Spring has sprung. You can feel it in the air. It’s the season of rebirth and renewal. Out with old and in with the new, right?
Well, sometimes, it’s actually the other way around. Some of the latest trends in B2B marketing today have actually been in use since anyone can remember, but had gotten sidelined and are now seeing a strong renaissance. We’ll take a look at six of these trends in this post.
Also, I’d like to share a very interesting response from our Easter influencer outreach, since I think it’s closely related to today’s topic and worth mentioning here.
A couple of weeks ago, I went around asking marketing influencers:
“If you could bring back or revive a past trend, activity, or practice that got lost in the Digital Age, what would it be and why?”
Jason Keath, CEO at Social Fresh Conference, gave a very insightful response, which I’ll point to below.
Anyway, here are six old-school trends making a comeback in B2B marketing today.
1. Direct Mail
I remember back in the late aughts how a lot of folks in marketing proclaimed that direct mail was dead, allegedly killed by email. Flash forward several years later, and we see something very surprising.
Not only does direct mail continue to be alive and well, but it’s also actually becoming a more important marketing channel, especially as people continue to feel overwhelmed with the amount of email and social media messages they regularly get.
- 39% of B2B companies now use direct mail, a percentage which is expected to grow.
- Response rates for direct mail are, on average, 10 to 30 times higher than that of digital.
- 60% of direct mail recipients were influenced to visit a website.
- Direct mail is more effective at generating brand recall and driving a purchase.
Why is direct mail now making a comeback? A lot of it boils down to technology. It’s now easier to personalize and segment mailing campaigns using CRM tools, while it’s also much simpler to track direct mail campaign performance with analytics.
2. Print Marketing
The rise and fall (and revival) of print marketing also mirror direct mail’s trajectory. In 2007, snail-mail catalog deliveries peaked at 19.6 billion. In 2016, this dropped by more than 50% to 9.6 billion deliveries.
While this looks alarming, savvy marketers actually see this drop as an opportunity to leverage a less crowded channel. As digital content continues its explosive growth, prospects also increasingly experience content fatigue.
Plus, with the help of today’s digital marketing tools and technology, print marketing wields a significant impact on buying behavior:
- 69% of consumers consult a printed catalogue before making an online purchase.
- Print marketing recipients view print materials for an average of 30 minutes.
- Catalogues drive an average of 2.5 purchases.
Print marketing initiatives like catalogs, postcards, and mailers are crucial parts of multi-channel marketing programs. This is why I completely agree with Jason Keath’s answer to our Easter-themed influencer outreach question:
“Postcards. They are the Tweets of their day. Short letters that are easy to compose and send. But they can mean so much for sending your love to friends and family while you travel.
The mail we receive today is so full of junk. It’s nice to see a letter or a postcard from someone who took the time to write something down, but a stamp, and send you some old fashioned snail mail.”
In fact, 50% of postcard recipients say that postcard marketing makes them feel more valued and creates a more authentic relationship.
3. Soundless Videos
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a past marketing trend, but it’s a very old (think early 1900s) production format that’s gaining traction among marketers today.
Soundless videos make sense because audiences are simply fed up with the interruptive noise of auto-play videos. According to multiple publishers, around 85% of Facebook video views take place on mute. Even Google Chrome has updated its settings to enable auto-play only for muted or soundless video ads.
If you’re not yet making them part of your video content portfolio, silent videos are definitely worth a try. To make the most of soundless videos, apply best practices like powerful visual messaging and closed captioning.
4. Cold Emails
In just a few short years after direct mail had been declared dead, some marketers also said the same thing about email. This has been thoroughly debunked countless times, but still continues to pop up time and again.
Cold emails, in particular, bore the brunt of this email-is-dead onslaught that, until recently, most sources simply advised against sending out cold emails altogether.
The fact is, cold emails are an essential element of the entire B2B marketing process. That’s because:
- They help you reach decision makers where they actually spend most of their time—their inbox.
- Cold emails are one-on-one, targeted, and personalized—which are qualities you don’t easily find in other digital channels.
- They enable you to improve both quantity and quality of touches.
It’s these things that make cold emails an indispensable tactic in trending marketing strategies like ABM.
This visual guide reveals the 15 best-kept B2B email secrets to win prospects’ hearts
5. Phone Outreach
Since the dawn of digital marketing, outbound telemarketing hasn’t really enjoyed a stellar reputation. Together with traditional channels like direct mail and print marketing, it was one of the first marketing tactics to be labeled “obsolete” by naysayers.
In recent years, however, more and more marketers are starting to embrace phone outreach and its new role in the multi-channel marketing mix. Telemarketing enables a two-way conversation between people, which is what you need to:
- Collecting sales intelligence and profiling prospects
- Nurturing and qualifying leads
- Reinforcing and responding to touches made in other channels
- Converting leads and closing deals
I think phone outreach will always have a place in marketing. You can track or message prospects all day but, when it’s all said and done, you still need to pick up the phone and talk to a person.
6. Marketing’s CX Role
On a more strategic level, the marketing trend that’s also seeing a resurgence is our role as marketers in driving customer experience (CX). Forrester calls this the “B2B Marketing Renaissance”, and it’s something to smile about.
For too long now, we marketers have taken almost a hands-off approach at CX. We’ve traditionally had very little interaction with customers that marketing teams have nearly zero impact on the CX process.
Now that buyers are following a self-directed, nonlinear path to purchase, marketers are becoming more involved in the revenue generation process and the customer life cycle.
We’re no longer just suppliers of leads. We’re now sources of revenue and customer advocacy. That’s a change I’m really looking forward to.
These are “old” trends that are making a comeback. If you ask me, I think these are all welcomed changes. It’s about time.
I hope you had a great Easter!