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ActivateMarketingCharts COVID 19 Impact B2B Demand Gen Sept2020Despite the impact of COVID-19, budgets for demand generation are holding up more than B2B marketing as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) B2B marketers say that they expect their budgets for demand generation to decrease, whereas 3 in 10 (31%) say their overall marketing budgets will fall. These figures come from Activate’s latest annual State of Demand Generation Report [download page], which has been produced in partnership with MarketingCharts.

The report is based on a survey of more than 180 B2B tech marketing and demand gen decision-makers and influencers, with 120 responses being qualified and used in the analysis. Here are a few key highlights.

Demand Gen Activity Increases During the Pandemic

Despite the pressures that businesses have been under, B2B marketers have largely looked to keep up – if not expand – their level of activity in pipeline generation. In fact, more than half of respondents have either significantly (19%) or somewhat (36%) increased their demand generation activities since the outbreak of COVID-19. This is more than double the share (24%) who have either significantly (5%) or somewhat (19%) reduced their demand gen activity since the outbreak.

Shifting budgets emerge as a predominant reason for increased demand gen activity since COVID-19. Some 59% of those who have increased their demand gen activity cite reallocated budget from events as one of their primary reasons behind the increase, while 34% have increased their activities due to reallocated budget from other activities.

But keeping an eye on the bottom line is a major motivating factor. Around two-fifths (42%) say that one of the primary reasons behind their increase in demand gen activity is a need to fill a fall in pipeline. Close to one-third say that strong ROI is also a key factor.

B2B Professionals Expect Online Events and Webcasts to See Strong Growth

It wasn’t too long ago that live events were considered the most successful demand generation tactic, but since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of events is expected to change, with online events becoming a viable solution. This is reflected in the Activate survey which found online events (e.g. webcasts) at the top of the list of tactics respondents expect to increase the most in the coming 12 months.

A related and interesting finding was that only one-third (33%) believe that event marketing budgets will return to normal once the pandemic is over. Given that the virus shows no sign of abating, the shift to online events is likely to be long-lasting.

Also high on the list of channels and tactics demand gen professionals plan to increase in the next year are account-based marketing programs, high-quality lead programs (late-funnel, HQL/SRL), inbound marketing on their corporate website, and email marketing.

Regular Communication with Sales Remains a Key Strategy

In the constant quest to establish better alignment between sales and marketing, respondents were asked what single strategy they find to be most effective in optimizing their relationship with sales. The largest share (29%) indicate that a regular cadence of communications, as well as a steady flow of leads to sales, is most effective.

However, although communication may be the most effective strategy in maintaining a good relationship with sales, it’s a challenge that is not going away. Research from InsideView shows that nearly half of the marketers they surveyed found communication to be one of the biggest challenges to aligning sales and marketing.

Regarding marketing and sales alignment, respondents also pointed to the importance of the delivery of highly qualified leads, while fewer said that developing tools that help sales start conversations with prospects was most important.

Want to read more? The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 120 B2B tech marketing and demand gen decision-makers and influencers.

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