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B2B Marketing In 2019 — The Year In Review


As we begin the new year of 2020 filled with fresh opportunity and promise, it’s a great time to rewind and learn from some of the biggest news items in B2B digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and influencer marketing over the past year.

Let’s take a look back at what the year gone by has gifted us, from opportunities to challenges, and see what lessons it can teach us as we move ahead in 2020.
First Quarter 2019
During the first quarter of 2019 the digital marketing industry experienced a number of newsworthy shifts—from a big Google algorithm update in March to a host of new targeting and advertising features across several platforms.
The Digital Marketing Sights and Sounds of Q1
When It Comes to Digital Marketing Spend …
CMOs continued to diversify their budgets to adapt to new trends, taking advantage of opportunities, and overcoming challenges. According to Forrester, CMOs will spend nearly $150 billion by 2023 on search marketing, banner and outstream advertising, instream advertising, and email marketing in the United States. However:

Paid search was expected to lose share to shopping and voice search;
Programmatic banner buys were expected to retrench;
Email was expected to continue to woo B2B adopters.



What Else?

As the B2B buyer’s journey  has become increasingly similar to that of its B2C counterpart, the B2B e-commerce market has expanded rapidly—and was expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. (Demand Gen Report)
B2B brands felt the pressure to take a stand on values, with study data showing that 8 in 10 business leaders would end a business relationship based on a vendor’s failure to address high-stakes communications like data security. (Marketing Dive)

When It Comes to Search Marketing …
While each year Google always draws plenty of news coverage, it’s big Q1 core update was a major attention grabber. According to Search Engine Journal, it was “one of the biggest updates in years,” focused not on any particular signal or niche, but on making substatial overall improvements.

Mobile web traffic dominated the search landscape, with Google releasing its first mobile-first indexing update and indicating that mobile-first will be an ongoing focus.

Beyond the search implications, mobile continues to be essential when it comes to connecting and creating amazing experiences. According to  Adobe’s* survey of 1,000 adult smartphone owners:

89% of respondents agreed strongly that they need a device while on the go, while one-fifth of respondents said that they cannot live without their devices.
50% of respondents said the ad offers they receive are just “OK.”
Less than 20% of respondents said the offers they receive are relevant.

This trend showed that creating quality experiences — across platforms and devices — has continued to grow in importance, even for B2B marketers, and is not just a passing fad.

[bctt tweet=”Creating quality experiences—across platforms and devices—is only growing in importance, even for B2B marketers. @CaitlinMBurgess” username=”toprank”]
When It Comes to Content Marketing …
Content continued to be the beating heart of digital marketing strategies. And during Q1 Backlinko, with the help of their data partner BuzzSumo, analyzed 912 million blog posts to understand the state of content marketing, finding:

Long-form content got an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.
When it comes to social shares, longer content outperformed short blog posts. However, for articles that exceed 2,000 words, return diminishes.
Question headlines got 23.3% more social shares than headlines that don’t end with a question mark.
“Why” and “what” posts, as well as infographics, received 25.8% more links compared to videos and “How-to” posts.

This served to reinforce the core principle of our approach to content marketing: Striving to be the best answer.

[bctt tweet=”Your customers, prospects, and target audience are searching for answers—the best answers. This requires a thoughtful narrative, not just all the words. @CaitlinMBurgess” username=”toprank”]

Read more on this topic:

How a Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results
Power Pages and Best Answer Content: Should You Go Long Form or Short Form?

When It Comes to Social Media …
Facebook confirmed in Q1 that it was testing a new feature that would let Pages archive and share Stories.

This allowed users to help expand the organic reach of a brand’s content beyond its followers, according to Search Engine Land.

Read more on this topic:

What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing
The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

When It Comes to Influencer Marketing …
Adoption of B2B influencer marketing continued to rise in Q1 of 2019. From enhancing trust and credibility to reaching new audiences, more B2B brands began to understand the many benefits of forming mutually-beneficial partnerships with influential voices.

During Q1 TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden outlined five B2B influencer marketing trends marketers need to pay attention to — trends that largely proved to ring true throughout the year, and which will likely also continue now that 2020 has begun:

Micro and Macro Influencers. A lot of marketing press has emphasized micro or even “nano” influencers over celebrities. There’s merit to that. But successful programs map the right “big and small” influencers to the right content within the buying journey.
Centralizing Influencer Operations. Disparate processes and lack of coordination can create real problems. But centralizing influencer marketing operations can create opportunities across organizations.
Always-On Influencer Engagement. Early on, many B2B brands are campaign-focused when working with influencers. But more advanced marketers and brands are focused on developing relationships and fostering advocacy with influencer partners on an ongoing basis.
Focus on Quality vs. Quantity Metrics. From influencer identification to brand vs. popularity, there’s a big shift happening in the way qualitative metrics are used.
Influencer Marketing Software Investment. As organizations begin to implement influencer marketing initiatives across departments and businesses, coordination in identification, engagement, and measurement needs to be a priority. And specialized platforms can help.

When It Comes to The TopRank Marketing Team …
Q1 was a busy time for as,  with some of the team’s highlights being:

Lee continued his speaking adventures all around the real and digital world including: a live webinar with BuzzSumo on best answer content for B2B, a presentation on creating experiences with interactive influencer content at inOrbit 2019 in Slovenia and B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, AZ, and more.
Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman and Account Manager Jane Bartel teamed up to share how the team deployed an always-on influencer marketing program for a “leading social networking site for professionals.”
We kept our live blogging skills sharp at B2B Marketing Exchange and Social Media Marketing World 2019.
Our agency was featured in Forrester’s B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report—which to our absolute delight, called out our experience in B2B influencer marketing.

Q1 also saw the addition of a special new member to our team: Laser Bear.

Get to know him more by checking out Lee’s post dedicated to “Breaking Free of Boring B2B.”
Second Quarter 2019
The second quarter of 2019 was filled with many important B2B marketing changes and several unexpected twists and turns that combined to affect how the industry moved forward.

We’re always working to bring you the most relevant B2B marketing news, including weekly industry news videos from Tiffani Allen and Joshua Nite here on our blog and on our TopRank Marketing YouTube channel, so if you haven’t yet tuned in, be sure to make it a part of your 2020 B2B marketing efforts.
The Digital Marketing Sights and Sounds of Q2
When It Comes to Digital Marketing Spending …
Forecasts from the quarter showed that global digital advertising spending was expected to climb over the next four years, including a prediction from Juniper Research that spending will reach $520 billion by 2023, and that:

Spending will increase significantly from 2019’s $294 billion
Amazon’s share is projected to hit 8% — up from 2018’s 3%
Google’s digital ad revenue is expected to top $230 billion by 2023


What Else?

63% of B2B companies planned to raise spending on email marketing, with top goals being increased engagement, conversion, and lead generation, according to survey data released during Q2. (MediaPost)
Digital video advertising spend has seen continued growth according to IAB study data, with the average survey advertiser projected to spend $18 million in 2019, up from 2018’s $14.2 million. (Adweek)
 Q2 Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report showed that 2018 was the first year U.S. digital advertising earnings topped the $100 billion mark, hitting $107.5 billion, up from 2017’s $88.3 billion, led primarily by the strength of mobile and video. Users also spent 22% more time on social media properties in 2018 than during 2017, the report detailed. (Adweek)
Social media advertising spending has risen 27% year-over-year, topped by a 44% increase for video ads, with accompanying impressions also up 20%. (ClickZ)
The highly-anticipated Internet Trends report for 2019 was released at the end of Q2, including digital spending data of interest to digital marketers, and we took an in-depth look at the report during the quarter.

Digital ad sales were expected to grow by 14% in 2019, according to additional forecast data. (AdAge)

Read more on this topic:

Pump it Up: How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investments
Around the World in 50 Captivating Digital Marketing Statistics

When It Comes to Search Marketing …
Q2 2019 saw Google launch a search update focused on domain diversity, by having fewer first-page results that come from the same domain, and the search giant also rolled out several other changes including:

Making the company’s mobile-first indexing the default for new sites
Releasing guidelines for using “how-to” structured mark-up data and related image recommendations, offering digital marketers more precise instructions to work towards getting pages that generate automatic how-to rich search result entries
Updating the firm’s best-practices for building FAQ pages


What Else?

Q2 also saw Google rolling out automatic transcription to certain podcasts on its Google Podcasts app. (Search Engine Land)
Google’s annual Q2 Marketing Live event saw the firm announce expanded mobile-first native ads that display in a more visually-rich view across multiple Google feed environments, along with mobile-only gallery ads and several other features of interest to online marketers. (Search Engine Land)
20% of Android Google App searches came from voice, and SEMrush looked at ranking factors including the importance of first-page placement and other facets of voice search. (SEMrush)

Read more on this topic:

10 Smart Question Research Tools for B2B Marketers
Hey Alexa: How Do I Bake Voice Search Into My B2B Marketing Strategy?

When It Comes to Content Marketing …
The end of Q2 saw content marketers get new data on the optimal times for publishing content on various social media platforms. Sprout Social updated its best-times-to-post study, showing that:

Facebook content posted on Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. has the greatest engagement
Instagram also shows Wednesday as the top day, along with Fridays between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Twitter posts have the greatest success when made on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
*LinkedIn posts were seen to get the highest engagement on Wednesdays between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.


What Else?

Instagram started offering a branded content ad option that allowed organic branded content feed posts from creators. The new ads contained “Paid Partnership,” and were part of Instagram’s efforts at increased ad transparency. (Adweek)
Q2 saw the release of Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer report, showing that 75% of consumers now value trust over trendiness, along with a wide swatch of other digital marketing insights. (AdAge)

Read more on this topic:

15 Reports Charting the Future of Content Marketing
12 Must-Have Skills for B2B Content Marketers

When It Comes to Social Media …
Several Q2 2019 reports pointed to social media usage remaining mostly unchanged, while the way people use social platforms shifted, offering digital marketers new opportunities as well as some additional new hurdles to conquer.

Instagram was the only major social media platform to see an significant increase in usage among U.S. adults since early 2018 according to Q2 Pew Research survey data. (Pew Research Center)
The Q2 Edison Research and Triton Digital Social Habit study showed largely unchanged social media usage over the past four years. (Convince and Convert)
2019 was forecast to be the first year during which more people — 51.7% — use social media platforms from mobile devices than from computers. (eMarketer)


What Else?

Facebook advertisers and users of the firm’s Business Manager platform got new layout changes and features, including streamlined Ads Manager navigation and tools to improve new client on-boarding. (Marketing Land)
LinkedIn saw revenue growth of 27% for FY19 Q3, a 24% increase in on-platform sessions, and record engagement and job posting levels. (Social Media Today)
U.S. adults were using Instagram more than ever, at an average of 27 minutes daily, and expected to increase into 2020, while Facebook and Snapchat both saw drops in the average number of minutes of use per day. (eMarketer)

Read more on this topic:

The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary
Why Twitter Lists Are Still a Great Tool for B2B Marketers

When It Comes to Influencer Marketing …
Implementation of B2B influencer marketing continued to expand during Q2 2019, when our CEO Lee Odden examined this growth and shared 7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020, including:

Increased use of AI
Democratized Influence
Brandividal Media
More Engaging Content Formats
Influencer Tech Integration with other Martech
Consumerization of B2B Influencers and Content
Influencer Experience Management

What Else?

Influencer marketing saw success in numerous industries. (MarTech Advisor)
Influencer marketing was seen as poised to top the $10 billion mark by 2022, including a 1,500% increase in searches for information about influencer marketing over the past three years. (Social Media Today)
Instagram first tested the elimination of likes and follower counts as a possible method for driving more focus to content, in a trend that continued throughout 2019 and which is becoming the new normal in 2020 for some platforms. (Marketing Land)

Read more on this topic:

How to Intertwine Online & Offline Tactics to Cultivate B2B Influencer Relationships
Do Your Homework: Selecting the Right Influencers for Your B2B Brand With Tips from the Experts

When It Comes to The TopRank Marketing Team …
Some of our team’s highlights in the press during Q2 included:

Marketing Influencers: Our 2019 Top 30 (ExoB2B)
Modern Marketing Influencer Series: Key Ingredients of a Great Content Marketing Strategy for 2019 (Oracle Modern Marketing Blog) (client)
An Undervalued Work Management Strategy: Listening (Workfront)
B2B Lead Generation Ideas: A Full-course Content Planning Dinner (DivvyHQ)
Learn How To Solve The Experience Equation With The Right Technology And The Right Strategy (Digitalist Magazine)
Influencer Marketing Trends for 2019 – A live interview with TopRank’s Lee Odden (Rival IQ)
A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Lee Odden on Ruling the Content Kingdom (LinkedIn)

Third  & Fourth Quarters of 2019
Q3 and Q4 2019 were also filled with plenty of significant B2B marketing changes, with some of the quarter’s key shifts shown below.
The Digital Marketing Sights and Sounds of Q3 & Q4

When It Comes to Digital Marketing Spending …
Forecasts from the third quarter showed that global digital advertising spending was expected to continue to rise, and in the U.S. alone digital ad spending grew to $28.4 billion for the first quarter, up 18 percent year-over-year. (ClickZ)

What Else?

Digital advertising spending was up nearly 20 percent during the quarter. (Broadcasting & Cable)
Digital advertising expenditures in the U.S. increased by 18 percent. (ClickZ)
By 2021 global digital advertising spending was predicted to increase by 47 percent from 2019, with ad expenditure growth up by 5.3 percent. (MarketingProfs)
Amazon cut into Google’s advertising market share, garnering ad revenue growth of 53 percent for sponsored brands and 102 percent for sponsored products. (MediaPost)
Revenues from advertising on social media and messaging platforms climbed 26.2 percent year-over-year. (Mobile Marketing Magazine)
73 percent of B2B senior-level executives said that they used more sources when researching and evaluating purchases than they did last year. (MarketingCharts)
By 2021 podcast advertising was expected to top $1 billion in annual revenue, IAB predicted. (The Verge)
63% of B2B companies planned to moderately raise spending on email marketing, with top goals being increased engagement, conversion, and lead generation. (MediaPost)

Read more on this topic:

The Currency of Influence in Marketing — Buy, Sell, or Trade
Zari Venhaus’s Framework for Gaining Executive Buy-In for Marketing Technology #CMWorld

When It Comes to Search Marketing …
Q3 2019 saw the release of data showing that for the first time most Google searches don’t yield subsequent clicks, with 50.33 percent ending on the search giant’s result page, and 45.25 percent of searches resulting in organic clicks and 4.42 percent in paid advertisement clicks. (SparkToro)

What Else?

Google gave content creators the ability to incorporate multiple thumbnail images from the same video, which will all appear in search results linked to various spots within a video. (TechCrunch)
Audience targeting was the top search marketing technology affecting search engine marketing strategy — at 86 percent, audience targeting topped keywords, which came in at 83 percent, and re-marketing, which had 76 percent. (MarketingCharts)
Google rolled out playable podcast episodes that appear directly in search results. (Engadget)
Facebook began offering more advertisers options for inserting ads within search results on its platform. (Search Engine Journal)

Read more on this topic:

What the Future of Google Search Means for B2B Marketers
What’s Missing In Your B2B Marketing Strategy? 5 Key Elements You Don’t Want to Overlook

When It Comes to Content Marketing …
During the third quarter of 2019 report data showed that B2B marketers saw in-person events, content marketing, traditional e-mail, and paid social as the most effective B2B marketing channels. (MarketingCharts)

What Else?

Facebook began testing the elimination of “like” counts in news-feed posts. (TechCrunch)
Among senior B2B marketers, a sizable 82 percent viewed content as important for achieving marketing goals. (ClickZ)
80 percent of B2B buyers expected more B2C-like experiences. (Webbiquity)
B2B marketers saw their websites as an effective method for building awareness, however the sites often fail to offer compelling content and directly answer top questions, according to Q3 research from Forrester. (MediaPost)

Read more on this topic:

5 Unexpected Content Marketing Benefits of B2B Podcasting
Lee Odden Shares His Secret to Content Marketing Fitness #CMWorld

When It Comes to Social Media …
Q3 and Q4 saw a number of reports that detailed the health of social media and how marketers, brands, and consumers have used various platforms.

Liking posts topped a Q3 list of how people interact with brands on social media platforms, at 51 percent, followed by 31 percent who leave reviews, while millennials were more likely to purchase due to social ads. (Social Media Today)

What Else?

Consumer conversations about brands shared very little crossover from social media listening and offline discussion. (Marketing Land)
60 percent of regular emoji users like brands using emojis that match their own personality, and some 51 percent are more likely to comment on social media posts from brands that use emojis. (MarketingCharts)
56 percent of Gen X consumers find too much advertising on social platforms. (eMarketer)

Read more on this topic:

Margaret Shepard Shares How Mayo Clinic Built its Facebook Live Broadcast Strategy #DSMPLS
5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement

When It Comes to Influencer Marketing …
B2B influencer marketing continued its growth during Q3 and Q4, and influencer advertisements were seen to have generated 277 percent more emotional intensity and 87 percent more memory encoding than traditional television ads. (eMarketer)

What Else?

Global spending for influencer marketing was predicted to top $5 billion and could reach as high as $10 billion over the next two years. (Social Media Today)
Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. and Canada saw 83 percent year-over-year growth. (The Drum)
70 percent of U.S. consumers who use social media platforms and follow at least one influencer said that they trust the opinions of influencers at least as much as those of their own friends, with 78 percent trusting influencer opinions over those presented in traditional digital ads. (MediaPost)
Micro and niche-influencers were forging stronger target audience connections and boosting long-term loyalty. (eMarketer)

Read more on this topic:

50 Content Marketing Influencers and Experts to Follow 2019 #CMWorld
11 Qualities You Should be Looking for to Find Your B2B Influencer Match

When It Comes to The TopRank Marketing Team …
Q3 and Q4 saw the team at TopRank Marketing continuing a busy and productive year, with some press highlights during this time including:

Lee Odden: “B2B Doesn’t Have To Mean Boring To Boring” [Podcast] (B2B Marketing Exchange)
Why Experience Matters [Video] (The New Economy)
Eight Colors That Will Brightly Grow Your Personal Brand (Forbes)
What Customer Experience Management Means For Today’s Business Ecosystem [Video] (Adobe Experience Cloud)
How To Build A B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy For 2020 (Demand Gen Report)
How to Build a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy for 2020 [Infographic] (Social Media Today)
The Stranger Things In B2B Marketing: 5 Ways to Avoid The Upside-Down of ABM (Engagio)
Augmented And Virtual Reality: The Latest Engagement Drivers In B2B Marketing (Demand Gen Report)
The Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing for CMOs [Infographic] (Social Media Today)
A Shark’s Perspective – Episode 147 – Lee Odden [Podcast] (A Shark’s Perspective)
5 Crucial Ingredients for a Tremendous Content Marketing Strategy [Infographic] (Social Media Today)
5 Easy Ways Your Brand Can Use Twitter Video for More Engagement (Social Report)
The Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020 [Infographic] (Social Media Today)

Goodbye, 2019. Hello and Welcome, 2020.
B2B marketers, we hope that your 2020 is filled to the brim with digital marketing success and innovation, and as a bonus list to help you get the most of the year, here are the top 25 posts we’ve published during that past year, each offering plenty of insight and numerous industry innovators to learn from and follow going forward:

The Top 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers in 2019 by Lane R. Ellis
BIGLIST of 50 Top Marketing Blogs for 2019 – Martech Edition by Lee Odden
7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020 by Lee Odden
Explore, Experience, Engage: 6 Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2019 by Lee Odden
Top Marketing Resources for CMOs in 2019 by Lee Odden
Over 50 Top Social Media Marketing Blogs by Lee Odden
Dare to Be Different: 5 Fresh Examples of Innovative B2B Content Marketing by Lane R. Ellis
10 Free Online Courses to Optimize Your Marketing Skills by Lane R. Ellis
Take 2019 By Storm: Get Inspired By These 11 Content Marketing Quotes by Anne Leuman
50 Content Marketing Influencers and Experts to Follow 2019 #CMWorld by Lane R. Ellis
Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy by Elizabeth Williams
LinkedIn’s List of 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know by Lane R. Ellis
5 B2B Brands Delivering Great Customer Experiences by Lane R. Ellis
B2B Marketing Examples: 7 Bold Examples of Interactive B2B Content by Joshua Nite
The B2B Marketing Funnel is Dead: Say Hello to the Trust Funnel by Nick Nelson
Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers by Nick Nelson
50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers, Experts and Speakers in 2019 by Lee Odden
Around the World in 50 Captivating Digital Marketing Statistics by Lane R. Ellis
5 Content Promotion Tactics To Make You (Almost) Famous by Lane R. Ellis
5 Examples of Remarkable Content Marketing in Action by Lane R. Ellis
Key B2B Takeaways From the 2019 Internet Trends Report by Lane R. Ellis
20 Podcasts To Elevate Your B2B Marketing by Lane R. Ellis
Break Free of Boring B2B with Interactive Influencer Content by Lee Odden
80+ New Social Media Marketing Statistics for B2B Marketers by Lane R. Ellis
Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections by Nick Nelson

2020 sees an increasingly tricky and quickly-changing landscape for marketers, requiring expertise, dedication, and time — leading some to hire a professional B2B marketing agency like TopRank Marketing, which had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

*Disclosure: LinkedIn and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post B2B Marketing In 2019 — The Year In Review appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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