B2B marketers shift focus to growth and CX. But how can they deliver?
Growing economic challenges are putting increasing pressure on CMOs to prioritise boosting revenue and optimising ROI. Could account-based marketing help relieve this burden, asks Claire Ellis, Managing Director at JPC?
The need to adapt to increasingly uncertain economic conditions is one of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketers right now. Driven by a series of global and domestic challenges – inflation, disrupted markets, broken supply chains and now the global banking crisis to name but a few – financial conditions have tightened almost everywhere over the past few months. As a result, global growth is forecast to slow from 3.2% in 2022 to just 2.7% in 2023 (IMF World Economic Report October 2022). Some commentators even believe this is more likely to be 1.8% (Goldman Sachs Macro Outlook 2023 This Cycle Is Different November 2022).
It’s not surprising, then, that the minds of Chief Marketing Officers are firmly trained on shorter-term commercial goals like growth and return on investment (ROI), according to a recent survey Digital Connections 2.0. These findings are backed up by a study published in November 2022 by Treasure Data, which revealed that 82% of marketers say there’s greater demand to prove ROI, with 39% feeling under significantly more pressure.
Marketers’ new aims and priorities
This has forced a major shift in thinking since the 2022 version of the Digital Connections study. Asked to name the impact they aim to deliver in their current role, CMOs’ most popular answer was growth – a key goal of 30% of those surveyed. Interestingly, this has tripled from just 10% a year ago. Next came delivering a better customer experience (21% up from 5%), closely followed by increasing marketing efficiency (19% up from 15%).
These findings were also reflected in marketers’ strategic priorities over the next 18 months. These were dominated by delivering a better customer experience, cited by 48% of respondents. Meanwhile, some 37% said generating both leads and sales were key.
Commentators suggest this refocus on the customer could point to a wider shift in B2B strategy, with vendors questioning product-led growth. Instead, they are building customer insights into their innovation process to inform product and service development, according to the report Seven Fallacies of Product Led Growth That B2B CMOs Must Address (Forrester, August 2022).
Of course, focusing on growth is one thing, delivering it is quite another. Especially when budgets are tightening, and gaining the best return on any marketing spend is vital to max out value. This can make it tempting to stick to the same old tactics, as they feel safe, as cited by ex BT and Ericsson Marketing specialist Lisa Daniels in our recent podcast. But those marketers who crack the code while also enhancing the customer experience – key to retaining as well as increasing business – will secure their company’s safe passage through the current turmoil. They’ll also be perfectly placed to accelerate growth and drive future success once the economic climate warms up.
Making it happen
In terms of value versus effectiveness, recent research has shown that one marketing technique is leading the way in B2B: account-based marketing (ABM). It was revealed as the number one priority in terms of spend for B2B marketers in the recent Elevating ABM survey, at a time when budget and value are at a premium. However, as it’s still a relatively new approach, many marketers are struggling to optimise its effectiveness.
Further research underlines this trend, and explains why ABM ticks the boxes for those marketers majoring on driving growth. Essentially, approached in the right way ABM is a growth engine. Over half of marketers (53%) agree that it generates more revenue than any other marketing technique, according to the recent State of ABM Report 2022.
This study also found that ABM delivers a 10% or more return on investment for 75% of marketers, 50% or more for a third of marketers, and 200% or more for 20%. This is supported by the Elevating ABM report, which found that 72% of marketers it surveyed said the technique produces a higher ROI than any other form of marketing.
So what’s the secret to success?
ABM’s forensic approach to identifying the key stakeholders of a target prospect, then engaging them in a highly personalised way using relevant, insightful, compelling content provides a human edge missing from a lot of B2B marketing. After educating stakeholders about your business and showing your knowledge and expertise, ABM is highly effective at guiding buyers along the customer journey.
But perhaps where many ABM programmes currently fall short is in seeing ABM purely as a growth engine at the front of the sales cycle. Recognising that it offers powerful opportunities not just up to purchase, but also in customer on-boarding, customer success and throughout the customer lifecycle through integrated account-based experiences is where ABM really starts to address the growth and CX challenge. It has been proven to directly help satisfy the 57% of B2B buyers that want insightful, personalised content served to them both before, during and after purchase, according to the recent Personalisation at Scale report.
That’s why 90% of respondents to the Elevating ABM report said ABM delivers active customer engagement, with 84% and 77% saying it generates pipeline growth and revenue growth respectively. And why the heady mix of improved growth, ROI and customer experience that ABM generates will help relieve the current burden on CMOs and their teams.
- Uncertain economic conditions mean CMOs have shifted their focus towards shorter-term commercial goals like growth and ROI.
- Delivering a better customer experience and increasing leads and sales head up CMO priorities for the next 18 months.
- Achieving these goals will secure their company’s safe passage through the current turmoil and accelerate future growth.
- In terms of value versus effectiveness in B2B, recent research has shown that ABM is leading the way.
- Over half of marketers (53%) agree that ABM generates more revenue than any other marketing technique, while 72% agree ABM produces a higher ROI.
- The mix of improved growth, ROI and customer experience that ABM generates will help relieve the current burden on CMOs.
Need to take the first steps towards designing your integrated ABM programme to improve the customer experience? Then please get in touch for a copy of our dedicated guide…
Digital Connections 2.0: Why CMOs are refocusing on the customer journey for 2023: https://storage.pardot.com/839103/1677851004AsRf5ecF/Digital_Connections_2.0_Report.pdf
Driving Marketing Efficiency with Connected Customer Data (Treasure Data): https://www.marketingcharts.com/business-of-marketing/roi-227920
Seven Fallacies of Product Led Growth That B2B CMOs Must Address – Forrester August 2022
Elevate ABM 2022 report
Personalisation at Scale
State of ABM report, October 2022
Personalisation at Scale, Adobe, January 2023