The results are in from Forrester’s 2023 B2B Brand And Communications Survey. In our annual survey, we ask marketing and brand leaders about their anticipated budget changes in 12 program and headcount categories. And despite challenges with inflation and rising interest rates, the survey results project net increases across all the categories we track.
B2B Companies Favor A Digital- And Creative-First Brand Investment Strategy
Website/digital shows the biggest gains across both programs and headcount, continuing a long-running trend toward a digital-first investment strategy. This year’s data shows that 54% of survey respondents plan to increase digital/website program budgets over the next year while only 4% plan to decrease budgets. Creative services and content run a close second, with 47% of survey respondents expecting increases in those program budgets while only 7% plan to decrease program budgets.
For all the categories we track, however, the year-over-year rate of increase in budgets is decelerating, a consequence of a weaker economy and investment recalibrations post-COVID.
Website/digital shows the biggest gains across both programs and headcount, continuing a long-running trend toward a digital-first investment strategy.
Why do website/digital and creative services and content continue to lead expected investment increases year over year? In a B2B buying cycle, we know that the buyer’s journey can entail nearly 20 touchpoints, with self-guided interactions comprising approximately half of the total types of buyer interactions. Digital investments provide an important touchpoint in the mix of interactions that buyers, influencers, and other audiences expect as part of brand experiences, and they are highly supportive of self-guided interactions. Creative services and content differentiate brands, shape preference through information and expertise, and enhance audiences’ connection with brands. It’s the fuel that powers digital and other marketing programs.
B2B Brand And Communications Headcount Investments Reflect Conservatism
Anticipated headcount investments, while positive, remain mostly flat as companies show caution in hiring during an uncertain economy. Even with this hiring conservatism, expected investments in headcount still show a net increase, with website/digital and creative services and content leading investments. Retaining current talent with the option to outsource to contractors and agencies provides greater flexibility as budgets are redistributed or tightened.
B2B companies’ continued investments show a pivot toward a more brand-centric strategy that amplifies corporate messaging and lifts demand programs. Forrester clients can find the full year-over-year results for all 12 categories of programs and headcount in our report: B2B Brand And Communications Budgets Show Surprising Resilience In An Uncertain Economy. View additional research by Karen Tran and Ian Bruce, or schedule a call with us today.