Webinar recap: Cutting your external comms budget is tempting for the CFO, but what's the impact longer term?
During the uncertain times of COVID-19, it is natural for B2B companies to want to tighten their marketing and advertising spend to weather the storm. However, history shows us that the opposite strategy sees the most success.
According to McGraw-Hill Research in past recessions, B2B companies who maintained or increased advertising grew by 275% during and after the recession compared to those who didn’t.
Does this mean you should keep your head down and press on with your existing marketing strategy? Absolutely not. The world is changing in response to COVID-19 and your business needs to adapt to these changes. For many companies, hard decisions have been made in regard to overall budgets and strategy.
In a recent webinar I was joined by Ravco Marketing’s George Ravich to discuss, “B2B Marketing: What’s the Mission as We Recover from the Pandemic?” You can view this on-demand webinar now, but here are a few of the key takeaways from this vital discussion, including brand new research conducted to determine how B2B companies are adjusting their marketing spend in response to COVID-19:
Rebounding During COVID-19
While this pandemic is an unprecedented situation that is affecting many companies in very different ways, lessons can be taken from how brands have historically responded to economic recessions. A study of the 2007-2009 recession found brands that eliminated ad spending took five years to recover. In fact, sales decreased as much as 20% immediately after brands eliminated ad spending. Brands which maintained or increased ad spend either rebounded much faster or grew their revenue during that period.
Despite this fact, a new study from Ravco Marketing shows 63% of B2B companies have delayed a marketing campaign and 34% have delayed a product launch. In these uncertain times, it is extremely important to re-evaluate all marketing strategies and see how they fit into the new normal. However, companies that take too long to adjust or who fail to restart their marketing may find it difficult to recover and could jeopardize performance in the long run.
How to Adjust Your Marketing to the Pandemic
Instead of simply cutting costs and pausing marketing campaigns, now is the time to put customer needs under a microscope and strategically adjust budgets, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand. Here are a few ways to do so.
Figure Out the New Normal
Ravco’s survey showed 88% of B2B executives predict COVID-19 will present lasting changes to their industry. Rather than riding out this crisis until things return to the way they used to be (which most agree they will not) now is the time to adapt quickly to customer needs and be prepared to iterate your “More Viable Product.”
Figure out what you can sell that is strategically relevant, tactically urgent, and promises a rapid time-to-value. Your customer’s minimum viable problem should be important enough to drive action and straightforward enough to create an uncomplicated buying process. Here are the steps to take:
- Interview your best customers to identify potential problems
- Evaluate tools like User Voice to solicit and verify value of ideas
- Survey your customers and high value prospects on use cases
Go All-in on Digital Marketing
Since the start of the pandemic, 21% of B2B marketers report an increase in digital advertising and 82% report cuts in non-digital advertising. While cuts may need to be made in your budget, the shift to digital should not be denied.
Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, some channels remain consistent or are even improving:
- 42% report an increase in website traffic
- 30% report increase in ad click-throughs
- 76% say SEM click-throughs have increased or stayed the same
- 37% say email click-throughs have remained consistent
Now is the time to create better content - focused on your new strategy identified above. Leverage intent data to make your content more relevant, create more content that’s educational rather than salesy (though it might also be time to create a new bottom-of-funnel piece to help sales and drive highly qualified leads), and optimize your website for lead generation (think chat and other low-hanging fruit).
During this time, 89% decreased spend on event marketing. Obviously, live events are not an option. However, this group is missing an opportunity to redirect their budget to digital events and webinars. As more companies pivot into this space and more buyers rely on this form of education, now is an ideal time to carve out a piece of this growing audience.
Change SaaS Levers and Measurement
In addition to a new normal in terms of your products and your digital marketing strategy, you must measure success and operations differently. This will help you use your budget more effectively and put spend towards the metrics that are most important during this time.
If you are shifting to a freemium model, this will alter revenue per user and require you refocus your measurement on upsells to track progress. If you’re packaging lower entry tiers, ARR will go down but tier flow should go up.
Churn is also an extremely important metric to track as your customers go through the same budget evaluations as you are. Understanding why users are canceling and investing further in customer success can help reduce churn during this vital time.
This is just a brief overview of the research and recommendations presented on accelerating growth at your SaaS during COVID-19. During our recent webinar, “B2B Marketing: What’s the Mission as We Recover from the Pandemic?”, we reveal the full results of the recent survey on B2B marketing behaviors and fully cover six main takeaways for your marketing strategy. For in-depth insights into all six things you can do, watch our on-demand webinar today