Believe it or not, we're almost six months into 2017.

As we look ahead to our marketing plans for the last two quarters of the year, you're probably starting to think about:

  • Holiday messaging (yep... that time of year will be here before you know it).
  • How to meet your marketing goals while still taking time for summer roadtrips and staycations.
  • The technologies and trends that will impact the latter half of the year.

To give us his thoughts on the most up-to-the-minute marketing and consumer trends, I talked to one of my favorite CMOs: Jeffrey K. Rohrs, Chief Marketing Officer of Yext and the author of Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers. Jeff is truly a trailblazing CMO, always finding new paths to reach audiences and champion the customer experience.

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast  —  the marketing podcast from Salesforce  —  we talked to Jeff about how search is changing with new automation tools, why you need to get more granular with the data you offer, and how marketing can help build an authentic culture that also boosts your brand.

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You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are 5 marketing trends to watch in the latter half of this year, according to Jeff and what he sees from his CMO seat.


1. As Data Plans Go Unlimited, iPhone's Impact Grows


The iPhone is just about ten years old, but marketers have only recently started to see its full impact on how customers interact with brands. As Jeff puts it, “iPhones are ubiquitous — they change our lives,” but mobile's impact on search has continued to reverberate, as data plans expand from limited to limitless and people get even more glued to their iPhones no matter where they go.

I know as I walk around airports, doctor's offices, and even sidewalks, it seems like every single person has their eyeballs keenly attuned to their phones nowadays.

On a mobile device, the interface and the form factor are different — so how consumers interact with their search results is different. For example, think about Siri: if you ask it a question, it gives you an answer, but not a link.

This isn’t just about local search, it’s about making sure you’re ready for the next wave of AI and search, where customers don't even type keywords into Google.


2. Hey, Siri: Customers Rely on AI and Granular Search 


If you start thinking about the world of AI, digital assistants, and even self-driving cars, you realize that you as a marketer need to start thinking how you can provide data that is more granular and search-friendly. Google recently reported that 70% of searches for hotel rooms included additional granular info.

As Jeff explains: “I’m not just searching for ‘hotels near me,’ I’m searching for ‘pet-friendly hotels near me’ or ‘hotels near me with jacuzzis in the room.’” Adding these tidbits make it easier for you to show up on increasingly detailed searches. The question is, are you putting that information out there in a way that these services can access?

“This is also a marketing opportunity because, as consumers demand more granular knowledge, the companies that can provide it stand to attract more customers.”


3. B2B Branding Surpasses B2C's Personal Factor


“I’m a firm believer that B2B branding is a far more personal branding because folks are buying something and their job is on the line,” says Jeff. Compared to a consumer purchase, a business buying decision can have a huge impact on someone’s livelihood, career, and life.

Trust is vital because, as Jeff says, “the buyer wants to know who’s selling to them, they want to be able to pick up the phone and call them, and they want to feel that this is an organization they want to associate with.”

Expect to see B2B marketing rely more on personalized content and nurture journeys and ABM over the rest of the year.


4. Marketing and HR Become BFFs


So how do you create the level of trust you need? And what's the state of the brand in 2017?

Jeff wisely shares, “At its heart, a brand is about the people and the experiences that are created.” That means that you need to create a company culture that is unique, one that the buyer can get to know and trust. He continues, “You’re beginning to walk the line between marketing and the brand, and HR and the culture. I am a firm believer that marketing in a B2B organization plays a very strong hand-and-glove relationship with HR.”

Read more about why employee experience and company culture matter so much to marketing


5. Authenticity Is Amplified

The truth about your company and brand has never been something you can fake. But thanks to employer review sites like Glassdoor and product review sites that populate the buyer journey, every aspect of your company is even more transparent. Expect for that to be even more the case as customers and potential employees alike depend on these sites for critical decision-making information.

The paradoxical thing about culture is that you can’t create it simply by talking about it. It has to actually be authentic, which means, to Jeff, that “you’re not forcing culture upon people — you are amplifying the best parts of the culture that already exists.”

Here's an example of how to live out your company culture. At Yext, when they found out that the Global Day of the Engineer was in April, Jeff’s team realized that they had never recognized their engineers, even though they’re the folks who build the product. “I wanted our teams across the globe to know them better and celebrate them.” His marketing team took the engineering teams that already existed, which each had unique and quirky names, and created themed shirts and memorabilia to promote them. They also put together a global event where the CTO and COO brought those teams up and recognized them.

As Jeff puts it, “You can’t just sit back and let the culture happen. You have to see what’s best about it and amplify it.”

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Jeff (@jkrohrs). Get the complete scoop on B2B content marketing in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.