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How B2B tech marketing execs overcame 2023’s economic hurdles—and how they’re planning for 2024 growth

by | Jan 16, 2024 | Marketing, Public Relations

In the tumultuous economic landscape of 2023, B2B technology companies faced unprecedented challenges. The global downturn, marked by volatile markets and tightening budgets, cast a shadow over businesses, necessitating unprecedented resilience and adaptability, particularly from marketers. According to research conducted in October of 2023, marketing leaders within B2B enterprises responded to the sweeping global trends of 2023 with surprising agility, which drove an upswing in the stock market to near 2023 highs. This article reviews their responses to the challenges and their strategic outlook for 2024. 

Overview of the study

To understand these dynamics, 10Fold conducted a comprehensive survey with research partner Sapio Research, encompassing 466 executives from B2B technology companies with annual revenues exceeding $5 million. These companies were spread across five key geographies: the USA, Canada, the UK, France, and Germany. The survey focused on three critical areas: the impact of the economy on revenue, business responses to economic changes, and budgeting preferences for 2024. 

Key findings:

Economy’s impact on revenue

The survey revealed that 79 percent of businesses reported a moderate to severe impact on their revenue due to the global economic conditions of 2023. This statistic underscores the widespread challenges faced by B2B tech companies in maintaining financial stability and growth during this period. Notably, AI and Security verticals seemed the most resilient of the industries surveyed. 

How B2B tech marketing execs overcame 2023’s economic hurdles—and how they’re planning for 2024 growth

Business response to economic changes

Despite a somewhat punitive environment for those seeking funding in 2023, 75 percent of businesses received outside funding, a necessity in the tough economic climate, and this will likely continue in 2024. The vast majority (75 percent) sought and received funding. Most remarkably, respondents were funded by a combination of PE and VC funding (29 percent), followed by PE (21 percent), VC (20 percent), and other (5 percent) types of funding. 

Small businesses (1-50 employees) reported the lowest rates of outside funding (32 percent) and large businesses (510-1000 employees) reported the highest rates (90 percent) received funding. It’s important to note that 78 percent of respondents expect to receive additional funding in 2024.   

Companies in the U.S. were most likely to receive funding (82 percent) and companies in the UK were least likely to receive funding, but still a healthy 66 percent in the UK did get funding. 

Marketing budgets and lead generation for 2023 and 2024

Armed with additional funding, 55 percent of businesses increased their marketing budgets in 2023, and an impressive 92 percent are planning further increases in 2024. From a country perspective, the U.S. is most likely to increase marketing budgets (81 percent plan to increase budgets in 2024) and France is most likely to keep their budgets the same (60 percent will increase budgets). 

The preferred lead generation channels also saw a dynamic shift. Marketing/Website Tools emerged as the top choice in 2023, followed by Digital Ads and Websites. Projections for 2024, respondents indicate a shift towards Digital Advertising, with Marketing/Website Tools and Websites maintaining strong positions. When we look at lead generation strategies by size, 50 percent or more of respondents of the larger companies (501-1,000 and 1,000+) prefer Digital Ads for 2024 while 67 percent of the smallest companies’ respondents will focus on websites (1-50 employees) and the companies with 51-500 employees will focus on marketing / website tools (57 percent).  

How B2B tech marketing execs overcame 2023’s economic hurdles—and how they’re planning for 2024 growth

From a vertical industry perspective, AI leaders are more bullish about marketing and website tools, 60 percent of respondents are planning to invest in these in 2024. They are also more likely than the general group to invest in national conferences, saying they will plan to participate and 43 percent expect to engage in digital advertising. But only 9 percent will spend their budget on analyst relations, which is far below the projected average of 19 percent. 

With respect to other programs, on average, respondents plan to significantly increase budgets in programs such as paid content, virtual events, organic and social influencers, free access content, public relations, national conferences and user groups, international conferences and print advertising. They plan moderate increases in paid social includers, analyst relations and sales enablement consultants. 

Redefining success: KPIs and staffing dynamics

Not surprisingly, bigger budgets meant more aggressive metrics for companies. Over half of the surveyed businesses (55 percent) reported setting more ambitious Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in response to budget changes. Additionally, there was a notable shift in staffing dynamics, with 46 percent of companies increasing internal hiring and 47 percent relying more on outside contractors and 33 percent of companies hired both internal staff and contractors. And 90 percent of those that balanced internal hiring with the use of outside contractors found it easier to meet their KPIs compared to those relying solely on one approach (72 percent) by hiring internal staff only, and 60 percent found it easier by hiring external contractors. 

2024 holds great expectations for most  How B2B tech marketing execs overcame 2023’s economic hurdles—and how they’re planning for 2024 growth

2024 holds great expectations for most

The resilience and adaptability demonstrated by B2B tech companies in the face of 2023’s economic challenges are commendable. Most of these companies not only managed to navigate through a tough year but also set the stage for growth and innovation in 2024. For additional insights and detailed firmographic data, readers are encouraged to access the full report. Back-up respondent data and graphics are also available upon request, providing a deeper understanding of the strategies that will define the future of B2B technology marketing. 

Susan Thomas
Susan Thomas is CEO and Founder of 10Fold Communications.

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