These days, CMOs are consistently asked to do more with less. Historically speaking, marketing budgets have seen fluctuations, reflecting the broader economic climate and the evolving role of marketing within organizations.
The early 2000s saw a surge in digital marketing, with companies allocating significant resources to explore online advertising, social media, and email marketing to gain new customers. As digital marketing platforms matured, so did the allocation of budgets, focusing on data analytics, customer experience, and personalization to find solutions to the biggest marketing challenges.
However, we’ve seen a budget decline over the past few years. Gartner's survey reveals a reduction from 9.5% of company revenue in 2022 to 9.1% in 2023. Although modest, this dip signals a broader trend and challenge for CMOs.
So, how can B2B companies optimize limited budgets and reach achievable business objectives? What marketing tactics make the most sense to achieve profitability targets in light of uncertain times? My goal is to help you understand the evolving landscape and adopt many or all of my actionable tips that are in your control to achieve your desired marketing metrics, especially customer retention goals.
Before we dive deeper into B2B marketing strategies to achieve business objectives across the sales cycle, however, let me introduce myself and the journey that led to this article. With over a decade of experience, I've led team members and spearheaded digital marketing initiatives for various B2B and B2C organizations. From startups to established enterprises, I've navigated various scales and budgets, always with a central focus on enhancing customer experiences and fixing pain points leading to fostering increased loyalty.
My journey began with a deep interest in the art of creating meaningful connections between brands and people, a passion that has evolved into both a profession and an ongoing mission. As you read this article, know that I bring expertise and a profound commitment to guiding you through the dynamic realm of marketing strategy and customer-centric approaches to achieve your overall business goals.
4 Steps to Aligning Strategy with Business Objectives
The path to strategic alignment begins with rethinking foundational elements of marketing. Based on Gartner analyst Ewan McIntyre data, let’s dive into best practices to synchronize your marketing plans with overarching business objectives:
1. Adopt Data-Driven Decision Making
With access to abundant data, do not rely on hunches over metrics. Analyze customer and performance data holistically to guide strategies. Metrics also enable demonstrating marketing’s business impact, which the C-Suite typically expects to view before allocating more resources.
2. Focus on Cross-Departmental Collaboration
Marketing cannot operate in a silo. Ensure constant communication with salespeople, product development, finance and other groups to understand broader company goals and how marketing helps achieve them. Listen to my interview with CMO Celia Fleishaker for actionable strategies to break silos (humans and data).
3. Embrace Technology and Tools
Platforms like CRM and marketing automation provide economies of scale for limited budgets. While carrying an upfront cost to reach your target audience, the right marketing management tools and platforms can streamline operations long-term.
4. Construct Agile, Metric-Driven Budgets
Tie spending directly to campaign goals and metrics, adjusting as needed based on performance. Use lead scoring tools and a budget tracker to compare actuals to forecasts and shift dollars to optimize results. Of course, allocating spending across awareness, demand generation, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy is easier said than done.
Gartner suggests “focusing on relevant, multichannel KPIs that clearly connect to business outcomes. The burning question is: Is this the right allocation? Balancing complex multi channel journeys cannot be answered by simple broad-brush benchmarks…..CMOs can start with a view of goals and the prevailing market conditions.”
Additional Ways to Optimize Limited Budgets
Here are more smart ways to stretch dollars to maximize marketing success.
- Set aside 5-10% of the budget to absorb unforeseen costs.
- Test via small pilot projects before scaling expensive initiatives
- Compare spend and performance versus industry benchmarks.
- Prioritize improving lead generation and conversion rates.
- Leverage diverse, qualified lead generation channels, like email, social media, and SEO.
- Increase Employee Advocacy: Encourage employees to share company content on their personal networks. Read more about why creating employee ambassadors is an effective marketing strategy and how to do it right.
- Repurpose Content: Transform a single piece of content into multiple formats, such as turning a blog post into a podcast or infographic.
- Collaborate with Partners: Co-host webinars or events with partners to share costs and expand reach.
- Leverage User-Generated Content: Encourage customers to create content for your brand, reducing production costs.
- Optimize Paid Campaigns: Regularly review and adjust ad campaigns to ensure you're getting the best ROI.
- Seek Volume Discounts: Negotiate with vendors or media outlets for better rates when buying in bulk.
- Utilize Free Tools: Explore free marketing software or open-source alternatives before investing in premium tools.
- Focus on Organic Growth: Invest time in b2b growth strategies like SEO and organic social media that don't require ad spend.
- Monitor Competitor Strategies: Learn from competitors' successes and mistakes to optimize your budget allocation.
- Engage in Community Building: Foster a loyal community that can amplify your messages without additional spending. Get actionable tips from my interview with Mark Schaeffer, author of Belonging To Brand and other impactful books.
- Referral Programs: Encourage satisfied customers to refer others, reducing customer acquisition costs.
- Optimize Landing Pages: Ensure high conversion rates by continuously A/B testing landing pages.
- Invest in Evergreen Content: Create content that remains relevant over time, offering long-term value.
- Utilize Retargeting: Focus ad spend on individuals who've already shown interest in your brand.
- Limit Tool Overlap: Ensure you're not paying for multiple marketing tools that serve the same purpose.
- Seek Feedback: Regularly gather feedback to understand which marketing initiatives resonate most with your audience. Voice of Customer initiatives can be your game changer!
- Automate Repetitive Tasks: Build a more efficient B2B marketing automation strategy by using automation tools to handle repetitive tasks.
- Prioritize High-ROI Channels: Allocate more budget to channels that consistently deliver high ROI.
- Regular Budget Reviews: Schedule monthly or quarterly reviews with your marketing team and stakeholders to ensure you're on track and making the most of your budget. Partner with sales teams to ensure mutual goals are cared for.
By implementing these strategies, marketing leaders can ensure they're making the most of every dollar, driving impactful results even with limited resources.
Future Trends And Predictions
As we look to the future, several trends and predictions emerge that CMOs, b2b sales and marketing executives need to be cognizant of for business success.
Firstly, the increasing integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in marketing tools will further refine data analytics, allowing for even more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns for the ideal customer. This means that marketing strategies must be agile, adapting in real time to the insights provided by the various advanced tools.
Secondly, as the global market becomes more interconnected, the importance of understanding and catering to diverse audiences will grow. This will necessitate a more in-depth exploration of regional marketing strategies, understanding cultural nuances, and ensuring that marketing messages resonate globally.
Furthermore, the emphasis on customer experience (CX) will intensify. As products and services become increasingly commoditized, the differentiating factor will be the experience a company provides to its customers. This will require a holistic approach to digital marketing, where every touchpoint, from the first ad a potential customer sees to post-sales support, is optimized for the best possible experience. It also requires marketing alignment across the entire organization. Silos don’t work!
Lastly, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) will be more significant in marketing strategies. As consumers become more conscious of their purchases' environmental and societal impact, companies must align their marketing messages with sustainable practices and CSR initiatives. Learn more about how and why to create a purpose-driven brand that customers and employees love.
While the foundational principles of aligning marketing strategies with business objectives remain constant, the digital marketing software, methodologies, and external factors influencing these strategies are ever-evolving. By staying abreast of these trends, continuously learning, and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, CMOs and marketing executives in the SaaS sector will ensure alignment and position their companies for sustained success in the future.
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