Even though the COVID crisis has walloped business budgets in all departments, many marketers are facing pressure to deliver full budget-sized results, according to new research from B2B tech communications and content agency 10Fold. The new study reveals that most B2B CMOs’ key performance indicators remain the same as before the pandemic—despite the fact that 61 percent face marketing budget cuts.
To gain a clear picture of CMOs’ adjusted 2020 strategies and concerns, the firm surveyed 150 marketing executives from B2B technology companies, which represents approximately 5 percent of B2B technology companies in the U.S. The firm’s new 2020 CMO Report examines how B2B technology marketing leaders have adapted to COVID-19 business challenges such as reduced budgets, demanding performance goals and less marketing options to achieve KPIs.
The report has four key takeaways regarding CMOs’ COVID-19 coping strategies:
- Most marketing budgets were lowered, but KPIs remained the same as before the pandemic.
- CMOs are falling short of their original KPIs due to the business impacts of COVID-19, yet most remain optimistic about hitting year-end goals.
- Only 49percentof CMOs surveyed believe they will get a bonus if they achieve their KPIs, and just slightly more, (50percent believe there will be a consequence if they don’t achieve their KPIs.
- Looking ahead to 2021, CMOs plan to continue to move away from in-person events.
Same results, less budget: The impact of COVID-19 on marketing
Ninety-one percent of B2B technology marketing executives have their progress measured using KPIs. The report revealed that 61 percent of marketing budgets were educed due to the pandemic, yet far more than half (60 percent) reported that marketing performance goals were not changed, despite budget reductions. Regardless of the business challenges CMOS faced during the pandemic such as lowered budgets, cancelled events, less leads and layoffs, only 25 percent of respondents reported reduced KPIs and expectations remained high. In fact, 10 percent of CMOs reported their performance requirements increased, even when budgets stayed the same or were reduced.
CMOs are feeling the pressure
Despite the logistical challenges and budget cuts, 82 percent of CMO are achieving their original or revised KPIs, but less than half of them expect to receive a bonus this year. Of the group meeting their metrics, more than half were meeting revised KPIs and less than half were meeting original KPIs. When asked to predict if they would achieve 2020 year-end goals, one-quarter of CMOs were not sure,5 percent said they would not be able to achieve KPIs, and 70 percent remain optimistic that they would achieve KPIs. When asked about the consequences of missing their KPIs this year, the majority of respondents felt there would be a negative consequence.
“B2B technology CMOs are facing mounting pressure to ‘do more with less’ this year and it’s clear that the real challenges created by COVID-19 will become the inspiration for marketing innovation. This year, where ever dollar counts, marketing leaders are scrambling to align their spend with corporate
objectives- and for most companies, that means supporting sales,” said Susan Thomas, CEO of 10Fold, in a news release. “One of the most staggering findings of this survey is the long-term impact the pandemic will have on marketing strategies for the future. Marketing leaders suggest they will no longer rely as heavily on face- to-face interaction for lead generation, signaling a permanent shift to new programs that are easily measured for impact.”
Virtual events are here to stay
When asked about planning for 2021 and beyond, 79 percent of respondents said the pandemic has changed the way they budget for marketing programs for the future. To meet 2020 goals, CMOs prioritized spending primarily on virtual events and webinars, followed by digital advertising and content programs. This strategy was consistent across all the industries and regions surveyed. When budgets were cut, most of the executives slashed conferences, digital ads, public relations and paid social media.
In 2021, CMOs will continue to feel the strain to deliver leads and results with less budget, but they will have adapted their post-COVID strategies to focus on the most impactful and engaging channels such as non-paid social media, webinars and virtual events. Many also cited a renewed focus on content as a priority for their new budgets. CMOs are not planning to factor in-person events or lead-generation initiatives heavily into their 2021 budgets, and instead are planning to focus on digital initiatives that can be easily measured.
The 10Fold 2020 CMO Report aims to understand how marketing executives are coping with the challenges of achieving marketing outcomes or KPIs during the pandemic. Approximately 3,000 B2B technology organizations in the U.S. were identified in the Discover.org database. Between the months of July and September 2020, marketing leaders at those organizations were emailed and invited to take the survey, with an incentive of receiving the results. Survey Monkey was used to collect the responses, and that information was exported to RBase for data manipulation and analysis.