Two reports, which Just Global partnered on with B2B Marketing and Bombora, bookend 2023, and reveal a host of fascinating market trends. We explore how these results can help marketers make better-informed decisions, as well as highlighting the challenges they might face over the coming months.
Market Trends Takeaways
Marketing change is key
Marketers have had to adapt to a world where they need to focus on everything from awareness to consideration, to purchase, to advocacy and beyond. This full-funnel approach requires marketers to prove at each step of the funnel how and where they’re spending their budget and show results for each dollar spent. In other words, marketers are now responsible for brand, demand, and everything in between.
As many organizations undergo complex institutional change, building customer affinity and trust has never been as important as it is now. Given 66% of B2B buyers say the amount of change in their organization is overwhelming, vendors have their work cut out to support binding the decision-making unit through the buyer journey.
Keeping recession at bay
There were jitters across markets at the start of 2023, as a global recession loomed, with marketers being forced to do more with less, as budgets were squeezed. To ascertain how this would affect the decision-making process, we partnered with B2B Marketing to produce an extensive piece of research: ‘Pipeline’s secret weapon: full-funnel marketing’. Over 200 B2B marketers were surveyed, and the results gave a fascinating insight into the issues they were grappling with at the time. We discovered that half of B2B marketers were spending 70% or more of their budget on demand gen activity, while acknowledging the importance of full funnel marketing and long-term revenue growth, their mindset was doggedly set on short-term gains.
Fast forward to the closing months of 2023, when the results of the Just Global and Bombora report: ‘The State of B2B Marketing’ were published, and we find traditional disciplines like Search & Retargeting, and Demand Generation were the second to last and last categories researched by enterprise companies. Could this mean that over the course of the last 12 months marketers have rejected the short-term gains that a focus on demand gen activity delivers, and adopted a more strategic, full-funnel approach?
A maturing market
Customer Experience, Branding & Loyalty, and Programmatic all grew in search popularity according to the report with Bombora, which indicates a sign of maturity within B2B marketers. B2B buying is slow and complex, and with large deals typically coming around on a five-year sales cycle, this means that only 20% are in-market across the year, and 5% a quarter. Therefore, marketers are investing more in retaining customers, building loyalty, and leveraging intelligence to engage prospects and customers efficiently. In 2023, marketers learnt how to show the connection between brand, demand, and revenue growth that full-funnel marketing both demonstrates and delivers upon.
The unstoppable growth of AI
The most significant development in the market this year has been the growth and adoption of Generative AI and AI. It should come as no surprise that Emerging Trends was the most popular category of research across the board, which mirrors the phenomenal rise of AI this year. By the end of the year, AI’s applicability across a range of uses, from speeding up ad and content creation with Generative AI to AI in sales, was evident in the data.
AI-related topics also led the top 25 topics according to the Bombora report, as they are key to helping marketers operationalize both sales and marketing efforts. Generative AI in sales, AI Notetaker, Generative Design and AI Content Generation all featured heavily, indicating that marketers are keen to embed AI into their way of working.
Gartner predicts that by the end of 2024, the use of synthetic data created with Generative AI will reduce the volume of real data needed for machine learning by 50%. And in 2025 they estimate that 30% of outbound marketing messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated. It seems almost certain that their prediction will be borne out by the findings in the Bombora report, as AI looks set to continue its meteoric rise – playing a necessary and invaluable part in every marketer’s GTM (Go-To-Market) planning and strategy.
Long-term strategy replaces short-term thinking
The indicators also show that there’s been a shift from short-term thinking, designed to capture quick wins, to a more concerted effort to cement long-term business goals, with an eye on nurturing accounts throughout the buying cycle. Bombora reveals that nearly 50% of organizations are undertaking early-stage research vs 23% undertaking in-depth research across multiple topics (more than 25), which indicates that there’s a sizeable audience looking to fine-tune their organization’s GTM planning efforts in 2024.
When we look at what the industry considered important at the start of 2023, we see both a recognition and acknowledgement of how important brand is in driving long-term revenue growth. But when it comes to investment across the entire funnel, there was a hesitancy in moving away from a demand gen mindset. The results from the Bombora report would indicate that marketers have indeed embraced the importance of driving pipeline and revenue growth.
Putting the customer first
This change in tack is supported by the fact that by the close of 2023 media and internet companies were placing a renewed focus on customer centricity, with active research into Customer Experience, in addition to Programmatic & Display strategies. By placing the customer front and center of everything an organization does, across multiple touchpoints, brand loyalty will increase, and because of that, sales.
Making informed decisions
With complex purchasing cycles, and the need to get buy-in from board level, marketers need to ensure they’re not neglecting any stage of the funnel, as this is a sure way to develop and increase their sales pipeline. Armed with the latest research, stats and information will allow marketers to make better informed decisions. Just Global’s goal is to help simplify that process, which is why we’ve produced both these reports in association with B2B Marketing and Bombora.