Customer Marketing Is A Key Priority for B2B Marketers This Year

May 22, 2023

Almost 7 in 10 B2B marketers in the US and UK report having either met (45%) or exceeded (24%) their growth targets over the past 6 months, with marketers in the US reporting more success (72%) than those in the UK (65%), according to a report [download page] from Integrate and Demand Metric.

Despite that, respondents to the survey indicate that increasing and/or impossible growth targets are one of the biggest challenges they’re facing in marketing right now. Faced with that critical challenge, B2B marketers are turning to a variety of areas to optimize for growth, though none to as great an extent as customer marketing/upselling/cross-selling.

Indeed, 57% of respondents said that customer marketing is an area they will be optimizing for growth this year, making it the leading option. This strategy is even more keenly pursued in the US, where 62% of respondents said they will be optimizing it for growth. The result calls to mind recent research in which CMOs in North America said that customer marketing professionals were atop their list of current and future hires.

Notably, although respondents in the US are more likely to be optimizing customer marketing for growth than their counterparts in the UK, the latter group appears to be giving it more budget priority this year. As it stands, B2B marketers in the UK point to customer marketing as their top area targeted for more spending. In the US, marketing ops/technology has that distinction, though customer marketing is second.

Likewise, within the US customer marketing is the second-highest area of investment – behind content creation/strategy – while in the UK it’s the top area for investment this year.

Overall, despite the challenges of meeting difficult targets, B2B marketers have a sunny outlook. Two-thirds are “very satisfied” (21%) or “satisfied” (46%) with the results they’re getting from their current marketing approach, including 71% in the US. Additionally, 72% believe it “very likely” (28%) or “likely” (44%) that their team will meet or exceed the goals set for it this year, with respondents in the US particularly confident (78%). Finally, almost 7 in 10 are either “very optimistic” (26%) or “optimistic” (43%) compared to 6 months ago regarding their marketing team and its performance, and those in the US are once again the more optimistic (74%).

Other Survey Highlights:

  • The biggest challenge faced by B2B marketers in both the US and UK is difficulty using data.
  • Beyond customer marketing, respondents will also be relying on building team skills/new competencies and optimizing existing verticals or markets for growth.
  • Roughly the same share of marketers report lower (37%) as higher (39%) marketing budgets in 2023 compared to 2022. Those in the US are more likely to say their budget has increased (45%) than decreased (31%) relative to last year.
  • The biggest driver of marketing budget changes across the sample is economic recession. While for UK marketers inflation is the second-biggest driver, US respondents point instead to competitive forces.
  • Two of US marketers’ biggest priorities – content creation/strategy and customer marketing – are also the functional areas most negatively affected by budget/hiring freezes. UK marketers say that marketing ops/technology is the area most negatively affected for them.
  • Some 64% of respondents say that their current martech stack supports the marketing team’s work “very well” (24%) or “well” (40%). US respondents are more apt than their UK counterparts to say their stack supports the team’s work “very well” (28% vs. 19%), in line with a stream of research on this topic.
  • Slightly more than half of B2B marketers say that their martech stack includes solutions, tools, or technologies that are redundant or simply not used to a “great extent” (31%) or “very great extent” (21%), with this sentiment higher among UK (57%) than US (48%) marketers.
  • US respondents are more likely to say that their stack will grow through addition of new solutions (33%) than to grow smaller through consolidation/elimination (19%).

About the Data: The results are based on a March survey of 547 marketers at mostly B2B (53%) and both B2C and B2B (47%) companies in the US (56%) and UK (44%), across industries and company sizes.


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