#1 The current outlook for B2B marketers, salespeople and revenue leaders is positive

When our team first set about creating this year’s State of Demand Generation report, we didn’t know what to expect. After what was arguably the most challenging year of this century, many businesses struggled to survive after being hit by after-effects of the pandemic.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; we were thrilled to discover that many organisations were actually able to thrive in the digital-first market.

Digital acceleration meant productivity increased and businesses were able to cut through the noise with emotive, human-led messaging. In fact, revenue leaders across the UK are more than optimistic about driving greater opportunity creation (73%), increasing ROI (70%) and increasing profit and revenue (both 57%) in the next 12 months. And despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, 68% of B2B commercial leaders plan to enter new markets this year.

With that, our numero uno (and absolute favourite) insight from the 2021 report is that the general outlook amongst B2B demand and revenue generators is positive.

#2 Brand awareness is just as important as lead generation

Brand awareness is the ultimate top-of-funnel marketing.

Brand awareness is your reputation, how you showcase your knowledge and expertise and, perhaps most importantly, it’s how you build trust with prospective buyers. That’s why, with 26% of respondents planning to significantly increase their investment in brand awareness over the next 12 months, it seems that brand awareness is making its way back into the spotlight.

Of course, content underpins a great brand awareness campaign. Over the next 12 months, 71% of survey respondents plan to execute more content marketing as part of their long-term demand generation strategy. Ramping up your top-of-funnel marketing with strategic content is, therefore, crucial to igniting demand and fuelling lead generation.

#3 ABM is hyper-targeted marketing. Level up with ABS and ABE

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll be well versed with the term Account-Based Marketing, or ‘ABM’ for short. Originally coined by ITSMA, it exploded into the B2B world in the early 2000s and quickly became a buzzword for marketers and salespeople alike.

In its simplest form, ABM is a strategic approach to targeting high-value accounts with uber-personalised marketing cadences. It requires the complete alignment and integration of your sales and marketing efforts, which many organisations are still battling to achieve. In fact, almost half (46%) of our survey respondents felt that their two teams could work together better to maximise growth through developing aligned strategies and campaign frameworks.

Some argue that a decent demand generation strategy should already target high-value accounts safely within your ideal customer profile (ICP). Either way, it’s that next level of careful account selection, hyper-targeting and well-considered personalisation that leads to big wins.

Knowing how to execute a good ABM campaign is simply the first step. What you should strive to understand is whether or not your target accounts are engaging with your marketing efforts and to what degree? When we shift focus to the results of our account-based strategies (ABS), the end goal becomes clear. It’s no wonder revenue leaders globally are flying the flag for Account-Based Engagement (ABE). After all, this is how we know if what we’re doing works.

#4 Buyer intent data exists, so use it!

This one really got our analytical juices flowing.

A significant 40% of respondents said that understanding their target audience and/or its changing needs was their biggest marketing challenge in 2020. This might not sound like ground-breaking news, given the events of last year. But what’s interesting is this was layered with other top challenges, including:

  • Aligning content to the buyer journey = 35%
  • Account-based personalisation = 26%
  • Lack of buyer intent data = 26%

So, what can help solve all of the above? The answer is B2B buyer intent data.

According to Behaviour-Based Marketing (BBM) pioneers Cyance, only 2-5% of your Ideal Customers are in an active buying journey. Buyer intent data identifies in-market prospects by collecting behaviour signals to build predictive audience segments. Harnessing this data enables you to perform highly-targeted, uber-personalised marketing and sales outreach to identified stakeholders in key accounts at the right time.

#5 Quality is overtaking quantity in the race to revenue acceleration

Striking the balance between quality and quantity is a no-brainer. But it seems that, as B2B leaders are exploring more targeted approaches and trying to understand more about their ICP, quality is becoming increasingly important, even at the expense of quantity.

Over half (57%) of our respondents are also confident that quality and quantity of net-new lead generation will increase in 2021. Whether this will be through increased budgets, new tech, the aid of an outsourced partner or smarter, strategic approaches, high-quality and high-value are becoming more of a top priority for net-new leads and B2B leaders are ready to go all-in this year.

#6 It’s time to go beyond sales and marketing alignment

A whopping 84% of B2B leaders believe their sales and marketing teams are aligned. And don’t get us wrong, it’s great to see the two planets are finally aligning, but is it enough?

Revenue operations (RevOps) is a newer B2B operating model that drives growth from your internal revenue engine. Not only does this factor in the alignment and integration of your sales and marketing functions, but equally your customer success strategy. And B2B leaders aren’t blind to it. 17% of respondents plan to invest in sales, marketing and customer success unification, whilst 22% want to improve customer lifetime value and provide a centralised data source for their revenue-centric teams.

The stats may be small, but they all point towards the same thing – focusing on improving customer experience and increasing customer lifetime value is the key to unlocking long-term growth.

#7 2021 is the year for martech growth

It’s no secret that martech has grown exponentially in the last decade. However, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and B2B organisations are more reliant than ever on martech for customer engagement.

According to Gartner, technology spend accounted for the largest proportion of marketing budgets in 2020 – with 68% of CMOs expecting their martech investments to increase in the next 12 months. Similarly, 32% of our survey respondents accredited their company’s growth through the pandemic to maintaining a stable marketing budget, and 37% plan to invest in martech and/or salestech over the next 12 months.

But perhaps the eagerness to engage new technologies is why companies are struggling to understand their target audience and adapt to their changing needs. There’s a time and a place for martech, but don’t forget that you’re marketing and selling to humans, who will make buying decisions based on your ability to solve their pains.

Learn more about today’s state of demand generation

There we have it, our top insights from this year’s ‘State of Demand Generation’ report.

There’s plenty more where that came from, so if you’ve not read the full report yet you can access it below, or, if you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please see our b2b demand generation services page for more information.


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