Adobe report reveals best marketing practices for B2B growth in 2023 and beyond

Marketers are working in a time of great change. As the leader in B2B marketing automation, Adobe set out to look beyond general marketing trends and insights to learn specifically how today's high-performing B2B marketing and marketing operations teams are using technology to separate themselves from the pack.

We found that economic pressure is bringing greater focus to return on investment, growth, and customer experience as top marketing priorities. We dug into how the best were tackling these sizable and challenging imperatives. Today, we are sharing these insights in Adobe’s The State of Marketing Automation report, which reveals the secrets to success of B2B marketing teams who are successfully accomplishing these three objectives today. With marketing technology and an “automate and operationalize” mindset, these marketers’ best practices provide a blueprint for delivering meaningful marketing campaigns and more meaningful results in 2023 and beyond.

“98% of B2B marketers say that marketing automation is very important or extremely important to success.”

The State of Marketing Automation report is based on double-blind surveys and focus groups involving 600+ marketing, demand generation, and operations leaders. These managers, directors, VPs and CMOs currently use a B2B marketing automation platform (for example, Adobe Marketo Engage) to achieve their objectives. Of those surveyed, 98% rated marketing automation as very or extremely important to their success. There is simply no better way to orchestrate personalized buyer and customer engagement at scale in order drive efficient growth. By understanding how these marketers are dealing with change and by isolating the practices of the high performers, several findings around marketing automation trends emerged.

Accelerating adoption of technology and AI

We’ve never seen so much excitement and discussion about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing. In our survey, 91% of leading companies indicated that they are very or extremely satisfied with the embedded AI marketing automation features they are using today, which now span the full range of marketing processes from targeting and engagement to measurement. In terms of technology adoption, leaders were more likely to be using their marketing automation platform for both lead-based and account-based marketing strategies (versus just one or the other). Marketers identified a long list of essential marketing automation capabilities, showing continued maturation and reinforcing the need for more advanced capabilities across primary marketing automation use cases.

“91% of leading companies are very or extremely satisfied with the embedded AI marketing automation features they are using today.”

Marketing ops enabling alignment with sales

When 98% of respondents told us that even closer marketing and sales partnership would be needed in the years to come, we weren’t surprised. Operational alignment is of paramount importance, ensuring a complete system of engagement and measurement to drive cohesive experiences and efficient growth. 100% of leading companies said that marketing operations will only become more important. Above all others, it’s marketing ops that must solve for operationalizing revenue-generating experiences across all channels, including sales. Marketo Engage’s Sales Insight capability is a great example of how this bridge is built.

“100% of leading companies believe that marketing operations will only become more important.”

High performing organizations drive personalization across channels

Perhaps no other area of the findings differentiated high-performing organizations more than their ability to personalize engagement at scale. While 99% of leaders use a medium or high degree of personalization across channels, only 44% of laggards do the same. Leaders are using marketing technology at every phase – from organizing the person, opportunity, and account data that informs personalization to streamlining content creation workflows, dynamic content delivery, and revenue attribution. These organizations know that considered purchases often involve large buying groups and long arcs of time. That adds up to a lot of personalized engagement that can only be achieved with automation and AI. The great news is that this technology is now proven and available, and smart companies are putting it to work.

“99% of leading companies are using a medium or high level of personalization across their marketing channels.”

Marketers are shifting priorities of what channels are most important for effective engagement

The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on buyer behavior and marketing, accelerating the shift to digital engagement channels. Aside from huge growth in digital events and webinars, marketers also cited their websites, website chat, email, social media, and online advertising as areas that have become more important. When asked about what’s ahead, 90% of marketers said they plan to implement or improve website chat in the coming year. Many are looking forward to a return of in-person events to augment newly strengthened webinar programs. All are leveraging Marketo Engage or another marketing automation solution to orchestrate engagement across demand stages and across changing channels.

“90% of B2B marketers plan to implement or improve website chat in the coming year.”

Measuring what matters

Leaders are doubling down on attribution to prove and improve marketing impact. They are seeking to measure the pipeline, revenue, and ROI performance of every campaign, channel, content asset, and touchpoint so they know what tactics are working at each demand stage and where to invest next. Of those surveyed, 71% of leaders have moved from single-touch to multi-touch approaches, and 100% plan to work to improve attribution in the coming year. Most felt their current campaign-based processes were incomplete and overly manual. In fact, 95% rated the automation of attribution as important or very important. Marketing ops leaders have worked miracles in operationalizing engagement. Now they are operationalizing measurement by adopting SaaS applications such as Adobe Marketo Measure (formerly known as Bizible).

“100% of leading companies plan to work to improve attribution in the coming year.”

Better data for better experiences

Excellence in data management was found to underpin the success of high-performing marketing organizations. After all, it’s data that informs effective targeting, personalized engagement, and accurate measurement. Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo Engage provide a powerful marketing data environment.

Meanwhile, customer data platforms — led by Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform — have now added B2B-specific capabilities. Leaders are combining the strengths of marketing automation and CDPs. While B2B-capable CDPs didn’t even exist several years ago, nearly one in five (18%) of B2B marketers have already integrated one with their marketing automation platform, giving them advantages, including more precise targeting and personalized engagement.

“18% of B2B marketers have already integrated their marketing automation platform with a customer data platform (CDP).”

Though the last few years have been challenging for marketers to navigate, innovation is still alive and well. And leaders continue to distance themselves from their competitors. That said, marketing and customer experience transformation is achievable by any company today. With new automation and AI, the capabilities exist to make it happen.

To learn more about how today’s high-performance teams use marketing automation to succeed in their business, access all the findings and insights in The State of Marketing Automation report from Adobe.