B2B marketers are preparing themselves for what lies ahead in 2021 after the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The widespread economic shutdown created a negative return on investment for marketers during the previous year. For some, commitments were not refunded after physical event organizers were forced to cancel their events. “Re-forecasts,” “contingencies,” “event postponements and cancellations,” and “refunds and insurance” are no doubt words that you have had your fill of.
In 2020, Xtalks witnessed a huge surge in practitioners joining the Xtalks community as people were looking for alternative ways to satisfy their information needs. For many, routines, working practices and peer interactions have changed overnight. Remote access to live and on-demand online content has therefore become a necessity.
During this dramatic shift, many marketers reallocated their traditional physical event budgets to digital marketing opportunities. Most marketers were no strangers to lead-generating digital marketing strategies like webinars, virtual trade shows plus PPC campaigns and simply chose to reallocate greater funds to their pre-existing campaigns. For others, this meant breaking new ground. In effect, COVID-19 simply accelerated these practices.
This blog post aims to help you get started on a 2021 marketing budget and give insights into the growth of digital channels for the B2B marketing space during COVID-19.
Shift Toward Digital Due To COVID-19
A report by Gartner states that 44 percent of CMOs had to face major budget cuts in 2020 due to the pandemic but managed to protect their digital channels and martech budgets. But marketing leaders have a more optimistic attitude for 2021 as 69 percent expect to increase their digital advertising budgets this year.
According to the Deloitte 2021 Global Marketing Trends Report, 67 percent of organizations increased their social media presence in 2020, 57 percent improved digital platforms for increased customer satisfaction while 49 percent increased their number of virtual events during the pandemic.
Although the pandemic impacted each industry differently, the B2B medical and pharmaceutical industry saw a positive growth cycle as there was a 56 percent increase in digital advertising since early 2020. What’s more? There is expected to be an increase each year going forward, according to MediaRadar.
Due to the extensive shift to digital, inbound marketing strategies can prove to be highly valuable when planning your B2B marketing budget since most consumers will continue to spend a larger proportion of their day on the web in 2021. Marketers can thus prepare to allocate more marketing spend on ensuring online experiences are effectively tailored to the right audience.
Brands that are able to adapt to the digital trends of the market to create a coherent customer experience will be ahead of the curve in 2021. Thus, giving your business more incentive to invest in digital channels.
The Marketing Budget Plan
Firstly, what is a Marketing Budget? A marketing budget is a comprehensive outline of all your marketing strategies aligned with their potential costs. Before you begin building your 2021 B2B marketing budget, there is much planning, organization and research needed to ensure investments are made using the most effective tactics, especially during a worldwide pandemic.
Creating a plan before building a marketing budget gives your team clarity for the marketing goals set for the company. The marketing budget plan will provide purpose behind the cost attached to each project or initiative.
To get started, it is useful to ask yourself some essential questions. What are your B2B marketing goals for 2021? How are you planning to prioritize your annual budget across all the different marketing streams? In order to effectively allocate your annual spend across the year’s projects, there should be an understanding of where your product or service currently stands in the market and how your marketing and sales teams will interact. An understanding of your organization’s sales funnel can help you allocate funds to the channels which require the most attention. Of course, knowing your audience thoroughly will assist you in drawing the right customers at the right time to your business. Thus, starting with a buyer persona and conducting market research can be a great place to start.
To make the right budgeting decisions, the marketing budget plan can visualize:
- Company business objectives
- Product or service positioning in the competitive market
- Sales funnel
- Target audience
The marketing budget plan is not set-in stone as the expenses might need to be adjusted each month or quarter. For example, the campaign goals may change and affect the finances of the budget. The business may need to reduce cost or increase the budget of a certain project depending on the return on investment (ROI) and success rate of each initiative.
Marketing Budget Allocation
Once you’ve achieved clarity on your business objectives, how do you decide which marketing channels to utilize? Which channels will create the most value for your marketing dollars? Since the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively cancelled most in-person marketing channels, digital channels are more relevant than ever.
If you’re thinking of unleashing inbound marketing strategies to advance digital user experience in 2021, the options are seemingly endless. You may wish to focus your efforts on digital strategies, including items such as:
- Social media
- Paid advertising
- Landing page optimization
- Email marketing
- Virtual events
- Marketing automation software
- Branding & creative
Xtalks has created a “Brand Positioning and Content Distribution Worksheet” that may help with defining your branding strategies. Click here to use our free template to organize your content marketing initiatives and learn how to outline the brand’s positioning in the marketplace.
Get Started: Download Our B2B Marketing Budget Template
Depending on the size of your organization, there can be many ways to organize and categorize all your marketing initiatives. The overall structure of the budget’s categorization will differ for each organization as well, but for the purposes of this blog post, we’ve organized a B2B marketing template budget using five primary categories:
- Content Marketing
- Paid Advertising
- Website Development/Analytics
- Public Relations
Download our free B2B Digital Marketing Budget to get started on your 2021 budget by filling out the form below and subscribing to our Webinar Production Tips Blog! (We’ll send you an email to confirm your subscription.)
In light of the decline for physical event marketing, B2B marketers should consider webinars or other virtual events as an equally viable alternative to drive B2B sales. For the post-pandemic world, these virtual spaces are likely to become the new norm, as online conferences, webinars and video series can return marketing leads which are more engaged, at a lower cost per acquisition, and in less time.
We hope you find the template helpful when preparing or even finalizing your marketing budget and that it gets you thinking about which marketing channels deserve the most expenditure for 2021. Xtalks is an expert in producing and marketing B2B webinars for the life science, medical device and food industries. If you have any questions for your next webinar marketing initiatives, please contact us for more information.