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5 predictions for B2B marketing in 2023

The B2B market is facing younger buying committees, shifts in expectations about the purchase process, overcomplicated tech stacks, and uncertain economic conditions. These factors are changing how marketers can reach, engage with, and retain business customers, according to our analyst Kelsey Voss. Here are five predictions for how these factors will impact your B2B marketing next year.

1. Digital self-service will dominate the B2B buyer journey.

Who’s the B2B buyer in 2023?

  • Millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of B2B buying committees (65% of buyers are between the ages of 18 and 40, according to a recent American Marketing Association survey).
  • “These buyers grew up in a digital world and they also expect to manage their journey on their own terms,” Voss said. Buyers will do their own research (visiting a website or attending a webinar) before accepting a meeting with a salesperson. “These buyers want a self-serve and very personalized experience. B2B marketers need to meet buyers’ higher expectations in 2023 and provide experiences that mirror their consumer experiences.”
  • The buying committee is bigger and more diverse. There are more roles involved, which means many responsibilities and preferences (for example, the CFO wants marketing to be cost-effective). According to a Forrester Consulting and Outreach survey, 75% said there are more people in the decision-making process.
  • As people involved in the buying cycle expanded, so too did the time. That same Forrester survey found that 75% said the average buying cycle has increased in the last 24 months.

2. Marketers need to get tech integration right.

The pandemic rush to implement marketing technology (martech) is moving to a new investment phase:

  • While martech spending will increase in the next two years, according to our forecasts, growth will drop from 2021’s 21.2% increase to 12.4% next year.
  • “The problem many B2B marketers currently face is their stacks are unwieldy and don't align with tech and other teams,” Voss said. “Data integration and alignment between marketers and sales is crucial to achieve revenue growth expected from both teams and strategic collaboration with customer success teams drives customer retention and loyalty.”

3. The importance of normalized and compliant data will only grow.

Tech stacks and their databases are built in silos—that’s not a good thing:

  • If data can’t connect and normalize between marketing, sales, customer success, HR, and product, how can you effectively engage your customers across their full life cycles?
  • Companies will have a mixture of intent and proprietary data as well as investments made for collecting, managing, and sharing data across a variety of teams.
  • “Investments will focus on the tech that meets a business’s need rather than bells and whistles that deliver little value,” Voss said. “We know the martech landscape is enormous with an ever-increasing long tail of solutions. This has led many businesses to purchase unnecessary tech that they think will solve all known and unknown problems.” But economic stressors will help put a kibosh on any unnecessary investments that don’t “show [a] tangible impact on marketing goals while drawing on minimal resources.”

4. Marketers will own the full customer life cycle and widen their use of B2B tactics.

Marketers must focus on retention plus upsell and expansion on loyalty and on advocacy:

  • This holistic approach will provide marketers customer insights to use in new business campaigns, resulting in better engagement and conversation rates.
  • “Strong customer experience programs will center on brand, company values, and talent,” Voss said. You need strong collaboration between the CMO and chief experience officer.
  • A purposeful brand, meaningful company values, and attention to talent can help foster deeper connections with your customers.
  • Purposeful branding is important in building trust with Gen Z and millennial buyers, and some will even pay more for purchases from purpose-driven companies.

5. Personalized, targeted content will be imperative.

Marketers should embrace B2C tactics for customer experience (CX):

  • 54% of US and UK B2B marketers expect to spend more on content creation and strategy in 2023, according to Integrate and Demand Metric.
  • 54% also said they will spend more on customer marketing.
  • “For years, B2B marketers said they would start with the customer, and they would base their new business messaging on the needs of current customers. But now they really have to budget and focus on the customer to achieve business success,” Voss said about the need for CX investment.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.