Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and senior decision-makers are under overwhelming scrutiny to secure leads, despite widespread budget cuts and Covid-19 disruption, according to new research.
With purse strings tightening and expectations increasing, marketing leads are having to pivot as the real cost of the global COVID-19 pandemic is realised.
The research – conducted by Dun & Bradstreet – found that the majority of senior marketers (77%) are pivoting their strategies, turning their focus from hard selling to customer support in an attempt to consolidate existing customers. While prospecting new customers remains a possibility, the focus has shifted and traditional batch-and-blast methods are being left behind, in favour of a focused approach toward higher-value leads.
The key findings from the research show that:
- 70% of respondents have had their marketing budgets reduced as a result of COVID-19
o 70% of those surveyed are struggling to plan for the future
o And over three quarters (76%) are facing an “increasing pressure to deliver leads since the COVID-19 outbreak”
- Over two-thirds (67%) of senior marketers surveyed said that customer deals were being tailored to help accelerate the sales process
- Positively, over eight in ten (83%) are already preparing to bounce-back from the challenges presented in today’s marketing environment
70% of respondents revealed their marketing budgets have been reduced as a result of COVID-19. Due to budget cuts, 70% of those surveyed are struggling to plan for the future, and 76% are facing an “increasing pressure to deliver leads since the COVID-19 outbreak”.
The survey data found that advertising spend (50%), the use of events (43%) and paid digital (41%) took the heaviest hits – and while budgets haven’t disappeared entirely, pre-COVID-19 marketing strategies have been significantly impacted, with teams now looking to refine their approach. The research found a significant 80% of respondents were now changing their plans and scheduled activities as a result of the pandemic.
Adam Leslie, Sales & Marketing Solutions Leader at Dun & Bradstreet explained: “After the pandemic, there is no going back; the world as we know it has been turned upside down. Customer needs have changed overnight and marketing departments have needed to adapt. Instead of lamenting the end of traditional activities such as events, the best marketers are already looking at how they can use data and analytics to re-tune their tactics, support their customers and play a critical role in the survival of their business.”
Doing more with less
Despite limited budget, marketing departments are under increased pressure to deliver more for less. Over three-quarters of respondents (78%) reported that their sales teams had become more reliant on marketing activity and collateral since the outbreak.
However, although 77% of senior marketers surveyed said that new business leads have reduced in the wake of COVID-19, teams have been quick to pivot their strategies – switching the focus from hard selling to customer support.
Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the Data & Marketing Association shared her view: “The impact of the pandemic on organisations’ revenues has been dramatic, creating an understandable degree of concern across many businesses. The overall picture is mixed and one of transition, with people starting to return to workplaces and the early signs of some return to business as usual. As restrictions continue to be lifted in the UK, businesses must ensure they continue to put people first – both their customers and employees alike.”
Showing clear value
With diminished resources and increased scrutiny, it is even more critical that marketing strategies deliver a tangible return on investment. Accurate and reliable data is key to successful segmentation, effective personalisation and targeting. Over two-thirds (67%) of senior marketers surveyed said that customer deals were being tailored to help accelerate the sales process.
Businesses are looking for new ways to better understand their customers – and a digital and data-led approach has proved fruitful: when asked “which of the following marketing data and analytics is most useful at this time?” 20% of respondents cited “changes to customer requirements”.
“It’s a quality over quantity approach, underpinned by accurate data and analytics that is serving marketing teams well”, explains Leslie. “To gain a deeper knowledge of their customer base, we’re seeing an increased focus on optimising website form fills from clients who are tracking web visits more diligently and trying to reach higher-value prospects rather than the masses. Times are changing and marketing teams need to be ready to react, to adapt, and stay ahead of competitors.”
Despite some significant headwinds, there is a positive outlook for the future. Looking ahead to a post-COVID-19 landscape, organisations remained optimistic, with 83% of respondents already preparing to bounce-back from the challenges presented in today’s marketing environment.
In May 2020 Dun & Bradstreet interviewed 210 CMOs and senior marketers/decision makers in the following sectors: financial services, technology, healthcare, construction and building materials and logistics/transportation.
Source: Dun & Bradstreet