- We’ve all experienced the changes the world of B2B marketing has undergone in even the past five years, so what can we expect come 2025? Mark Emond, a 25-year marketing veteran, shares his predictions.
- There’s some good news for marketers. Because marketing has become such a crucial component to nearly every part of the B2B buyer journey, “marketing today is more important than ever before, and I think this is a trend line that will only continue,” Mark says.
- One big predicted shift? Sales and marketing teams will work more closely together under a C-level role called Chief Revenue Officer.
To say B2B marketing has changed these past five years is a total understatement. It’s drastically changed, due to, in a large part, the big shifts happening over in the B2C world.
That makes us wonder: What will it look like five years from now — in 2025?
Well, Mark Emond has some predictions. You could say he’s seen some changes since his career in marketing began nearly 25 years ago, which included spending some time as the director of North American marketing at a little company you may have heard of called IBM. Now, he’s the founder and president of Demand Spring, a revenue marketing agency out of Ottawa, Canada.
“I like to joke that, when I started in my career, marketing’s job was to keep the food warm and the beer cold,” he says. “And today, I think we, in many organizations, have a strategic seat at the table — at the C-suite table … I really believe it’s the golden age of marketing.”
Mark joined The B2B Mix Show podcast, and we drilled him with questions about his predictions for the future of the B2B marketing industry and what it’ll look like come 2025. (It’ll be here before you know it!)
To start, what role will marketing play in 2025?
Let’s kick this off by saying: It’s a good time to be a marketer.
Because the marketer plays such an crucial role in nearly every part of the B2B buying process, “marketing today is more important than ever before, and I think this is a trend line that will only continue,” Mark says.
Think about it: When you used to go buy a car, you’d rely on the salesperson at the dealership to give you the low-down on your options. Now, by the time you go buy a car, thanks to this little thing called the internet, you probably know what make, model and features you want. Not to mention, you probably know exactly what the dealer paid for it, so you can negotiate your way to a good deal.
“It’s very similar in B2B today where the buyer interacts with digital marketing and marketing-driven content through much of their buyer journey, and the buyer is really in control, so we’re more important than ever before,” Mark says.
Bottom line: That’s good news for us!
How will the B2B marketing organization structure shift by 2025?
Next, we wanted to know how we can expect B2B marketing teams to shift in the coming years. Will there be any major changes?
Mark says yes.
He’s been following an interesting trend lately — the rise of a new role at companies called the chief revenue officer. Folks in this role are tasked with bringing together sales and marketing teams. These two teams, which have notoriously been at odds, are coming together under the chief revenue officer.
“I think sales and marketing will be more in alignment, both figuratively speaking and literally speaking in terms of organizational alignment,” Mark says. “The chief revenue officer will unite the two.”
Additionally, he predicts more and more organizations will structure themselves around the customer lifecycle, meaning they create roles tailored to each part of the consumer journey.
Now, in terms of the types of employment within a marketing team, Mark thinks about this in three umbrellas:
☂️ You’ve got your old-school employees — you know, the ones on payroll.
☂️ You’ve got your flex and freelance workers. Mark expects continued growth amongst this group of employees.
☂️ You’ve got your artificial intelligence — basically the technology that’ll take over routine tasks.
OK, reading that last one might have felt a bit jarring, so we asked…
Will robots take over our jobs? How will the martech landscape evolve?
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard about this whole idea of robots taking over jobs. In a number of industries, this is a very real threat, but Mark assures us marketers will be OK.
He suspects artificial intelligence and marketing automation will continue to take over more routine tasks, leaving us humans with more capacity to focus on analysis and critical thinking.
“I think we’ll spend more time thinking and less time doing,” Mark says.
That means those skills — the ability to analyze and think critically — will be in demand. Mark also points out that more and more marketing teams will want technically-inclined people, so they can help manage these tools.
Now, we see the martech landscape growing, but how exactly?
Looking back at the past five years, Mark puts this in perspective: Five years ago, there were about 400 martech apps, he cites. Now? We’re at over 7,000. And he doesn’t really see a sign of this slowing down.
Sure, we may see some acquisitions along the way, but he suspects there will be continued growth in voice-powered applications, AI embedded within applications, machine learning, and chatbots.
In fact, he says it’s been predicted that AI will drive 95% of all customer interactions come 2025. Of course, this is more on the B2C side, but we can expect this will happen over in our arena as well.
On that note, what will the B2B buying process look like?
In the past few years, B2C has really influenced the B2B world with the increasing importance bots play in the buying process.
However, humans still play a key role here. Sure, Mark suspects the research process may be replaced by technology, but humans are still essential in establishing trust between brands.
Of course technology will play a large role in maintaining your B2B relationships. You’ll keep in touch through social media and follow up via email. However, live events, trade shows, and conferences are still going to be essential.
“I think the benefits we get from them are very distinct,” Mark says. “I think when we tune into a webinar or a virtual event, it’s primarily information-gathering. When we go to a live event, I think there’s definitely an information-gathering element, but I think so much of that is building relationships, building trust, having a human connection with individuals…”
What about this whole privacy thing?
We as consumers and businesses have become increasingly alarmed about the use of our personal data by big tech and social media companies, and we’ve seen some government regulation around this, re: GDPR and the CCPA.
But, at the same time, we want personalization when it comes to marketing. How can we find the balance?
“I think what we will see is brands being forced by government regulation to really put more control in the hands of users,” Mark says. “What that’s going to do for vendors and suppliers is create a lot more complexity for managing platforms in the apps that deliver our content and manage our privacy.”
So what’s the landscape of B2B marketing going to look like come 2025? We can definitely expect some changes in terms of the role of marketing and what our jobs will look like, but at the end of the day: We’re going to play an increasingly important role at companies.
“We’re, as I said, more important to our organizations than ever before,” Mark summarizes. “That’s only going to continue increasing, and the pace of change driven by technology, driven by how people consume content, driven by the need to really be relevant… is only going to continue accelerating, so it’s going to be a fascinating ride.”