By Colby Cavanaugh, SVP of Marketing at Integrate
2023 got off to a rocky start with widespread tech layoffs, tightened budgets, and bank failures. In fact, we started to see signs of an economic slowdown toward the middle of 2022 with rising interest rates and inflation. According to Integrate and Demand Metric’s research report on the “2022 State of B2B Marketing Budgets,” the study found that B2B marketers were expecting budget cuts and higher growth targets in 2023, and countering with shifts in strategies. And interestingly, despite the challenges, 80% of marketers expressed optimism for 2023.
Now, as we navigate 2023 after a tumultuous first quarter, we wondered if the headwinds that buffeted marketing last year eased or persisted. How are B2B marketers adapting to these shifts? What areas of marketing and strategies are they investing their efforts? And do marketers still feel generally optimistic?
To answer these questions, the team at Integrate again partnered with Demand Metric to conduct a follow-on study on “The State of B2B Marketing Budgets 2023” surveying 500+ B2B marketers around the world. We found that marketers are facing the challenges of “defending the spend.” They’re being told to do more with less, and experiencing burnout as they are increasingly expected to achieve impossible growth targets. Yet despite the burnout and current stresses marketers are experiencing, marketers increasingly expressed optimism for the remainder of 2023.
Here are additional insights from Integrate and Demand Metric’s “2023 B2B Marketing Budget survey.”
The Biggest Challenge: Using Data to Inform Decisions and Measure Performance
The report found that nearly 50% of B2B marketers cite the difficulty of using data to inform decisions and measure performance as the biggest challenge, suggesting an increasing need for marketers to “defend the spend” to finance departments and C-level executives. As a result, nearly 90% of marketers surveyed report that data compliance and accuracy is a priority at their company.
As my colleague, Chief Product Officer at Integrate, Aaron Mahimainathan said, “Good data is at the core of good marketing and in turn, good marketing measurement.” Without clean, compliant data, you’re not only at risk of not being able to reach your buyers and defend your spend, but you’re also at risk of violating privacy regulations and incurring hefty fines.
Economic Stressors Are Causing Burnout in B2B Marketers
The next biggest challenges the survey found include headcount cuts (40%), increasing growth targets (39%), and budget cuts (38%). These economic stressors are contributing to feelings of burnout with a whopping 66% of respondents definitively reporting that they are experiencing burnout.
B2B Marketers Remain Optimistic About the Future
Interestingly, despite these challenges, 72% say their marketing team will meet or exceed goals in 2023. This suggests thatmarketers are working hard to compensate for reduced resources and meeting goals, but carrying the extra burden is taking its toll on mental health.
Meanwhile, 84% of marketers surveyed report having a neutral to optimistic outlook for the remainder of 2023, up slightly as compared to 80% six months ago. These data suggest that B2B marketers remain resilient. They’re forging ahead and adapting quickly to the changing landscape.
B2B Marketers Focus on the Customer
To adapt, a majority (57%) of B2B marketers plan to grow by leveraging existing customer relationships. They’re sticking to the tried-and-true tactics of upselling and cross-selling amidst an uncertain market. And customer marketing is the top area of investment for 2023 overall.
According to the survey, buyer-driven, cross-channel campaigns are the most favored strategic approach, ahead of inbound/always-on, traditional demand generation, and ABM/ABX.
Today’s B2B marketers are overworked but optimistic. They’re finding solid footing in focusing their efforts on being customer centric. But they’re in the greatest need of accurate and connected data to better understand their buyer, guide their decisions, and defend their spend in difficult times. It’s time to invest in better data and adopting a buyer-driven, cross-channel approach.
Colby Cavanaugh is the SVP of Marketing at Integrate, an enterprise marketing software and solutions provider. He has also held global leadership roles at Campaign Monitor, Return Path, Salesforce, ExactTarget and WebTrends. Cavanaugh holds an MBA from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Central Washington University.