The Squeeze: Preparing B2B Marketing budgets for 2023
Dissecting the very short lives of the B2B marketing budgets in 2022 will not take long.
Q1 2022 - Spend, spend, spend. Hire, hire, hire
Q2 2022 - Ukraine war and crazy inflation means reality shocks the world, some marketing budgets tightened
Q3-4 2022 - The Marketers' Awakening - World (AKA company CEOs) enter a changed reality, many adjust marketing budgets and expectations for marketing and sales. Marketers need to show their contributions to the bottom line.
2023 - Marketing Attribution is key, but ever increasingly challenging in a cookieless, dark funnel world.
2023: The B2B marketing stakes are high
2023 will be the year of attribution. As people feel the economic crunches there are many factors that have to be taken into account when planning your 2023 budget; the pressure is rising for marketing teams to drive results and show ROI.
B2B Marketing budgets have always been a struggle to justify. And this hasn't become any easier with the dark funnel taking the foreground. Marketers are grappling with a cookieless world - where it is extremely difficult to say where a contact came from, paid media or social or something else. Not only that but the number of touchpoints (one article recently reported 21) needed before a lead is ready to be contacted has almost doubled recently.
With channel attribution becoming increasingly difficult, a new model needs to be found, one based on correlation in place of direct attribution. When paid media is running, do you see a lift in direct, organic and social traffic? If you've kicked off new videos on social, have brand searches increased?
There is greater scrutiny and higher expectations following years of investment AND it’s now or never, Marketers will need to show the impact created by the 2020-2022 marketing goodness or next year will be a S**T show.
Times of change are always stressful, but we have 6 solid suggestions for you to help you rise to the B2B marketing occasion in 2023:
1. Events - Embrace the Hybrid
Let's face it in person event are back on, but travelling is expensive and are they showing ROI (Is that $100k worth it?). So what can we do? Engage in the face to face, but only where there is real value to be gained, don't go just for the sake of going. AND save a significant share for online events (especially as it's only become pricier in the last few years).
When doing an online event, do it well. Having a rock star speaker is no longer enough. Webinar fatigue is rising. You need to understand your customer's pain point, have good speakers and get creative to make the webinar more interactive (think gamification, questions and fun). And remember done is not done. Record your webinar and market the on-demand version.
2. Invest only in MarTech that brings value
There are well over 9000 MarTech products out there.
But before you invest in MarTech STOP. Think. Why are you investing?
Is it going to streamline your processes? Is it going to make you a better communicator? Is it going to give you better insight? What pain point is it going to solve?
For example if you implement HubSpot you'll find it easier to gain insights into your funnel and streamline contact flow from marketing to sales to customer service.
And if you use AnyWord you could increase your content performance, generate new ideas and speed up the writing process.,
There are 2 types of technologies - strategic and technical.
Strategic tools like HubSpot need bigger buy-in and are a major investment.
Technical tools are often lower budget investments e.g. AnyWord, Otter.ai, Grammarly etc.. You should be testing these frequently to see if they solve a pain point for you.
3. Master marketing operations
By mastering marketing operations in 2023 you will have the tools you need to show that ROI, to show that lift in traffic, contacts, SQLs from your marketing efforts. You will be able to prepare dashboards clearly displaying impact even if direct attribution is limited. You will be able to come to those crucial reporting sessions prepared with stats, data and clear graphs.
There’s no point in doing fantastic marketing if you can't clearly demonstrate your success in a succinct and clear manner. Remember - before you kick off any reporting activity, decide on the goal and build a report to help you reflect that.
4. Find the channels that work for you
Use your marketing budget to experiment and find the channels that work for your brand. Look beyond PPC to pull folks to your website, create more meaningful content that explains your product and addresses the different phases of the marketing funnel; ramp up your branding and awareness spend. Creating videos takes time and patience to experiment.
Importantly -- spend more money on content distribution than on producing it.
Regardless of which channels you test it's getting more difficult to know what works for you, so try different cocktails of channels as much as possible and look for the correlations between traffic, contact and MQL lift.
5. Awareness, Awareness, Awareness
2-3 years ago if you weren't using eBooks in your marketing, it was likely to sink. Nowadays if you're relying on gated eBooks as a cornerstone of your marketing, you're not going to get anywhere.
In 2023 it's about demand generation, not gating off content. Share value, unique quality content for free. Think videos, think long form useful (and we really mean useful) content, think calculators. Raise awareness so that when people finally do get in contact, they're ready to learn more.
6. Get curious & test like it’s 2021
Marketers need to be testing constantly.
Your marketing budget should include 20-40% for testing new channels, new mediums, new tools, new employees and agencies. Use 60-80% of budget on channels you know work and use the remaining budget for experiments and testing out new channels.
Set yourself KPIs. What would you ideally like to achieve from the test and what will it demand from you. When done, evaluate if the test brought value to you.
Don’t buckle under the marketing pressure
Marketers are always under the microscope, but now we're in a marketing awakening. In 2023, you need to prove they know how to put a killer budget together, raise awareness and show the ROI, despite the economic tightening, dark funnel and attribution challenges. 2023 could be your year to shine, or your year to go to the back of the line. Go for it!
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