The famous Roman Stoic Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Ultimately, you need both to succeed. The same might be said to marketing leaders in 2023: prepare, prepare, prepare!
There is no way to predict how the macroeconomic climate is going to shift or how it will impact B2B SaaS marketing teams. But one thing is clear — marketing leaders have their work cut out for them to thrive in what is likely a challenging environment. Many best practices that previously worked will be challenged, and agility remains critical.
Based on Insight’s close partnership and expertise in helping companies scale, we’re tracking the emerging questions we believe will shape marketing strategies in the coming year:
- How should you change your digital marketing strategy?
- What role will customer marketing play?
- Events: In-person? Virtual? Hybrid?
- How can personalization and generative AI help?
- What can be done to keep the marketing function whole in the face of organizational restructuring?
Read on for the marketing strategies we think will make a meaningful impact this year.
Organic efforts can yield higher ROI
One of the most significant challenges B2B SaaS organizations will face is the increasing cost of demand generation. With buyers pushing decisions out, there is a need for more touches to drive leads through the buyer’s journey, and marketers will have to be creative in order to keep their costs low.
Additionally, social media is becoming increasingly difficult to use for targeting given the recent changes across the major platforms and increased scrutiny around privacy. Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok have all seen CPM (cost per thousand) increase significantly in 2022. Facebook, and parent company Meta, is particularly difficult since they’ve been at the center of numerous data-related scandals, while Twitter’s shifting focus and paid options have been difficult for marketers to navigate. Twitter’s Ad Manager volume and roster of advertisers both fell sharply in October and November 2022. LinkedIn remains a great platform for targeting, though limited inventory and expensive ad spaces are becoming more common.
Key Insight: Your ROI on investing in stronger organic will likely be higher than paid digital. Reallocate budget to content and SEO.
Invest in customer marketing
As businesses started to experience a slowdown in new business ARR in 2022, customer retention and expansion became critical. Across the Insight portfolio, we saw our companies experience a 4% increase in expansion ARR between Q3 FY21 and Q2 FY 22, while new ARR was flat over the same period. Furthermore, our high-performing companies tend to see greater marketing spend efficiency due to a focus on retention and expansion.
It’s clear that customer retention will continue to be a major focus for B2B SaaS marketers. As the world continues to grapple with an unfolding economic crisis, businesses across all industries need to fight harder than ever to keep their customers from jumping ship and going to competitors that offer a cheaper price. Investing time into creating an effective customer marketing function is essential.
Key Insight: Expansion revenue will be cheaper and easier to drive than new logo this year. Consider reallocating both budget and people resources to these initiatives.
For more on the importance of customer retention and the role of marketing, read How to Grow by Marketing to Customers.
Shift the events mix
Overall, 41% of Insight portfolio companies indicated event budgets in 2023 will remain the same compared to 2022, while 25% are increasing budgets, and 34% are experiencing a decrease in budget.
With inflation hitting everything from travel expenses to on-site cappuccino machines, events may become a more difficult and expensive prospect in 2023. Data from Insight portfolio company, Bizzabo, suggests that in-person events remain important and are here to stay: 72% of event organizers indicated that in-person events remain a crucial part of their overall event strategy, 98% plan to host at least one in-person event next year, and 85% plan to host at least three.
However, for companies experiencing significant budget constraints, virtual event platforms could provide the solution. Think webinars, tailored content facilitated by virtual assistants and AI bots, as well as interactive 3D experiences. These solutions can help marketers reach new customers and keep current ones engaged in a more cost-effective manner, allowing them to maximize their budget. According to Bizzabo, 68% of event organizers plan to have a virtual component at their next in-person event, and 53% are “focused” or “very focused” on a virtual events strategy for 2023.
Key Insight: Maximize your event budget by getting the right mix of virtual, live, and hybrid events. Make sure to include multiple tactics to drive multiple objectives for events such as brand building, pipeline acceleration, and partner marketing.
For a full playbook on how to think about Hybrid Events, read Virtual, In-Person & Hybrid Events? Oh, My!
Enlist help from AI
Personalization will be key in 2023. As the target market continues to become more demanding, B2B SaaS markets must lead the way in providing a bespoke journey for each customer. From tailored content and products to automated emails and personalized ads, marketers need to find ways to make their customers feel like they are the only ones that matter — and it needs to be done at scale.
Many companies are also starting to experiment with generative AI in creative ways. From creating short-form bespoke content and LinkedIn posts, to brainstorming webinar ideas and product names, the use cases for generative AI are expansive. Be careful to validate content produced by generative AI to ensure the facts are correct.
Key Insight: Personalization demands more content than most marketing teams are capable of creating. Begin experimenting with tools like Jasper and Writer to leverage the power of generative AI and bridge the gap.
For more on generative AI, read What Marketers Need to Know About AI-Generated Content.
Keep marketing’s seat at the table
Marketers will need to fight hard to keep the marketing function whole in the face of organizational restructuring. Marketers need to be aware of the dangers of “siloing” their team. It’s becoming increasingly common to split off demand generation and put it under the CRO’s domain, product marketing connected to the product organization, and marketing operations placed under revenue operations. As B2B SaaS organizations continue to become more complex, it’s important for marketers to have a seat at the table and ensure that their efforts are aligned with business goals. Tools like BlueOcean can help marketers quantify their collective business impact by providing insight into how ads, content, brand messaging, and more compare to competitors. By directly tying brand value and other marketing activities back to business impact, marketing leaders can maintain a seat at the table.
Key Insight: While some marketing activities may seem to fit better under another functional area, the loss of integrated messaging and tactics will cost the organization far more.
2023 is likely to be an interesting year, but with the right strategies in place, B2B SaaS marketers can emerge as winners. So, start preparing now and maybe your organization might get lucky with a strong year of performance.
Editor’s note: Jasper, Writer, BlueOcean, and Bizzabo are Insight portfolio companies.