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What B2B marketers should expect in 2023 amid slowed growth

The State of B2B Marketing Amid Economic Uncertainty

As 2022 winds down, the only thing that is certain about the economy in 2023 is uncertainty. Hiring was up in October, but so was unemployment. Overall research around “economic growth” grew in 2022, according to Bombora Market Insights. However, research around the topic of “economic downturn” outpaced that by 2x.

Meanwhile, research around “market volatility” grew by 149% in the past year. Research around the topic of “layoffs” grew by 109% in Q3, beating the seasonal year-end spike by 42%. In July, for the first time, more businesses consistently researched “resilience” rather than “growth.” That has remained the case for the rest of the year, as the chart below shows.

Clearly, business leaders aren’t sure what to make of a potential recession, and it’s impacting how enterprise-level businesses map out their go-to-market strategies for next year. Fortunately, there is great data that shows how enterprise companies are approaching their plans. The latest insights show that these businesses are facing uncertainty by increasing the level of research into how to maintain their current customers, grow those relationships, and automate the process.

The enterprise reaction to uncertainty
Up until recently, enterprise companies were actively pursuing demand, as they researched content around “brand & demand” 50 percent more than content around “customer expansion” and “revenue operations.” Today, research levels for all three topics are about equal.

This shift shows that enterprise companies are far more focused on inbound than they have been in the past. Rather than prospecting and filling the net new pipeline, these companies are building 2023 strategies that will extract as much value and engagement from prospects already in their pipeline.

Meanwhile, research into customer time-to-value and expansion is showing a much greater emphasis on automation. As enterprise companies research solutions to automate customer experience, they are investing less in customer support resources.

Finally, our data also shows that “sales and operations planning” grew more than any other topic at the enterprise level. Growth in research around the topic was two to three times higher than any topic. Clearly, enterprises want to get back to basics with their revenue operations in 2023.

While these insights show us the state of the market, they’re also useful for B2B companies that sell to these enterprises. Any B2B company looking to build inroads at the enterprise level should graft these priorities onto their pitches so that they can fit customer needs amid this moment of uncertainty.

Data guides the way
If these are the biggest priorities at the enterprise level next year, then there are a number of ways that these companies can adjust their sales and marketing strategies. Ideally, they should build around the following six use cases, all of which utilize intent data.

Account Prioritization: Which accounts should be nurtured or passed to sales? Which accounts are the highest priority by product? What about priority by segment?

Account Intelligence: What solutions and requirements are the highest priority for an account? Where is the account and its buying group in its research journey?

Messaging & Content: Which collateral or talk track should lead an email or call? How should we plan our content calendar and priorities?

Market Sizing: Can I build a total addressable market by looking at intent signals? What proportion of an account list is actively in-market?

Media Planning: How can I target advertising based on the research stage of the target accounts? When is the right time to advertise?

Measurement: How many accounts did I reach that are now actively in-market? How can I benchmark my campaign performance?

B2B success at any level in 2023 will be defined by how well sales and marketing are able to collaborate. By working together, these teams can better understand their markets and target accounts, and then proceed with a data-driven approach. B2B brands will have to act nimbly in 2023, but all of their sales and marketing efforts should be based on their customers’ buying journeys.

Hsiaolei Miller, VP of Insights and Partner Success, Bombora