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B2B marketing will be more digital, customer-focused this year

B2B ad spending will total over $35 billion this year, up 9.3% from 2022, according to our forecast.

Here are three trends that will define B2B marketing in 2023.

1. Buyers will reject traditional B2B experiences

The stat: Nearly two-thirds (65%) of B2B buyers are between the ages of 18 and 40, according to an American Marketing Association survey.

The analysis: As millennials and Gen Zers become the dominant players on B2B buying committees, the process will shift toward vendors they can easily engage with, said our analyst Kelsey Voss on a recent “Behind the Numbers: The Daily” podcast.

“These buyers grew up in a digital world,” she said. “They expect to manage the buying journey on their own terms.”

In addition, B2B buying committees have grown bigger and more diverse, lengthening the process.

The tactics: To engage buyers in a longer buying process, marketers need to develop personalized, targeted content, said Voss.

Which means it’s back to basics: providing the right content on the right channels at the right time in the buying cycle.

2. Customer experience moves into the spotlight

The stat: Over half (54%) of B2B marketers plan to spend more on customer marketing in 2023, according to a survey by Integrate and Demand Metric.

The analysis: As economic conditions worsen, it all comes down to making smart financial choices. After all, it’s cheaper to keep a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.

In addition, an increasingly crowded market makes it harder to break through the noise. Focusing on the customer experience helps B2B firms bolster recurring revenues and boosts their brand reputation in the market, said Voss.

The tactics: Voss predicts that more B2B marketers will own the full customer life cycle, from prospecting to repeat purchases.

“Marketers are now more focused on retention, plus upsell and expansion,” said Voss. “They’re building strong customer experience programs that are centered on brand, company values, and talent. This all fosters a deeper connection with customers and encourages them to stay loyal.”

3. B2B marketers will collaborate more with influencers

The stat: US marketers will spend $6.16 billion on influencer marketing this year, a 23.4% increase from 2022.

The analysis: B2B marketers are going to take a cue from B2C and ramp up influencer marketing.

“Influencers are becoming a more prominent part of B2B marketing,” said Voss. “They can engage and recommend a product or service without sounding sales-y and generate more leads by connecting to a wider audience.”

The tactics: It’s all about finding the right partner.

“An effective B2B influencer will be someone who is loyal to the brand and really believes in what it has to offer,” said Voss.

It’s also important that influencer content is consistent with any brand messaging so the impact is maximized across audiences.

Listen to the full podcast.

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