At FINITE, we can see first-hand how B2B technology and SaaS marketers are prepared for another year of ‘the new normal’; how they’ll respond to more uncertainty and new challenges with innovation in their strategies and campaigns, and with the tenacious enthusiasm of the past two years.
This report takes a pulse check on the current state of B2B tech marketing, and reveals what B2B tech marketers have in store for the rest of 2022: team structures, budgets, channels and challenges. It compares key stats to last year’s report to see how things are shifting and remaining steady.
The research and data below was gathered in December 2021 by surveying B2B tech marketers within our FINITE community. We’re glad to see it paints an optimistic picture, and hope it inspires B2B tech marketers for success in 2022.
Looking back: Reflections on B2B tech marketing in 2021
“80% of B2B tech companies were able to meet or outperform their marketing targets in 2021.”
Congratulations are in order for B2B tech marketers industry wide! The number of over-achievers has doubled since last year, when only 15.2% of B2B tech marketers outperformed their 2020 KPIs and objectives.
Perhaps this rise in success is owing to knowledge sharing within the industry, a wider understanding of marketing as a growth lever, more support from senior leadership or more MarTech available for niche targeting and measurement.
Whatever the reason, B2B tech marketers are thriving. We not only hope, but expect, that this success continues in 2022.
Which marketing channels grew the most in importance in 2021?
The top three channels that grew the most in 2021 reflect those that grew the most in 2020: Webinars (57%) SEO (39%) and Email (32%). Clearly, belief in the effectiveness of these channels remains strong, as marketers agree that events, SEO and email are the best way to reach and connect with a modern B2B tech audience.
Other rising channels are social media and PPC, both of which 31% of B2B tech marketers believed had grown the most in importance in 2021.
The rise of SEO as a B2B tech marketing channel:
"Given the ups-and-downs we experienced in 2021, it’s great to see that SEO is receiving greater recognition from our marketing peers. Though not as reactive as other channels, it has proven to be an effective, evergreen medium that can stay steady even in the most unsteady of times.
The B2B market can be a slower one to embrace digital change, so it’s encouraging to see an uptick in SEO’s perceived value, and it is an area of solid focus here at LSEG as senior leaders and wider teams have seen its worth and ROI effectiveness as a marketing channel.
As businesses face the financial knock-on from COVID, SEO must play a vital role in maximising ROI, streamlining spend and serving as a solid foundation for all marketing efforts. While SEO can be a long-term play, planting the seeds early and sharing SEO success will only continue to show it’s a worthwhile investment.
Having SEO present and optimised in an omnichannel mix can only provide better results, I would expect to see this 40% grow as we move into 2022 and B2B marketers continue to see SEO for all its worth."
Looking ahead: How B2B tech marketers feel about 2022
“71% of B2B tech marketers have an optimistic outlook going into 2022.”
With only one respondent marking themselves as pessimistic, B2B tech marketers are generally feeling positive about their strategies and goals for 2022.
Is this optimistic outlook the effect of a successful 2021? Other potential causal factors include increased budget and increased support from senior leadership. We found that a significant 83% of those who are optimistic about 2022 believe that board and senior leadership representation for marketing is increasing in their organisation!
Those who feel optimistic about 2022 give credit to:
- “Opportunity for growth and adopting a test and learn methodology to build on current results.”
- “Budget approval, momentum, return of in person events.”
- “More emphasis on community, brand, and long term growth.”
- “A renewed focus on marketing as sales enablers.”
Those who feel neutral state that:
- “We’ll be operating on a leaner budget with less investment in 'top of funnel' brand awareness type activities.”
- “Innovation is difficult in a global corporate environment.”
- “The pandemic has shown us a rollercoaster in our customer's spend. They frequently pivoted business strategy based on their consumer's activity. It is too optimistic to assume all learnings from 2021 will be a blueprint for pandemic 2022.”
“Over three quarters of B2B tech marketers state that support and understanding for marketing at board or senior leadership level is increasing in their organisation.”
For those organisations where support is increasing...
- “Underinvestment from previous years is starting to show.”
- “More data, more visibility.”
- "We've made an effort to get other folks/teams in the organisation involved and feel invested in the marketing strategy."
- "More higher profile ‘obvious’ tactics caught their attention, ironically lower ROI. Eg media coverage and partnership events."
For organisations where support for marketing is decreasing…
- “There is reluctance to understand pivoting and feel more secure in the safety net of old ways.”
- “More focus on sales after pivot.”
Where support is not changing, marketers give credit to existing support…
- “The understanding has always been quite high.”
- “They're pretty involved already.”
- “There is already a lot of awareness and support so we are in a good place already.”
Are B2B tech marketing budgets rising or falling in 2022?
“64% of B2B marketing budgets have increased in 2022, up from 35% in 2021.”
In a significant jump from last year, B2B tech marketers have secured more budget for 2022! It seems that increasing support from senior leadership and the success of 2021 strategies go hand-in-hand to ensure B2B tech marketers have more budget to play with in 2022.
"More than half of B2B tech marketers cannot measure the impact of marketing on revenue."
48% of B2B tech marketers are actively working on measuring their impact on revenue!
Despite the difficulty of this task, FINITE members agree that attribution is essential, not only for gaining internal support for marketing, but for guiding strategies, testing campaigns and knowing which moves to make next.
Custom attribution models, tracking tools and platforms offer a solution, but implementation and training could be key.
"Marketing teams in 2022 should prioritise being able to attribute their work to revenue. From our experience the most successful marketers are the ones that can prove, with data, their contribution to their companies revenue growth.
It's great to see a majority of B2B tech marketers, who can't measure their impact on revenue, actively working on this in 2022."
MarTech usage in 2022
“Only 2% of B2B tech marketers are cutting back on their use of marketing technology in 2022, and 63% are looking to increase their use.”
The number of B2B tech marketers looking to invest in more MarTech remains steady, with only a 2% drop from 2021.
With increasing marketing budgets and support from leadership, it’s clear that B2B tech marketers need new and innovative tools to supplement their strategies.
“As the MarTech landscape has matured, it has become so vast that it’s now hard to spot the vendors that can truly add value to the team.
That said, as the marketing team and the demands of our function scale here at Leapsome, we’re constantly looking to leverage the right tools to enhance our processes and, ultimately, achieve more with less. Inevitably, our investment in our marketing stack continues to grow.”
B2B tech marketing team structures in 2022
“In 2022, 43% of B2B tech marketing teams will sit together with sales in a revenue function.”
Team structures are always fluid in B2B tech, and at the moment, many organisations are opting for revenue-centric models that tackle sales and marketing contention.
Interestingly, we found that of those organisations where marketing and sales are separate teams, 47% cite sales and marketing alignment as one of their biggest challenges, and those where marketing and sales sit under a revenue function, only 20% state sales and marketing alignment as one of their biggest challenges.
Furthermore, we found that of B2B tech marketing teams that have dedicated SDRs or BDRs, 94% were able to meet or outperform their targets in 2021! This certainly suggests that having dedicated sales reps to follow up with MQLs is key to marketing success.
Marketing tactics and channels in 2022
“74% of B2B tech organisations will invest more in brand marketing in 2022.”
It’s a frequent topic of debate within the FINITE community: how much to invest in brand and at what stage in a B2B tech company? In 2022, we’ll certainly be discussing it more.
Overlapping products and crowded categories mean B2B buyers opt for brands who’ve built familiarity and trust, so B2B tech companies with strong brand will cement themselves as leaders amongst competition.
It's great to see the importance of brand marketing permeating B2B tech!
"Almost three-quarters of respondents indicated that they will be investing more in brand marketing, and I’m not surprised for two reasons.
First, B2B buyers want to progress through the majority of the buyer journey (upwards of 70% or more) on their own before they engage with a vendor’s sales team. This means we need to provide high-quality brand content that both informs and inspires. The brand becomes more than just identity or image (although that is important to get prospective buyers to begin the journey); it is necessary that the brand messaging builds credibility, confidence, and provides thought leadership to buyers through their journey.
Second, B2B buyers consume 10 or more channels of communication to interact with suppliers (what some call omnichannel sales). Across these channels, having a strong and consistent brand message is vital to building the relationship with prospective customers. Yes, we need a strong brand message to attract potential clients at the top of the funnel, but we also need strong brand assets to guide and equip that prospect through every interaction until they reach the point of sales engagement."
“Over half of B2B tech marketers are definitely doing ABM in 2022, and a quarter are considering it.”
In 2021, account-based marketing surged as a B2B tech marketing strategy, and for good reason! ABM sees results.
We’re pleased to see most of our community giving it a go in 2022, and hope to offer support to those embarking on a pilot or considering it as a strategy.
"It’s refreshing to see so many companies moving towards incorporating ABM into their marketing plan. It’s been a big focus for Doddle over the past couple of years with great impact.
In marketing, we’ve been tailoring our message to audience for a while. ABM takes that one step further, and targets decision makers within a high value account. Instead of creating content that appeals to the masses, you can create personalised content that talks directly to the decision makers you want to convert. For a company like ours, with a small, high value audience, ABM has been invaluable.
What’s also been great about ABM is how it’s brought the sales and marketing teams together. Often there’s friction between the two teams in the B2B world but working together to identify target accounts, develop a strategy to target these accounts and keeping track of progress means you have to work together. And a good working relationship with your sales team just makes marketing a lot more effective."
“45% of B2B tech marketers will be doing virtual and face-to-face events in 2022, but not hybrid.”
Last year, 65% of B2B tech marketers claimed digital events will still be a part of their marketing strategy even if physical events return in 2021. According to this year’s results on event marketing, this statement holds true, with only 9% opting for a fully face-to-face event calendar.
According to comments from respondents, those who are keeping their virtual and face-to-face events separate cite complexity and cost as main challenges:
- "There is a clear internal preference towards one or the other. See little value to the end customer of hybrid events but a lot of operational cost for the organiser."
- "The mix is a problem. When it's hybrid, the focus goes to the in-person and it doesn't make sense to invest in virtual under these circumstances."
- "Hybrid often comes with trade offs that are too big for us personally."
For those who are opting for face-to-face events only:
- "It is still the way to do business. Talking to people in person and shaking hands is always worth more than talking virtually."
- "Because we finally have that opportunity and the virtual events do not perform half as well as the virtual ones."
- "We find providing food and casual conversation creates a more engaging atmosphere."
And for those dipping their toes into hybrid:
- "Covid has made hybrid and virtual events a real option and blended will be the approach especially when focusing on different segments."
- "Continuing and varying restrictions around the world require a flexible approach
Covid 19 still impacting face to face attendance. F2F events will be small and personalised."
- "People are less likely to travel long distances for our events, but we don't want them to miss out."
"Throughout the pandemic, and a lot of uncertainty, hybrid events were the logical move to keep momentum on events in 2021, but as for 2022, I predict hybrid events will be on a minimum scale.
Hybrid events tend to translate to double-the-work, since you'll need to assign part of the team to be exclusively online, and the other part to the venue. They are relatively high risk, as they require a lot of resources, which might not pay off when ROI isn't met.
At Affise this year, we will participate in offline conferences, and will focus on partnering for online events with other networks, influencers and brands etc."
“63% of B2B tech marketers will focus on acquisition in 2022, while only 10% will focus on retention.”
Growth, growth, growth! Acquiring net new customers is a top priority for B2B tech marketers this year, with a mere 10% focusing more on retention than acquisition.
Let’s not underestimate the importance of customer marketing and retention, which can keep your revenue stream steady, especially in subscription models where repurchase decisions are required annually, or sometimes monthly.
"Whilst both retention and acquisition are important for sustainability, the value of acquisition for long term growth is becoming increasingly important. Whether your business is new to the market or if you are a leader currently saturating the growth potential of your existing customers, the tools and processes available to grow your market can bring results for those who focus on acquisition."
Challenges for B2B tech marketing in 2022
“Only 8% of B2B tech marketers believe Google’s phase out of third-party cookies will have zero impact on their marketing.”
Google's phase out of third-party cookies is a cause for concern for the majority of B2B tech marketers, whether a big or small one.
Going forward, B2B tech marketers might have to employ new tools and pay more attention to their first-party cookies if they want to track who their website visitors are.
Given that the majority of B2B tech marketers cannot currently measure the impact of marketing on revenue, it’s not surprising that ‘attribution and tracking ROI’ was the most common challenge in 2022.
It’s pleasing to see that B2B tech marketers are recognising the importance of attribution, and admitting their shortcomings to tackle the challenge head on.
Considering 74% of B2B tech organisations will invest more in brand marketing in 2022, it’s no wonder the second most common challenge is ‘building a strong brand'.
The ambiguity of identity and impression mean brand marketing itself can be difficult to attribute and measure, so it will be interesting to see how these challenges overlap and get solved together.
Sales and marketing alignment is once again a challenge for B2B tech marketers. As mentioned earlier in the report, perhaps a team restructuring could aid this. Generally, communication, collaboration and a healthy culture is critical.
The two remaining challenges are 'digital fatigue' and 'balancing quality and quantity', as B2B tech marketers will have to cut through the noise this year, and divide their limited time and resources carefully.
"The findings from FINITE's B2B marketing trends report seem to follow a pattern - more budget and responsibility to be granted to marketing teams to tackle the increasing expectations from buyers with ever increasing choices. But with the rise in budget comes additional responsibility to spend wisely and track impact. Hence the finding that ‘attribution and tracking ROI was cited as the biggest challenge for B2B tech marketers in 2022’ is not too much of a surprise.
I believe that B2B marketing teams that speak the language of hypothesis testing (since there are far too many variables along a B2B pipeline to do simple A/B testing), rapid experimentation and causality (what really affected bottom line revenue WoW and MoM?) will be the most likely to succeed this year and beyond."