One of the most important efforts in terms of integrated communication is to overcome internal silo thinking and spread consistent messages across channels. Against this backdrop, content marketing and owned media are gaining new relevance – and with it, technologies like marketing automation and artificial intelligence. In general, digitization is a must – earlier trends, such as communicating online and via social media, have long since moved from being optional to mandatory. Accordingly, the customer journey is becoming less linear.
The aim is to accompany leads individually with customized lead marketing in their purchase decision. It is advisable to present one’s own brand in an authentic way. All this shows: communication is becoming more multi-layered and complex. So it is even more important to stay up-to-date and to know the following trends.
1. Trend: Integrated communications – corporate communications, PR and marketing become one
In the meantime, the principle of "first the content, then the channels" has become more and more important undisputed. To implement this basic content marketing maxim, you need an integrated approach. This is solely due to the fact that there are more and more opportunities to get in touch with one’s own target group and to stand out in the flood of information – be it through cooperation with internal as well as external influencers and multipliers or through the informative preparation and communicative use of existing data material. Against this backdrop, data PR is an important trend in B2B communications.
Either way, customers and prospects need consistent messages throughout the entire customer journey. The example of influencer marketing shows that it is often not (or no longer) possible to assign a measure to the area of corporate communications, PR or marketing. What is needed is a rethink and reorganization of communication. It is essential to overcome former boundaries and pull together in a communicative direction.
In this context, agencies that either specialize in traditional public relations or offer marketing services will have a hard time in the future. As the current study "The future of PR" shows The study by aclipp shows that 71 percent of agencies already classify themselves as communications agencies with a holistic offering. The same applies to companies: More and more are relying on a central organization of external communications.
2. Trend: online media are outpacing traditional media
In the future, it will of course continue to be important to include digital channels in the communications mix. According to the current study "B2B Online Marketing Trends 2022 According to eMinded, more than two-thirds of respondents (77 percent) already use online channels such as their own website, social media platforms or apps to capture the interest of potential customers and generate leads.
Among the PR professionals surveyed, the situation is almost even clearer: online media are outstripping traditional print media in terms of importance. In addition, it is apparent that social media are now considered to be on a par with print media (94 percent). At the same time, social networks are fuelling the growing popularity of audio and video formats. Corporate podcasts, for example, are more popular than ever before: more and more companies are setting up their own corporate podcast or using audio and video contributions to position themselves as experts.
3. Trend: the customer journey is becoming increasingly individualized
Meanwhile, the customer journey almost always starts online. But from this point on, the journey of stakeholders and potential customers through the channels – unlike in the past – is less linear. One of the current trends – and a major challenge – is to make the customer journey more and more individualized. The means to an end: Tailor-made and target-group-specific content that is available across channels along the individual touchpoints.
In this context, "tailored" means for two purposes: On the one hand, companies position themselves over time as a reliable partner that knows the needs of customers and prospects, addresses them in a useful way, and ultimately presents the right solution. On the other hand, companies are required to accompany each individual lead as individually as possible. If a person is interested in a certain topic, he or she usually searches online for suitable material. They may come across a white paper that they download, then attend a webinar, and finally fill out the callback form on the website. After reading the white paper, another lead could continue researching on other websites, which would lead to a completely different customer journey.
4. Trend: digitization and artificial intelligence (AI)
More and more digital tools are needed to serve the multitude of channels as simultaneously as possible and in real time. Otherwise, it is not very efficient – if not impossible – to implement a content-centric approach and to provide stakeholders and potential customers along the customer journey with consistent messages and helpful information. In this context, the newsroom concept, previously more familiar to journalistic editorial teams, is making its way into companies: The corporate newsroom is becoming the control center of companies.
For maximum efficiency and high-quality output, suitable AI-based software tools are indispensable. According to the aclipp survey, almost all PR drivers now use intelligent software for. While the use of AI tools is still often a thing of the future in communications work today, the trend is clearly heading in this direction. Companies should definitely address this issue now to avoid being left behind. Those who score points with the target group using technologies such as voice mining, text mining and digital assistants are already at a clear advantage.
There are plenty of examples of how marketers can use data to target customers in B2C: for example, advertising for umbrellas when bad weather is forecast in a particular region. One thing is certain: Data is the new gold. A treasure that companies had better unearth yesterday rather than tomorrow. The appropriate tools for this are intelligent tools based on artificial intelligence.
5. Trend: Strengthening the brand with authentic communication
It is thanks to Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) that values such as moral, social and ecological responsibility have also entered the business world. How customers evaluate a brand or make a purchasing decision is closely linked to the issues of authenticity and responsible action by an organization. The Truth about Gen Z study by McCann Worldgroup shows that 57 percent of respondents would pay more for products from a company that shares their values.
Social commitment, diversity and environmental protection occupy the top spots. B2B companies are also well advised to be clear about their self-image – their purpose – and communicate it in an authentic way. It is obvious that sustainable action and a corporate culture characterized by diversity are becoming increasingly important for a company’s own purpose.