B2B marketing budgets are recovering from their pandemic low -- they will total $53.7 billion this year, up from $34.6. billion in 2020 and $42.7 billion in 2021, according to Outlook for B2B Marketing: A Market In Transformation, a study released Monday by Winterberry Group.
Of the 2023 spend, $20.4 billion will go to online media.
And looking forward, the study projects an estimated total budgeting of $69.3 billion in 2026, $26.9 of which will be allocated for online.
But B2B brands are facing many challenges as they ramp up their marketing:
The relatively low ranking of AI as a challenge does not mean B2B marketers lack interest in the subject. On the contrary, the study argues that the execution of content and creative will be transformed by AI.
“How content is planned, created, briefed and executed will be where investments in conversational AI are going to enable cost effective “content at scale and speed,” it says. “Creative, however, is more likely to be impacted by machine learning, with the ability to provide creative intelligence, versioning, and optimization- though not the ‘creative idea.’”
On the tactical level, social media marketing is more popular in the U.S. than in Europe — 59% use it in the U.S., versus 43% in Europe. In contrast, 53% of European firms conduct email marketing, compared to 48% in the U.S.
This reflects the historical shift in B2B marketing. From 2000-2015, B2B was “primarily sales driven, supported by direct mail, email and in-person experiential/events,” the study states.
And today? “Consumerization of B2B accelerates as marketers leverage hybrid models for media consumption, experiences and buying. AI driven approaches transform sales & marketing.”
Meanwhile, search engine marketing is utilized by 56% in the U.S. and by 59% in Europe.
On a positive note, 99% claim their sales and marketing departments are aligned, with 56% saying they are mostly aligned, 29% saying they are fully aligned and 14% saying somewhat. But hurdles remain even here:
Winterberry surveyed 204 marketers across the U.S., France, Germany and the UK in 2023 and conducted two dozen interviews between February and March 2023.