.

    Push marketing is a bit behind of pull but don’t give up on it. The best marketing mix will include both push and pull. 15 years ago the tables were turned but some really smart people on the pull side were able to develop some brilliant stuff. Given enough time and space I forsee the same thing happening on the push side. Once a firm gets to both high levels they will have “the one ring to rule them all.”

    • Sookie Shuen

      Thanks Pete for sharing your in-depth thoughts on this. I had to do a search on Wikipedia on “Zwischenzug” (For those who want to know what it means, visit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwischenzug). Attracting customers is the lifeblood of every business. Yet drawing in new leads and converting them into sales can be a time consuming and costly process. Once you’ve nailed the process of developing a strong and sustainable funnel that focuses on winning, then nurturing, then converting…. It’s CHECKMATE!


  • Adam Jones

    Great article from Sookie, and some extremely insightful comments guys, thoroughly enjoyed reading them. My take on this is to very much agree with the Integrated marketing mix philosophy. I also believe that there is no ‘correct’ formula for a marketing mix, and that any decisions made as to which direction to take your sales and marketing strategy should be based around measurable data that can be justified.

    The business model, industry, audience, brand reputation, user experience and service offering are all vital factors which need to be considered when putting together a marketing strategy, And the fact is, that different people respond in different ways to content at different times. This is why it is more important that ever to know your product, and know the behavioral patterns of your audience.

    • Sookie Shuen

      Thanks Adam for your comments.

      You’ve made a very good point there. Inbound marketing is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen within a day – it requires consistent care and feeding in order to keep in growing.