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B2B Marketing Research

Green Hat / AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2021 – Well Orchestrated edition

Is your B2B marketing in tune?

28%

Only 28% of respondents achieved their marketing objectives in 2020

57%

57% have implemented or plan to implement ABM & 52% of these report ROI

45%

Overall, 45% of marketers have a defined ‘marketing technology stack’

B2B Marketing Spotlight Webinar Series

In conjunction with the launch of the 11th edition of our Green Hat / AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2021 we hosted a four-part webinar series featuring industry leaders including Mark Ritson, Carlos Hidalgo, Jesus Requena and more!

Register to gain full access to videos the experts discussing B2B Marketing in Australia, Account-Based Marketing (ABM), B2B Branding and a special session based on webinar viewers’ topics of choice.

WATCH NOW

The go-to report on the state of B2B marketing in Australia

The #1 challenge B2B marketers faced was growing and measuring brand awareness and brand health. Tune in to find out why…

Welcome to the 11th edition of Australia’s most comprehensive report on B2B marketing.The report discusses best practices to help take your B2B marketing to the top of the charts with exclusive insights on strategy, content marketing, ABM, brand, digital and much more for 2021.

We are delighted to have the support of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI), B2B Marketing Leaders Forum, our media partner Marketing Magazine and our research sponsors Adobe-Marketo and ON24. Many thanks to our B2B CMO Advisory Council for providing valuable insights and joining us for the journey.

B2B CMO Advisory Council

Our B2B CMO Advisory Council is a group of passionate B2B marketing leaders who provide strategic direction and analysis for this research report development. Here they share their perspectives.

Trisca Scott-Branagan

Head of Personalisation, Group Marketing,
ANZ Bank

Trisca Scott-Branagan

I commend all you marketers who at the start of 2020 had your annual marketing plans ripped to shreds and new ones developed within days – sometimes hours! Your ability to adapt, negotiate, create, innovate and survive through such an uncertain year is something to celebrate (once you’ve recovered that is!). I am delighted at how you have shifted further into the digital world and not only engaged but also delighted customers through virtual interactions blended with direct mail delivery. It took courage to do what you have done.

This year’s report reiterates many of the challenges you have faced into. It’s been a challenging year to measure brand and marketing performance, optimise customer experience, and embed account based marketing. Yet these challenges aren’t unique to 2020. What is unique to 2020 is how you’ve changed your engagement with customers – for the better! Those who thrive in the years ahead, have invested time in being empathetic to your customer’s journeys, created authentic interactions, and (where budget permitted) enabled the digital capability to do so. Because you know that building meaningful relationships is all about being there for the moments that matter most to your customers – wherever they are, and wherever they want to interact with you.

I wish you all a safe year ahead, filled with the things that are most valued to you (and your customers!).

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Natalie Truong

CMO Asia & Partner,
Mercer

Natalie Truong

2020 will unmistakably be the year that no one – and certainly not marketers like me – planned for. The ink was barely dry on annual goals, budgets and work plans when our lives were upended by COVD-19. It was doubly difficult for me as I faced a new, exciting challenge of looking after 11 markets in Asia. Asia, as a region, was not only relatively new to me, but was also the first to be hit by the pandemic, throwing every proverbial spanner in the works. Budgets were tightened and events, along with marketing plans, had to undergo a virtual rebirth as clients’ and business priorities shifted as swiftly as the spread of the virus. But if there’s one lesson I took away, it was learning to be 1% braver every day – for my teams, for our business and for our clients.

The pandemic will continue to drive disruption of just about everything well into 2021. It won’t be the marketer with the best campaign idea who wins in 2021. It will be the marketer who has the courage to be 1% braver each day, to ask the tough questions, to challenge decisions made by the business, to get to know the other areas of the business as well as their own and to be the first to admit that you do not always have the answers. In this environment of sustained uncertainty, fortune favours the brave – so be bold, fearless, curious and lead the way – even if it’s just 1% braver every single day.

Bernice Muncaster

Director of Marketing & Communications, Australia
& New Zealand, DXC Technology

Bernice Muncaster

I think as the Australian B2B Marketing and Communications community moves into 2021 we should take significant learnings from 2020 with us. If this study and challenging year has taught CMO’s anything, it is that our success is driven by our ability to align ourselves to the business and position the marketing function as trusted advisors and change agents. For some, this may mean making deliberate changes in the way they approach planning, prioritise efforts, work alongside the sales organisation, and embrace the business and growth objectives of the organisation. Marketing creates the differentiator for any B2B business, but we must stay committed to our objectives and continually demonstrate how we are driving genuine results.

Dave Nicholls

Commercial Director,
PPG Industries

Dave Nicholls

2020 – WOW what a year. If there has ever been a catalyst to change… a global pandemic is certainly it. What we have seen in 2020 has been an extended period of trial of new ways of working, interactions with our customers and interactions internally. Marketers have stepped up and proven that a blend of surprising moments of physical interactions with the digital experience – the Phygital experience – can really make a difference to revenue generation. 2020 for me has been the mass trial of the Phygital experience and we must all learn from this and embrace the learnings and be ready to adapt again as it has yet to be seen what, if anything will fundamentally change in our lives longer term.

Brand for the second year has grown in importance and if you are not investing in the brand and the core values then you are missing out. The need for brand basics in the B2B space has never been stronger. Interestingly the divide between sales and marketing continues to be a challenge so I think that the biggest challenge for a B2B marketer will be – how do you improve the communication and brand journey internally? The two big 2021 questions for me are: 1) What is your internal nurture program? and 2) How are you building your brand internally and externally?

Trisca Scott-Branagan

I commend all you marketers who at the start of 2020 had your annual marketing plans ripped to shreds and new ones developed within days – sometimes hours! Your ability to adapt, negotiate, create, innovate and survive through such an uncertain year is something to celebrate (once you’ve recovered that is!). I am delighted at how you have shifted further into the digital world and not only engaged but also delighted customers through virtual interactions blended with direct mail delivery. It took courage to do what you have done.

This year’s report reiterates many of the challenges you have faced into. It’s been a challenging year to measure brand and marketing performance, optimise customer experience, and embed account based marketing. Yet these challenges aren’t unique to 2020. What is unique to 2020 is how you’ve changed your engagement with customers – for the better! Those who thrive in the years ahead have invested time in being empathetic to your customer’s journeys, created authentic interactions, and (where budget permitted) enabled the digital capability to do so. Because you know that building meaningful relationships is all about being there for the moments that matter most to your customers – wherever they are, and wherever they want to interact with you.

I wish you all a safe year ahead, filled with the things that are most valued to you (and your customers!).

Natalie Truong

2020 will unmistakably be the year that no one – and certainly not marketers like me – planned for. The ink was barely dry on annual goals, budgets and work plans when our lives were upended by COVD-19. It was doubly difficult for me as I faced a new, exciting challenge of looking after 11 markets in Asia. Asia, as a region, was not only relatively new to me, but was also the first to be hit by the pandemic, throwing every proverbial spanner in the works. Budgets were tightened and events, along with marketing plans, had to undergo a virtual rebirth as clients’ and business priorities shifted as swiftly as the spread of the virus. But if there’s one lesson I took away, it was learning to be 1% braver every day – for my teams, for our business and for our clients.

The pandemic will continue to drive disruption of just about everything well into 2021. It won’t be the marketer with the best campaign idea who wins in 2021. It will be the marketer who has the courage to be 1% braver each day, to ask the tough questions, to challenge decisions made by the business, to get to know the other areas of the business as well as their own and to be the first to admit that you do not always have the answers. In this environment of sustained uncertainty, fortune favours the brave – so be bold, fearless, curious and lead the way – even if it’s just 1% braver every single day.

Bernice Muncaster

I think as the Australian B2B Marketing and Communications community moves into 2021 we should take significant learnings from 2020 with us. If this study and challenging year has taught CMO’s anything, it is that our success is driven by our ability to align ourselves to the business and position the marketing function as trusted advisors and change agents. For some, this may mean making deliberate changes in the way they approach planning, prioritise efforts, work alongside the sales organisation, and embrace the business and growth objectives of the organisation. Marketing creates the differentiator for any B2B business, but we must stay committed to our objectives and continually demonstrate how we are driving genuine results.

Dave Nicholls

2020 – WOW what a year. If there has ever been a catalyst to change… a global pandemic is certainly it. What we have seen in 2020 has been an extended period of trial of new ways of working, interactions with our customers and interactions internally. Marketers have stepped up and proven that a blend of surprising moments of physical interactions with the digital experience – the ‘Phygital’ experience – can really make a difference to revenue generation. 2020 for me has been the mass trial of the Phygital experience and we must all learn from this and embrace the learnings and be ready to adapt again as it has yet to be seen what, if anything will fundamentally change in our lives longer term.

Brand for the second year has grown in importance and if you are not investing in the brand and the core values then you are missing out. The need for brand basics in the B2B space has never been stronger. Interestingly the divide between sales and marketing continues to be a challenge so I think that the biggest challenge for a B2B marketer will be – how do you improve the communication and brand journey internally? The two big 2021 questions for me are: 1) What is your internal nurture program? and 2) How are you building your brand internally and externally?

Mitchell Mackey

General Manager Marketing,
Fauto Group

Mitchell Mackey

Thanks to the pandemic we are all moving rapidly to a digital world, where business, especially business-to-business activity, happens wherever people are. Businesses who did not have their digital platform acts together were especially vulnerable during 2020. They struggled to facilitate online commerce efficiently and with ease. Their vision, leadership, data, people, process and system silos and deficiencies were exposed by the transparent front door that is their web presence.

Critically, today’s B2B customers know what good looks like thanks to their own personal commerce experiences with the leading B2C brands. In 2021 all B2B players, must fast forward their digitisation ambitions with their marketers playing decisive roles.

Today, no matter what industry you are in, it’s not enough to simply promote your brand and make, market and sell a product or service. You need a digital community marketplace. An integrated, self-service, collaboration environment (web + commerce + marketing automation + CRM + analytics and ERP) where you customers interact, buy (ideally, subscribe), share, engage and learn from one another.

In this transformational climate, now, more than ever, we marketers must step up and lead. Marketers have to exercise genuine customer-focused influence and advocacy both horizontally and vertically across their organisations.

Paul Liddiatt

CMO,
Education Horizons Group

Paul Liddiatt

2020 has demonstrated that whatever challenges the world presents us with our business leaders will still expect their B2B marketing teams to perform. Throughout this year marketing and sales teams have had to rapidly respond to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their clients and prospects.

For some this meant the really hard decision to pull back from marketing while their target customers responded to the pandemic. While all marketing teams seem to have gone through a process to re-evaluate their solution offerings and make changes to ensure their products remained aligned to their market’s needs.

72% of respondents to this year’s survey indicated that they didn’t achieve their marketing objectives for the year. While 82% said they have a limited or no ability to communicate the Return on Marketing Investment to their business leaders. In stark contrast 83% expect next year’s marketing budgets to increase or remain the same. For how long can Marketing continue to rely on the good will of the business to fund their activities when the marketing teams do not deliver on their objectives or, at the very least, show a measurable return from the investment?

Surely, after the challenge of 2020, it is now mandatory for all B2B marketers to be accountable for their performance and demonstrate the value they add.

Lynda Cavalera

Chair,
Australian Marketing Institute

Lynda Cavalera

As the peak body for marketing professionals the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) aims to help fuel the careers of marketing professionals and advance the marketing profession. With that as our mission, the AMI is proud to partner again with Green Hat in bringing you this latest report researching the B2B marketing landscape in Australia.

Here are some of the key highlights that stood out to me:

  • Over 90% of us were challenged due to the pandemic, with impacts to our budgets, our people and our activity. For many it’s escalated the importance of marketing in responding to changing customer needs and market and environmental conditions, especially in elevating our digital engagement with customers.
  • 74% of respondents cited the focus in 2021 is on developing a strategic plan to recover from the pandemic.
  • Growing and measuring brand awareness and health has increased in importance from previous years with 90% of respondents stating this as being somewhat significant or significant. The highest score we’ve seen here since we’ve done this report.
  • With the many changes to marketing and the opportunities ahead, there is a recognition in needing to invest in our people and develop their skills across a number of key areas including performance measurement and analytics, lead generation and nurturing and digital events planning amongst many others. This is definitely a key space for the AMI to assist, and encourage you to find out more about how we are helping organisations meet this challenge.
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a key focus area for many of us marketers in the next year or so, with only 6% of respondents having a mature program.
  • It was wonderful to see that 70% of respondents had the CMO role reporting into the CEO/MD. That’s a significant step forward in raising the credibility of marketing and ensuring we are strategic partners to the business.

There are so many great insights into the findings in this report. I hope you enjoy reading it and it helps you in your planning for 2021. All the best for the year ahead.

Emma Roborgh

Founder & CEO,
B2B Marketing Leaders Forum

Emma Roborgh

For B2B marketers, the Pandemic year started off with decisions around cancelling, postponing or turning events virtual. We saw Salesforce and Forrester overnight moving their in-person events to virtual while others chose to postpone or cancel theirs only to launch into virtual much later in the year.

The ones that pivoted early gained the advantage of seeing their virtual forums and webinars sell-out with 10x the numbers of attendees their in-person events would get. Once everyone else had caught up on the digital-webinar bandwagon, the conversation moved to “How do I cut through the digital webinar clutter” and “How best to engage C-level executives virtually”. Here we saw creative virtual experiences such as whiskey tasting, celebrity chef, meet a rock-star (Keith Urban) and more. In short, B2B buyers loved catching up with peers sharing their Pandemic experiences and as long as the content is great – you’ll cut through.

My 2021 predictions: Corporations won’t give up their offices in favour for WFH – we can’t wait to get back into the office to see our teams again. With regards to events – again, we are social beings, and want to meet and learn in person. As for virtual Events and webinars – they will stay for sure, reaching much wider audiences and will complement our hybrid-in-person events.

Mitchell Mackey

Thanks to the pandemic we are all moving rapidly to a digital world, where business, especially business-to-business activity, happens wherever people are. Businesses who did not have their digital platform acts together were especially vulnerable during 2020. They struggled to facilitate online commerce efficiently and with ease. Their vision, leadership, data, people, process and system silos and deficiencies were exposed by the transparent front door that is their web presence.

Critically, today’s B2B customers know what good looks like thanks to their own personal commerce experiences with the leading B2C brands. In 2021 all B2B players, must fast forward their digitisation ambitions with their marketers playing decisive roles.

Today, no matter what industry you are in, it’s not enough to simply promote your brand and make, market and sell a product or service. You need a digital community marketplace. An integrated, self-service, collaboration environment (web + commerce + marketing automation + CRM + analytics and ERP) where you customers interact, buy (ideally, subscribe), share, engage and learn from one another.

In this transformational climate, now, more than ever, we marketers must step up and lead. Marketers have to exercise genuine customer-focused influence and advocacy both horizontally and vertically across their organisations.

Paul Liddiatt

2020 has demonstrated that whatever challenges the world presents us with our business leaders will still expect their B2B marketing teams to perform. Throughout this year marketing and sales teams have had to rapidly respond to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their clients and prospects.

For some this meant the really hard decision to pull back from marketing while their target customers responded to the pandemic. While all marketing teams seem to have gone through a process to re-evaluate their solution offerings and make changes to ensure their products remained aligned to their market’s needs.

72% of respondents to this year’s survey indicated that they didn’t achieve their marketing objectives for the year. While 82% said they have a limited or no ability to communicate the Return on Marketing Investment to their business leaders. In stark contrast 83% expect next year’s marketing budgets to increase or remain the same. For how long can Marketing continue to rely on the good will of the business to fund their activities when the marketing teams do not deliver on their objectives or, at the very least, show a measurable return from the investment?

Surely, after the challenge of 2020, it is now mandatory for all B2B marketers to be accountable for their performance and demonstrate the value they add.

Lynda Cavalera

As the peak body for marketing professionals the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) aims to help fuel the careers of marketing professionals and advance the marketing profession. With that as our mission, the AMI is proud to partner again with Green Hat in bringing you this latest report researching the B2B marketing landscape in Australia.

Here are some of the key highlights that stood out to me:

  • Over 90% of us were challenged due to the pandemic, with impacts to our budgets, our people and our activity. For many it’s escalated the importance of marketing in responding to changing customer needs and market and environmental conditions, especially in elevating our digital engagement with customers.
  • 74% of respondents cited the focus in 2021 is on developing a strategic plan to recover from the pandemic.
  • Growing and measuring brand awareness and health has increased in importance from previous years with 90% of respondents stating this as being somewhat significant or significant. The highest score we’ve seen here since we’ve done this report.
  • With the many changes to marketing and the opportunities ahead, there is a recognition in needing to invest in our people and develop their skills across a number of key areas including performance measurement and analytics, lead generation and nurturing and digital events planning amongst many others. This is definitely a key space for the AMI to assist, and encourage you to find out more about how we are helping organisations meet this challenge.
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a key focus area for many of us marketers in the next year or so, with only 6% of respondents having a mature program.
  • It was wonderful to see that 70% of respondents had the CMO role reporting into the CEO/MD. That’s a significant step forward in raising the credibility of marketing and ensuring we are strategic partners to the business.

There are so many great insights into the findings in this report. I hope you enjoy reading it and it helps you in your planning for 2021. All the best for the year ahead.

Emma Roborgh

For B2B marketers, the Pandemic year started off with decisions around cancelling, postponing or turning events virtual. We saw Salesforce and Forrester overnight moving their in-person events to virtual while others chose to postpone or cancel theirs only to launch into virtual much later in the year.

The ones that pivoted early gained the advantage of seeing their virtual forums and webinars sell-out with 10x the numbers of attendees their in-person events would get. Once everyone else had caught up on the digital-webinar bandwagon, the conversation moved to “How do I cut through the digital webinar clutter” and “How best to engage C-level executives virtually”. Here we saw creative virtual experiences such as whiskey tasting, celebrity chef, meet a rock-star (Keith Urban) and more. In short, B2B buyers loved catching up with peers sharing their Pandemic experiences and as long as the content is great – you’ll cut through.

My 2021 predictions: Corporations won’t give up their offices in favour for WFH – we can’t wait to get back into the office to see our teams again. With regards to events – again, we are social beings, and want to meet and learn in person. As for virtual Events and webinars – they will stay for sure, reaching much wider audiences and will complement our hybrid-in-person events.

Andrew Haussegger

CEO,
Green Hat

Andrew Haussegger

‘Orchestrated’ is an excellent theme for this year’s report. In the context of B2B marketing, it talks to being well planned with an integrated approach. It also talks to orchestrated activity across internal client-facing teams – namely marketing, sales and customer success teams. The report tells us there is slight improvements in sales and marketing alignment, but still a way to go.

It is interesting that growing brand awareness and measuring its health ranks as the #1 challenge for the second year in a row. Covid-19 has certainly fuelled this. In B2B, brand trust has traditionally been driven by marketers and the sales team. Sales build ‘in-person’ personal relationships with buyers and people trust people more than they trust brands.

The pandemic has radically reduced the human sales contact which has, in turn, has put more onus of B2B marketers to maintain and grow brand affinity. And this in a year when the decibel levels from digital noise doubled!

Account-Based Marketing is flavour of the month – make that the year according to the findings. Best practice marketers do not want ‘spray and pray’ with much of their investment missing the mark. They want to target with personalised messaging and content. Best-in-class respondents are driving account-centricity and are nearly twice as likely to have implemented ABM. However the report tells us that only 41% of all respondents have an agreed definition between Sales and Marketing of their ‘ideal customer profile’. Looks like we need to get more … orchestrated !

Huge thanks to our association partner AMI, our partners, our sponsors and of course you who have taken the time to participate in this research. Here’s hoping you top the charts in 2021.

Shawn Low

Head of Content and Social, Report Editor,
Green Hat

Andrew Haussegger

‘Orchestrated’ is an excellent theme for this year’s report. In the context of B2B marketing, it talks to being well planned with an integrated approach. It also talks to orchestrated activity across internal client-facing teams – namely marketing, sales and customer success teams. The report tells us there is slight improvements in sales and marketing alignment, but still a way to go.

It is interesting that growing brand awareness and measuring its health ranks as the #1 challenge for the second year in a row. Covid-19 has certainly fuelled this. In B2B, brand trust has traditionally been driven by marketers and the sales team. Sales build ‘in-person’ personal relationships with buyers and people trust people more than they trust brands.

The pandemic has radically reduced the human sales contact which has, in turn, has put more onus of B2B marketers to maintain and grow brand affinity. And this in a year when the decibel levels from digital noise doubled!

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is flavour of the month – make that the year according to the findings. Best practice marketers do not want ‘spray and pray’ with much of their investment missing the mark. They want to target with personalised messaging and content. Best-in-class respondents are driving account-centricity and are nearly twice as likely to have implemented ABM. However the report tells us that only 41% of all respondents have an agreed definition between Sales and Marketing of their ‘ideal customer profile’. Looks like we need to get more … orchestrated !

Huge thanks to our association partner AMI, our partners, our sponsors and of course you who have taken the time to participate in this research. Here’s hoping you top the charts in 2021.

Download the Green Hat / AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2021 and a copy will be in your inbox shortly.

Green Hat has been developing the B2B Marketing Research report since 2011 in collaboration with Australia’s leading industry associations – Australian Marketing Institute and ADMA.