2020 B2B Marketing Predictions: New Ideas for Old, Tired Challenges

Marketing has been through an incredible amount of change over the last decade. We’ve seen our industry disrupted by an onslaught of technology desperately trying to solve the gap between how the customer buys in our rapidly-changing digital world – and how we as businesses can engage and serve them.

Ten years is a long time to see many, many trends come and go, but have the challenges really changed?

Here at The Pedowitz Group, we don’t think so. Unfortunately, the problems we saw with our customers 10 years ago are still the same today. Problems such as:  

  • Digital Transformation – How can marketing leverage technology to become more efficient and effective?  
  • Customer Experience – How can marketing create the best experience possible to meet the customer where they prefer and beat the competition?  
  • Business Accountability – How can I prove marketing’s revenue contribution to the business and earn a seat at the revenue table?  

Looking forward to the next decade, we asked our experts to B2B marketing predictions what we might see (or continue to see) for the marketing industry. We included strategy and technical experts to provide a balanced viewpoint.

The questions we asked are:

  • What are your 2020 predictions for the profession of marketing?
  • What are your predictions for customer experience?
  • What are your 2020 marketing predictions for digital transformation?
  • What are your predictions for marketing ROI accountability?
  • Do you think marketing budgets will increase or decrease in 2020? Why or why not?
  • How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) impact marketing?

Click to jump to a section:

The profession | Customer Experience | Digital Transformation | ROI Accountability | Budgets | Machine Learning

Without further ado, here’s our 2020 B2B marketing predictions:

Too often, businesses focus on emerging marketing trends without a defined strategy first. Our 2020 B2B marketing predictions speak to how companies must evolve to stay ahead.

What are your 2020 predictions for the profession of marketing?

Tracy Wehringer (Senior Consultant, Enterprise Marketing Services)

“Marketing will be viewed as more of a strategic tool by businesses, but there will remain a gap between expectations and ROI. Those who cannot demonstrate ROI for their marketing efforts will see their budgets reduced, or their role be relegated to low-ROI tactical initiatives, or being filled by another who shares the same vision and expectations of the CEO.”  

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Pamela Muldoon (Senior Consultant, Customer Operations )

“With millennials now moving into leadership positions within marketing departments, the need for solid mentorship and coaching is becoming more critical. For many of these young leaders, they may be the first in their organization with their title and don’t have access to in-house expertise for guidance and coaching.

A great example of this is the role of Content Manager or Content Director. Content Marketing as an industry has really only been around for 12 years or so. It’s taken a decade from many organizations to add this role to their teams. It’s now time for the first generation of content marketing leadership to mentor or coach this next generation coming into these roles.”  

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Scott Rankin (Technical Account Director, Sales & Marketing Operations)

“Greater adoption of AI/CMS/MA integrations and consolidation of marketing platforms within larger organizations. For example, migrating to platforms such as Adobe and integrating Audience Manager with Experience Manager and Campaigns to provide a seamless customer experience across multiple devices.

Marketing managers will need to have greater technical experience vs. the years before due to the adoption of technology platforms. Marketing Operations will provide a greater role since customers are interacting more digitally and socially vs. the traditional Sales route.”  

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What are your B2B marketing predictions for Customer Experience?

Rebecca Barkan (VP and Principal, Enterprise Marketing Services)

“Integrated customer experience will be a must.

Customers will continue to expect a personalized individualized experience, especially given the amount of data they know we have on them. Businesses are failing to operationalize the use of customer data, missing opportunities to expand relationships and head-off services issues.

Clients will begin to demand treatment as a ‘known customer’ end to end, leveraging things like app in-store experiences, personalized customer service, and relevant sales recommendations.” 

Find Rebecca on LinkedIn

Paul Johnson (Senior Consultant, Customer Operations)

“Mostly bad news. 2020 will see an increasing number of Customer Experience Managers and VPs of Customer Experience roles, but most companies will fail to understand what is required to manage omni-channel customer experience. Fragmented experiences will continue to be the norm as most companies fall short of implementing true customer experience management.

As companies struggle with CX transformation, growing expectations from the customer to have access to more personalized and relevant information at each and every touchpoint rises.

Machine Learning and AI will help larger companies in meeting this customer demand, particularly through social engagement at scale.”

Find Paul on LinkedIn

Lorena Harris (Senior Consultant, Enterprise Marketing)

“If Marketing continues to be mostly a technology game, AI will be used to define customer experience. AI-driven marketing capabilities will grow – from automated SEO to Next Best Offer, from Natural Language Processing to Machine Learning to true Artificial Intelligence. But only large tech companies will adopt for a while. 
 
AI-driven Personalization may be the exception. Companies of all sizes will use dynamic content for 1:1 or 1:Few communications. This could include segment-specific copy changes to short-format tactics as well as custom presentations of longer-format content.” 

Find Lorena on LinkedIn and Twitter

What are your 2020 B2B marketing predictions for digital transformation?

Our B2B 2020 marketing predictions for digital transformation believe this Marketoonist comic will still, unfortunately, hold true in many organizations

Kevin Joyce (VP and Principal, SMB Marketing & Value Engineering)

“We will stop talking about digital transformation within 5 years because all companies that are around in 5 years will have done this. The transformations will be done.

We are past the peak of hyperbole in terms of MarTech, we are past the trough of disillusionment, and on the solid path to measuring ROI from investments.” 

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Brian Johnson (Senior Consultant, Sales & Marketing Operations)

“Business will continue to struggle with how to apply technology to solve business problems and identify which aspects of business warrant or benefit most from digital transformation.

We will continue to see the majority of organizations looking toward technology as the answer and neglect to address the more challenging components of transformation such as company culture, process, politics, change management. “Digital transformation” will continue to be seen as the miracle cure and few organizations will master the right blend of technical and non-technical elements of transformation.” 

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Tracy Wehringer (Senior Consultant, Enterprise Marketing)

“Over the past few years, I’ve seen marketing own and push for digital transformation. If marketing did not partner with the Chief Information or Chief Technology Officer, and marketing was unable to show specific KPIs, then dollars were not put back into the marketing budget.

CIOs and CTOs realize that digital transformation is mission-critical for future proofing their enterprise. Digital transformation helps beat the competition and provides speed to market for products/solutions/offers.  In addition, it can provide instant resolution for customer tickets, increasing overall customer satisfaction.“ 

Find Tracy on LinkedIn

What are your predictions for marketing ROI accountability? 

Jeff Pedowitz (President and CEO)

“Marketing has the same challenges it did 10 years ago, only worse.  Most marketers struggle to measure accountability and contribution to the business.  With the rise of MarTech, additional investment has flowed into Marketing, but most of that technology has been poorly adopted and leveraged.

So, not only can marketers still not demonstrate impact on revenue and pipeline, but it is showing a lower ROI because of all the technology investment.

C-Suite executives are under the mistaken impression that investing more in technology means less investment in headcount to manage it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  B2B marketing predictions in 2020 is hard, and it takes a village to run it successfully.  Most marketers will continue to struggle in 2020.” 

Find Jeff on LinkedIn and Twitter

The Pedowitz Group's B2B 2020 Marketing Predictions believe that marketers will still struggle to prove profitability without a true revenue marketing mindset (cartoon from the Marketoonist used with permission)

Thom Mead (Senior Consultant, Marketing Operations)

“Often viewed as a money pit, Marketers will be increasingly under pressure to justify their existence and their budget requests.  But there is a Catch-22 here.: If you aren’t spending enough to be effective, then you won’t be effective. 

But if you are spending enough, you need to show the cause-and-effect of the money spent to earn the confidence of the business. Prove you are a prudent steward of the company’s money and worthy of increased funding.  

Throwing more money and more technology at the problem will not win the day if the previous investments repeatedly did not demonstrate ROI.  This is one of the reasons why CMOs generally average only 3-4 years in their role.  Don’t let the tail wag the dog.  Sound investments in MarTech start with good Marketing planning and principles.”  

Find Thom on LinkedIn

Evan Gullborg (Senior Consultant, Enterprise Technology) 

“ROI and revenue accountability will always be a thorn in the marketing department’s side. It will never go away, and it shouldn’t. It’s well past time for marketing to take responsibility over their spend and the revenue impact they make to the business.

As time progresses, marketing will continue to see the analytics platforms become better and business accountability will be easier for marketing teams to accomplish.

Technology aside, having the right people with the right skills is very important. Marketing operations will be critical to have on the team if any marketer wants to show ROI.”

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Do you think marketing budgets will increase or decrease in 2020? Why or why not?

Thom Mead (Senior Consultant, Enterprise Operations)

“Marketing budgets will increase slightly in the 2020 as CEOs as a category are increasingly skeptical about Marketing’s ROI, particularly as it relates to their investments in MarTech over the last decade. 

Investments will be focused on improving ROI and Marketing Attribution.  Those that got it right (and can show ROI) will be poised for a disproportionate increase in funding.  Those who have not seen the results their vendor promised should seek professional help. 

If you think the professionals are expensive, wait until you see what the amateurs are going to cost!”  

Find Thom on LinkedIn

 Bruce Huie (Strategic Account Director)

“Increase. Here’s one example to illustrate: In 2020, we’ll see brands tapping more into the potential of video and interactive content on social media to get attention, but they must follow it up by being authentic on their social channels and by working hard to nurture a community of engaged, loyal followers.  

Find Bruce on LinkedIn and Twitter

Ann Cloutier (Consultant, Sales & Marketing Operations)

“I think budgets will probably grow just due to the sheer number of technologies available. As they become more ingrained and commonplace, company budgets will have to grow to accommodate.” 

Find Ann on LinkedIn

How will artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) impact marketing?

Paul Johnson (Senior Consultant, Customer Operations)

“I think artificial intelligence and machine learning will be critical in 2020. Real-time customer classification and increased online differentiated experiences (i.e., pricing, tiered services, etc.) driven by machine learning will become the norm for majority of mid-sized and enterprise customers with online presences.

Also, AI-enhanced attribution models will enable increased marketing ROI accountability and extended traditional KPI timelines; the pendulum swings back away from revenue accountability toward customer acquisition and engagement accountability.” 

Find Paul on LinkedIn

Brian Johnson (Senior Consultant, Sales & Marketing Operations)

“The challenge with AI and ML will be how to use it – and how it will improve effectiveness.

First, there will be a trust-in-the-numbers issue. People may not be convinced that the computer will make “wise” choices (which is true). The decisions a computer makes is only based on the information we give it, while humans can factor other “personal experience” information that a computer didn’t have access to.  For this reason, effectiveness will be a hot debate.

Second, there will be a challenge with what these concepts mean and how they’re applied within solutions. What do we want to use ML or AI to learn or predict? This can be a wide range of performance or predictive applications for marketing, so organizations will need to figure out where it will most effective when applied.

I believe most will get it wrong more than they will get it right.” 

Find Brian on LinkedIn and Twitter

In conclusion…

Our 2020 B2B marketing predictions show that in the next decade, many similar challenges marketers saw in the past ten years will still be an issue. But a major opportunity exists for those who are able to tie improvements in customer experience, digital transformation, and business accountability to revenue.

To learn more about where your peers are in terms of their marketing maturity and more commentary on our market, check out our Revenue Marketing Index 2019 Report – and thanks for reading our 2020 B2B marketing predictions!

Build your 2020 marketing with insights from our Revenue Marketing Index report

Note: All Marketoonist images used with permission.

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