Where are marketing budgets trending for B2B SaaS in 2022?

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Life has changed a lot since the end of 2019 and now that we have a couple of years of data it’s a good time to learn where B2B SaaS marketing spend has gone and where it’s trending for 2022. One of the resources I take a read from is Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey.

The below key findings are from a collaborative survey conducted and analyzed by Gartner’s Research Data and Analytics team. It was was an online survey from March to May 2021 and features the results from 400 respondents in the U.S. (49%), U.K. (27%), France (12%), Germany (11%), and Canada (1%). The respondents represent a decent range of industries including financial services, high tech, manufacturing, consumer products, media, retail, and more.

Since the responses come from CMO’s representing a broad range of industries, it’s not exactly clear how much of these insights are applicable to a B2B SaaS CMO however, it does reflect the general sentiments of CMO’s which can provide some level of insight into where budgets are generally trending. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Key Findings from Gartner’s 2021 CMO Spend Survey

Marketing budgets continue to fall

The survey results show that the majority of respondents made budget cuts as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. In an earlier and separate survey, Gartner’s CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2020-2021, CMOs had anticipated that budgets would bounce back fairly quickly in 2021. It seems that those expectations never materialized as budget percentages of total revenue continued to decline to it’s lowest point in the survey’s history.

Line chart of marketing budget percentage of total revenue
Source: Gartner Insights

Marketing budgets are typically the first to be cut and last to be restored for enterprise organizations. This could be an opportunity for more nimble companies to take advantage of the lull period, if they can find ingenious ways of acting on it.

The enterprise marketers will likely have to convince their other enterprise stakeholders that cutting back today has risks for tomorrow, as it’s getting more competitive keep their brands relevant and their reach to customers strong.

Spend is shifting from offline to digital channels

Pure-play digital channels are expected to take up more of total budgets as spend shifts from offline. The digital channels that are benefiting the most from increased investment are social marketing, SEO and digital advertising.

Horizontal bar chart of marketing budget allocation by marketing channels
Source: Gartner’s The State of Marketing Budgets 2021

It might seem that the majority of CMOs decided to shift channel spend in order to reduce costs but only 24% of respondents stated so. The top three responses were:

  1. To leverage advances in digital technology
  2. To improve brand awareness
  3. To improve data collection and analysis for better data-driven insights of digital channels

Work is moving from agencies to in-house

Although the change in spend from outsourced agencies to in-house teams is small year-over-year, respondents reported that about 29% of work had moved from agencies to in-house. This indicates that CMOs are having to squeeze more performance and efficiencies out of their teams, reimagining their capabilities.

Bar chart of marketing budget allocation changes from 2020 to 2021
Source: Gartner’s The State of Marketing Budgets 2021

The amount of work reported as moving in-house in 2021 is similar to what was reported in 2020’s survey, indicating that a substantial amount of work has been moved in-house over two years. The top three types of work were reported as:

  1. Brand strategy
  2. Innovation and technology
  3. Marketing strategy development

The State of Marketing Budgets 2021 report reveals some interesting insights that stir up ideas as to how a B2B SaaS marketer can approach 2022. It’s worth the read as it’s short and to the point. While I’m still left wondering how 2022 will end up, I can now take to my team the knowledge that we’re not alone in focusing on our pure-play channels, particularly social.