In times of stagnating marketing budgets, it is more important than ever to effectively reach your target group. In 2023, a handful of trends appeared on the scene which have become more relevant for many advertisers. Surprisingly, AI is not one of the top trends. Find out more here.
B2B marketing in 2023: the budgets remained stable
The German economy is toppling, and companies are battling with high costs in many areas of operation. Expenditure for marketing activities is frequently the first to be cut. According to the bvik survey “B2B-Marketing-Budgets 2023” (German), however, the marketing budgets for 2023 have remained stable on a whole – and no major cuts are to be feared in 2024 either. Yet, as the experts surveyed said, the development regarding budgets is closely linked to the economic situation of a company and the industry.
These results and other surveys of marketing decision-makers have led to various trend findings and key learnings which show what was particularly relevant in 2023, for marketing in general and for B2B marketing specifically.
Lead generation over brand awareness
There is nothing wrong with brand awareness – but in times of economic turbulence, performance is clearly top priority for many B2B companies. Marketing measures should result in leads – which was more relevant than ever in 2023. The marketing agency eMinded already came to this exact finding back in late 2022: their survey (German) showed that nearly 77 per cent of those questioned saw lead generation as their main goal for the year 2023. One year before, brand awareness was important for just under 60 per cent of marketing decision-makers – and this value decreased to 33 per cent for the outlook towards 2023.
Data-driven marketing with transparent and ongoing performance monitoring, and the subsequent campaign adaptation, was the focus of many advertisers. Either through honed, target-group-specific content or wide-reaching options for automation that relieve the burden on internal resources at the same time.
The methods used to gain valuable insights into increasing volumes of data are getting better and better. The investment in the generation of qualified customer data will continue to grow, as the most promising sales potential can be identified in this way. Around 78 per cent of the participants of the bvik survey believe that data-driven marketing will be a decisive factor of success for B2B within the next three years.
Trade shows for B2B slowly reaching the pre-Covid level
Will brick-and-mortar trade shows ever become as significant again as they were before the Covid pandemic? Many marketers have asked themselves this question over the past two years – and now the answer seems clear: trade shows and live events are once again a focus of B2B companies’ budgets. Digital versions are being offered as well, but purely digital trade shows or hybrid trade show formats have had their day. A total of 76 per cent of the B2B marketing budget which was planned for trade shows in 2023 shall be spent on offline events, in other words for appearing at events live in person, according to those questioned in the bvik survey.
Paid media as a standard within the marketing mix
While the aspiration to invest in special interest publications fell in 2023, the plans for paid media were stepped up, as the bvik survey showed. This includes search engine advertising (SEA) and paid social, as well as all activities of paid advertisements such as ads, banners, advertorials and similar. Particularly social media ads were adapted for the respective platforms, as these reach completely different target groups in some cases. Thanks to the diversity of individual platforms, nearly each company can find a potential buyer here or there.
Generally speaking, the significance of social media in the B2B segment continues to grow. According to the eMinded survey, LinkedIn is the strongest marketing channel for just under one-third of those questioned, followed by SEA (25 per cent), SEO (20 per cent) and email marketing (12 per cent).
AI a trend for the future
Even if the topic of artificial intelligence, and the opportunities it provides, is a hot topic everywhere, it played just a secondary role in the everyday business of marketing decision-makers in 2023. There was much talk about its potential, but little of this was seen in practice. The trend survey European Marketing Agenda 2022 from DMV did not have one single participant say that they want to build up the necessary competence in this area in 2023 or deal with AI as an acute field of action.
However, tools like ChatGPT are indeed being used by advertisers, for instance for translation services to prepare content for social media or to personalise content. The generation of new content by generative AI, however, is still in the trial phase.