So, what really happened in 2018?

So, how was 2018 for your business? Was it everything you’ve dreamed of or more? Or was it one of those years you would prefer to completely forget? Here is how 2018 was for the B2B market, based on some of the most popular trends out there.

Before thinking of 2019 trends and strategies, we should take a moment and analyze the year that’s about to pass. Back in December 2017, e-commerce experts were teaching the world about strategies to watch out for in 2018.
Remember how 2018 was named the year of the customer or how B2B marketers were strongly advised to create the right kind of content? And what about the fuss made around video marketing and the use of AI? Were these trends a reality or just words thrown in the air, without an actual meaning? This is why yearly retrospectives are good to have.

You can check if your sources in terms of trends and strategies can actually be trusted. After all, we all want a peek into the future before anyone else, but we have to make sure that we’re not the victims of a sneaky fortune teller.

So, how was 2018 for your business? Was it everything you’ve dreamed of or more? Or was it one of those years you would prefer to completely forget? Here is how 2018 was for the B2B market, based on some of the most popular trends out there.

2018: the year of the customer

Well, they go this one right, because here are we are, one foot in 2018 and the rest of us grabbing 2019, still thinking about what customers want from us. Do buyer personas mean anything to you? Because for 77%1 of successful B2B companies, buyer personas represent the guaranty that all strategies are customer oriented, thus enhancing experiences and building loyalty.

So, yes, customers have ruled 2018 and chances are that they will be doing the same thing in the following year. Plus, here is something that might interest you. Reputation has been identified as the key selling point. Reputation is built by your customers. To make sure that this is a positive one, obviously, clients need to be as happy as clams. 2018 certainly was the year of feedback, from this point of view.

2018: the year of subscriptions

This discussion regarding subscriptions dates back a long time ago, but now it seems that simple assumptions are turning into realities. Take the big player Apple, reporting a 31% growth in revenue coming from subscriptions. Sure, you could argue that this is an isolated case as this is Apple we are talking about, but may we remind you of a report realized by McKinsey & Company2 we’ve mentioned a few weeks back in one of our blog posts. There it was clearly stated that year after year, for the last 5 years, subscription revenue has increased by 100%.

2018 is definitely the year of subscriptions and if we may say so, this is definitely one trend you want to watch in the following year. Remember that by 2020, 80% of the existing companies, plus all new players will be subscription based. Gartner3 says so.

2018: the GDPR Year

Subscriptions, important, no doubt, customer experiences, essential in gaining profit, content marketing, lead nurturing, all have meaning for the companies involved, but nothing speaks as loud as GDPR.

This event is something that the entire eCommerce world had feared for the last two years, but it must have been in
secret, because even though the D-day came this year, no one, but no one was actually prepared for the switch.

Confusion? Yes. Over time? Definitely. Deadlines? Most certainly. The result? GDPR compliant websites that guard the privacy of their customers. The good news is that it passed and hopefully, you are part of the list of websites that managed to respect the GDPR checklist, having thus avoided a pretty fat fine.

2018: the year when Mobile takes over the eCommerce

Indeed, mobile-optimized websites are just as necessary as switching to subscriptions. 2018 was all about convincing developers to optimize their websites and to prepare them for traffic, as well as to teach them exactly how to do that by means of tips & tricks.

In 2018, 80%4 of the orders placed by customers were made through websites, not mobile apps, not email or phone or even physical stores. That’s why you need to optimize your website for mobile use. This year, we’ve understood the power of mobile in the eCommerce world.

2018: last year in marketing

Now, obviously, we’ve talked about 2018 trends and insights last year. The entire world did. And one thing all discussions had in common was video marketing. Indeed, this was one of those poster kids that promised the moon and stars and by the looks of it, it has certainly not failed to deliver. In 2018, 64%5 of companies have increased the amount of video material distributed through their communication channels.

Content is also staying strong and 2018 has given long-form content (because we’re still counting on detailed stories to do the job) a new direction. By means of content, eCommerce players are educating their audience, they are trying to become an information center and to provide readers with focused content. Why? Because in 2018, SEO algorithms changed, promoting informational content. This, of course, led 77%5 of all B2B eCommerce marketers to use educational content to nurture their audience and 90%7 of successful businesses prioritize the informational needs of their audiences.

2018: in the world of payments

And this is the part that interests us the most. 2018 has not spared the payment method world of changes. The trend is certainly that of simplifying things as much as possible, credit cards being the preferred payment, 94%8, followed by specific purchase orders, 50%. And here comes the best part. In 2018, there have been a lot of talks about localized payment methods and the trend is to go in that direction or better said, the markets you are in fact targeting.

This too is a form of simplification, because it comes naturally to pay in your local currency or using a payment method you are familiar with.

If we could point out that one aspect that’s specific for 2018, then it would certainly have to be the power of customers. If you look closely enough, you’ll see how every trend, payments included, changed to improve the customer’s experience. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s pretty clear that we can not shake off the saying, the customer is king. So, better put it at the top of your 2019 trends & insights list.

Notes:

1 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/b2b-ecommerce-trends/#the-time-is-now-for-b2b

2 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/thinking-inside-the-subscription-box-new-research-on-ecommerce-consumers

3 https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/moving-to-a-software-subscription-model

4 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/b2b-ecommerce-trends/#the-time-is-now-for-b2b

5, 6, 7 https://www.slideshare.net/CMI/b2b-content-marketing-2019-benchmarks-budgets-and-trendsnorth-america?ref=https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/10/research-b2b-audience

8 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/b2b-ecommerce-trends/#the-time-is-now-for-b2b