How Marketing and Sales Can Thrive During Uncertain Times

July 11, 2022
Contributor: Claire Alexander

Six tips for marketing success from the GVP of Brand Portfolio and Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets

As businesses strive to regain some sense of post-COVID normalcy, inflation realities and fears of recession threaten to put everyone — especially those in the marketing department — on their back foot. For software companies, however, cutting into productive marketing budgets is exactly the wrong way to survive uncertain economic times. Instead, the C-suite should lean into the curves when it comes to their marketing budget. How? By ensuring that the marketing organization can pick up what demand still exists and prime the organization to accelerate growth as economies rebound.

One of the pandemic’s lessons is that there are silver linings in any difficult situation. Adversity forces clarity of purpose and provides those that listen with an opportunity to get closer to customer needs. It also rewards the well-instrumented marketing budget — businesses who can draw causal effects from activities knowing where best to spend their next dollar, and where a pull back won’t harm the core.

Research shows that the companies who bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases increased it. They did, however, change what they were spending their marketing budget on and when they chose to adapt to the changing tides. 

Winners accelerate in the turns

So, what can we marketers do in practice? Here are six quick digital marketing tips to get you going:

1. Have a clear view of the customer pathways

If you don’t already have a clear view of customer pathways from lead to close, that’s the place to start within a marketing plan. That data allows the organization to diagnose potential disconnects between your target customer and those you’ve actually won. Marketers should be looking for opportunities to refine targeting, messaging and/or deepening their digital marketing alignment with Sales.

2. Update target segments for timely messaging

Can’t get a view into the full pipeline for your marketing budget? Try refreshing the assumptions in your marketing plan that are driving your total available market (TAM) and target market segments to anticipate which groups might be most burdened (or aided) by current economic winds. That marketing strategy information will not only help you know whether to update target segments or TAM estimates, but also help to generate ideas for more timely and resonant messaging.

3. Optimize landing pages and lead gen forms 

Look at conversion points on your landing pages and forms with a critical eye. To optimize conversion, our in-house digital marketing team recommends being very deliberate about what you include, and eliminating form fields whenever possible. Pro tip: if a marketing channel isn’t converting as desired, consider whether to move the CTA up the funnel and introduce a nurture strategy before abandoning it outright.

4. Target businesses with intent data

Spend ad dollars more efficiently by targeting businesses that are more likely to make a purchase with predictive intent data in your marketing budget plan. As a bonus, marketers already using third-party intent data are 2.9x as likely to have a conversion rate of 10% or higher. With intent data, marketers can derive actionable insights and generate revenue by improving customers’ buying experience as part of their marketing strategy.

5. Listen to customer feedback to retain customers

Don’t stop once the sale is complete. Your current customers can be a source of product innovation, so get aggressive about centering your marketing plan around listening to customer feedback — whether sourced directly through internal programs, or indirectly through user reviews on sites like Capterra, Software Advice and GetApp. By improving customer satisfaction with feedback, you can use retention as a critical growth lever.

6. Accelerate out of the curves as conditions improve

Keep the faith when developing your marketing budget plan. The discipline you instill during uncertain times will keep your team and their digital marketing programs in fighting form, ready to accelerate out of the curves as conditions improve. Plus, tell your CFO that with 64% of B2B buyers ultimately choosing the brand they had in mind at the start of their search, reducing your marketing footprint is tantamount to shortchanging future sales and the marketing budget.

Looking toward the future

It’s never fun to navigate through uncertainty, but you can never go wrong with an empathetic ear toward your customers, reliable internal instrumentation, and a can-do growth mindset. Accelerate your digital marketing growth by leaning into the curve and following these best practices. Keep in mind that Gartner Digital Markets’ is here to continuously provide insights to guide your marketing strategy, instill confidence in your buyers, and deliver the best experience in light of the current circumstances.

Claire Alexander

Claire Alexander is the Group Vice President of Brand Portfolio & Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets. She has two decades of experience in digital strategy, new product development, and go-to-market leadership across the media, clean tech, education tech, and advertising tech industries. Connect with Claire on LinkedIn.

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