How to Make the Most of Your B2B Demand Gen Budget
With economic uncertainty in the air and a potential recession looming, purse strings are tightening. In fact, according to Integrate’s 2023 State of B2B Marketing survey, 22% of B2B marketers plan on cutting Demand Gen spend in 2023, while 25% plan on cutting ABM spend.
While I won’t go into the many reasons why marketing budgets shouldn’t be cut during an economic downturn, I will say that there are plenty of things marketers can do to optimize the budgets they do have, especially when it comes to Demand Gen.
To help B2B marketers drive ROI and ensure success in this environment, I asked several members of the Walker Sands team for their top tips on how to make the most of their Demand Gen budgets. Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Reallocate Budget to High-Performance Campaigns
The great thing about running ads in Google, Bing, Linkedin, etc., is the speed at which you can see results. Unlike most other forms of marketing that can take months to understand what works and what doesn’t, digital ads let you know what’s working pretty quickly. Conversely, you know what isn’t working.
“If organizations need to cut budget, cut only from places where you have not seen success or places where you are experimenting, and reallocate that budget to the one place that is driving the most ROI. It is important to take strategic action, not urgent action.”— Izzy Koumjian, Digital Marketing Strategist
Reallocation is the key here.
When budgets are up and pressure is low, test away. But when the pressure to drive leads and revenue is high — focus on what works. That doesn’t mean cutting budgets completely, but shifting budgets away from tests and lower-performing campaigns, and putting that money toward campaigns you know drive results.
2. Don’t Get Stuck on One Platform
About a year ago, we were running a Google Ads campaign for a client. Unfortunately, we were seeing a really high CPC for our primary keyword target and as a result, a really high CPL. The team decided to run a similar campaign on Bing Ads and found that not only was the CPC significantly lower, but we were able to generate just as many leads, resulting in a much lower CPL and a happy client. This led to the decision to shift the majority of our budget to Bing.
Remember, just because you are used to doing things one way doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it that way.
If your focus is to drive leads and you aren’t seeing the leads you need, consider shifting the budget to a platform that is working.
“Utilize LinkedIn Lead Gen. It’s a great way to generate lead volume quickly while allowing you to quickly negate any non-sales qualified criteria. It’s also a plus to pull Lead reports on a regular basis to evaluate quality.”— Stephanie Mahan, Associate Director, Paid Digital Marketing
Take a look across platforms to see what’s driving leads and where you are getting the best ROI.
3. Focus on the Buyer
Just like we want to focus on our highest-performing campaigns, we also want to focus on our highest-performing audiences.
“If you’re targeting multiple buyers, focus on the buyers that drive the lowest CPL and rely on your other marketing efforts to help reach and influence the other buyers at these companies. Your entire sales and marketing operations should be integrated so that you’re all supporting each other with your efforts.”— Chris Shilney, Senior Director, Paid Digital Marketing
Re-evaluate your LinkedIn audiences or Google audience segments to determine what’s currently driving leads and consider turning off what isn’t.
Whether you are evaluating campaign performance, ad performance, or audience performance, it’s important to evaluate the data over time. Just because a particular audience isn’t showing conversions in the past month doesn’t mean it’s a failure. How has it performed over the last six months? Is it new? Has it had enough time or even impressions to generate actionable data?
It’s also important to know how each audience has performed beyond the lead itself. This leads us to our next tip.
4. Follow the Pipeline
It’s easy to get caught looking strictly at platform or campaign performance. For example, Campaign A drove 15 leads but Campaign B only drove one. It probably makes sense to turn off Campaign B right? Not exactly. What if Campaign A led to zero sales while Campaign B converted to a sale?
“To maintain efficiency with your advertising budget, it’s important to have a strong grasp on marketing operations to ensure leads are tracking pipeline and multi-touch attribution. Many third-party attribution tools create reports for clients but are rarely used accurately or in tandem with CRMs causing confusion on ad performance.”— Erika Hodges, Digital Marketing Manager
Stephanie Mahan had a similar thought:
“Spend time tracking pipeline/returns to paid campaign costs — this will help you determine where your budget is most well-spent. This information can inform which campaigns should be expanded to generate higher returns. It can also prove the quality of your efforts.”
As part of our Demand Gen efforts, we are continuously working with clients to understand what happens after the lead. Did the prospect continue down the pipeline? Did they request a demo? Did they schedule a sales meeting? Did they convert?
All of this information helps us better understand the true performance of a campaign and allows us to ensure money is being spent properly.
5. Get More Granular
While it may not always feel like it (here’s looking at you Google), most of the Demand Gen platforms we use do a pretty good job of targeting the audiences we want.
In times of budget reductions, the key is to get granular and focus on those who are most likely to convert.
This might mean shifting more budget toward remarketing campaigns, creating customer match lists, or using your email lists for more refined targeting.
“Leverage the unmatched targeting capabilities of LinkedIn audiences to optimize your advertising strategy. Taking the extra step to utilize email and company lists will help maximize your advertising efforts and ROI.”— Anne Ludwig, Digital Marketing Strategist
Just like we recommend shifting budgets toward high-performing campaigns and audiences, we also recommend honing in on the people most likely to buy. Who are the people who have already shown interest? The people who already filled out a form but haven’t taken the next step?
Chris Shilney makes a good point here:
“B2B sales cycles are long, often 6+ months, and 12+ months isn’t unheard of either. When around 90% of people we get in front of with ads are not in the market when we get in front of them, you need to look at the long-term outlook because that’s the reality of the B2B buyer process.”
The B2B buyer journey can be long so take the time to focus on those already in the sales cycle and see if you can get back in front of them.
As Richard Branson once said …
“In times of recession, there are massive opportunities.”
Branson was referring to the opportunities a recession brings to entrepreneurs and new business owners. But there are also massive opportunities for B2B marketers.
Now is the time to get in there and optimize your Demand Gen programs. It’s a huge opportunity to focus your budgets, enhance your campaigns and improve ROI. It’s a chance to utilize your skills, take advantage of what the platforms have to offer and make the most of what you have.
If you need help making the most of your Demand Gen programs, get in touch with Walker Sands’ digital marketing specialists.