Over the past year, we’ve had tons of founders ask where they should be prioritizing their marketing dollars and resources considering the wild economic year that 2023 has unfolded as.
Based on an annual Gartner report on CMO spend for 2023, 71% said that they lack the budget to fully execute their strategies in 2023, predicting that it will remain as restrictive in 2024. The annual Gartner 2023 CMO Spend and Strategy Survey was conducted in March and April 2023. 75% percent of CMOs are facing increased pressure to do more with less and to deliver profitable growth in 2023.
See figure below based off CMO’s survey responses on where to cut martech spend in 2023.
Not only has the economy provided an added challenge, but there has been a general drop in the effectiveness of most traditional marketing channels.
So, what is ACTUALLY working? This week we are peeling back the layers and digging into which marketing channels have been driving the strongest ROI.
First, the very important disclosure that marketing spend effectiveness is highly dependent on company stage, industry, ideal customer persona, sales cycle, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all!
For example, some marketing leaders are finding excellent budget trimming opportunities with ineffective paid media, while others whose GTM motions have a demand capture component are still seeing good returns.
Overall, from a blend of marketing leaders and advisors ranging from Seed to Series C these are 4 core channels providing for strong ROI:
#1 In person events.
Basile Senesi (CRO, Arc – Series A) notes that in the last 12 months, Arc has tripled events / field investments – “bulk of it is private dinners, usually co-sponsored to bring cost down.”
Manny Ataebi (SVP of Marketing, Eureka – Seed) shares his perspective from experience with B2B enterprise from Seed through Series B/C: “In person dinners: Doing very well with these as we travel around the globe for locations. Most times working with another company or two, sometimes alone. Always having a “host” that is the same as our ICP.” This extends for him beyond dinners to event activations: “Don’t necessarily spend on a “booth” but if we do or not, always spend on the parties, dinners, events surrounding the event.”
Kathleen Booth (SVP of Marketing & Growth, Pavilion) notes “event-led growth” as a key growth motion for Pavilion.
We have certainly seen the resurgence of events. Not only impactful for growing top-of-funnel awareness, but leaders are finding in person events effective for growing and advancing pipeline at all stages.
Scott Brown (Former CMO & Advisor): “Hosted and field events have been extremely effective in customer and prospect conversion to pipeline – from smaller dinners to fantastic 100-150 people half day summits. Take the engaged persona and accounts and convert them further with these events. Reaching and driving initial engagement with the buyer persona is where traditional paid channels may have challenges. This is where more intimate offers have worked well – speak at a live event, podcast, join an intimate hosted round table. For the lower level persona content and webinars still show engagement.”
Dustin Joost (CRO, Osano – Series B) expresses that micro-events have been proving to be effective: “easy way to dip your toes into community-led growth. Regional micro-events have drawn out the buyers who still work from home and don’t want to just meet with an AE. Awareness > Interest > Intent all in one evening.”
Nicole Wojno-Smith (VP of Marketing, Tackle – Series C): “when the account has shown high intent, to get the initial meeting, field events like wine nights and dinners, help accelerate the opportunity, and offering a free executive workshop brings the key stakeholders together to help close the deal.”
#2 Organic – Content & SEO:
Content and SEO are resounding channels that are performing well.
As Nicole Wojno-Smith (VP of Marketing, Tackle – Series C)expresses, “there’s never not going to be a need to educate buyers – own your search terms and find a way to build content in a way that engages across all the channels your buyers live in.”
SEO is a hot topic with the advances of AI and its inevitable impact. Dustin Joost (CRO, Osano – Series B) shares his experience here: “What’s awesome is having a strong position in SEO can lead to a strong position in LLMs, so we’re seeing ChatGPT and similar AI search tools show up in our demo forms.”
#3 Outbound SDR:
Outbound remains effective, serving as a steady pillar of growth. It’s a channel with lots of upside for optimization, creating a constant stream of innovative ways of improving it.
This is particularly effective within ABM when outreach can be hyper-focused and collaborated on across marketing, sales, and partners.
Whether simply sharing the cost of an event where you have mutual ICP, co-selling, or fully investing in partner-led growth – the expression “better together” has real merit to it.
Regardless of which channels you’re investing in, Martin Gontovnikas (Marketing & Growth Advisor) emphasizes his biggest takeaway of “it’s better to be different than better. If you do the same as the rest but slightly better you won’t have a lot of wins. You have to do something different/unique/more creative.”
On approaching which channels, Sei Suriyakummar (Head of Marketing, Superhuman – Series C) makes a great point with her biggest piece of advice: “build a strategy that has synergistic channels. Examples of two playbooks: Thought Leadership / Speaking Optys / UGC from reviewers –> repurpose to create micro blog and video content –> use content in SEO to build awareness and get more speaking optys –> rinse and repeat Invest in enabling UGC/influencers/customers content –> repurpose content for paid media –> close more low CAC customers, incent them to create content –> rinse and repeat Picking channels that reinforce your core strengths and support each other > picking a random mix of things and testing everything to find out what works.”
Marketing spend effectiveness is highly dependent on company stage, industry, ideal customer persona, sales cycle, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all!
4 core channels that are providing strong ROI: in person events, organic – content and SEO, outbound SDR, and partners.
When thinking about which channels to pursue, consider building a strategy around synergistic channels.
Regardless of channel, try to differentiate yourself – get creative!
👀 More for your eyeballs:
Vanta just expanded their new Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) functionality that has gotten even stronger with new capabilities, including:
Additional pre-built roles now available in Vanta
The ability to create custom roles, each with their own access and permission rights.
Love to see them continuously innovating🚀
👂 More for your eardrums:
Dan Reich Co-founder of Troops, Tula and DIBS Beauty joins us this week, sharing his journey with two M&A exits in one year🔥 He gives his best advice to founders looking to build / sell their companies in 2023, as well as all the most effective B2C marketing strategies to implement in the B2B space.
🚀 Start-ups to watch:
🔥Hottest GTM job of the week:
See more top GTM jobs here.
That’s it, that’s all.
Thanks for rocking with us until the end.
Have a fantastic weekend.