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6 key trends impacting the B2B marketing landscape in 2013

So, as it turned out the Mayans got it wrong, and thankfully the world didn’t meet its end on 21st December 2012. But even though Armageddon may have been avoided, there are still plenty of challenges facing B2B marketers in 2013.

We at D&B have been putting our heads together, and have identified six B2B marketing trends that we think are going to have an increasing impact on the B2B sales and marketing landscape. Some are based on changes that are already underway, while others have yet to achieve their maximum impact. But all are factors you’ll need to carefully consider if you’re to make the most of scarce resources over the next 12 months.

  1. First is the increasing importance of the individual. We’re already seeing this in the drive towards more personalised marketing campaigns, and as available data gets richer and budget allocations tighter, so the more sophisticated targeting of individuals can only accelerate. Indeed, recipients are already coming to expect this, making personalisation the norm.
  2. A natural by-product of this is the growing pressure on CRMs to deliver. CRM has underachieved for far too long, but with the increased availability of automated data input and improved data quality resulting from solutions such as Data as a Service, CRM now has a real chance to shine - with results that have long been promised but never quite achieved. 
  3. And then of course there’s CRM’s emerging rival Marketing Automation (MA). As MA solutions get more sophisticated and businesses see the rewards that others are reaping, so B2B marketers will either have to join the bandwagon or quite simply get left behind. We also see this becoming a key battleground for the major platform providers, leading to dramatic consolidation of CRM and MA vendors.
  4. For CRM and MA systems to succeed, however, businesses need to acknowledge once and for all that salespeople have better things to do with their time than inputting data, and that marketers are failing in their role if they don’t take steps to enable sales data to be auto-populated. We’ll therefore see the increased recognition that data (in terms of its quality, depth and relevance) can make or break the success of CRM and Marketing Automation, and also their ROI.
  5. Another well-documented B2B marketing trend is the need for organisations to recognise that ‘work’ is now not just a place but a state of mind. The ubiquity of tablets and mobile computing mean people can literally be ‘at work’ anytime, anywhere, so businesses need to factor this into their planning when looking at how best to engage with customers and/or prospects.
  6. Last but certainly not least is the perennial question of budgets. These will be determined by individual business cases (making the data used for campaign targeting even more important). B2B organisations simply will not spend on marketing unless the results can be accurately measured – with improved data and systems driving this ability. And CEOs and CIOs will be more involved in the allocation of sales and marketing spend (and, as many CMOs will spend more on IT than any other department, often their CIO will effectively work for them). B2B marketers will therefore need to be even more innovative in finding new ways of keeping all these key stakeholders engaged.

Whichever of these trends impacts you the most, you can be assured that D&B will support you in meeting all these challenges and more - in 2013 and beyond.

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