Generative AI is here for good, but how are B2B marketers actually feeling about it?
And more importantly, how will AI impact formal processes in B2B marketing, lead generation and budgeting?
We’re looking at a new era of marketing. So instead of adding on with projections and opinions, we conducted research with over 300 B2B marketing professionals to find out the latest B2B marketing trends and content marketing statistics we need to know to stay ahead.
Looking for more? Unlock the full B2B Marketer’s Forecast for AI, Budgeting and Lead Generation to get all the statistics and strategies you need to know.
B2B marketing statistics to think about (+ topics we’ll explore)
Let’s start with some highlights:
- The biggest challenges marketers face are improving lead quality and conversion rates (54%) and generating more leads (41%)
- In 2023, 45% of marketing budgets are projected to be spent on marketing programs and paid media
- 85% of marketers see AI as having a positive impact on B2B marketing, yet only 41% of marketers plan to use AI in their strategy in 2023.
B2B lead generation statistics: Highest B2B marketing priorities and challenges, ranked
Before we start talking about AI, there are some clear trends we see in regard to prioritization and spending across all industries in 2023.
Let’s drill down on a few of them:
1. Brand awareness (51%) is the highest B2B marketing priority for the year (ViB, 2023).
While we gave marketers lots of options to choose from (see our graph), we’re surprised that this top-of-funnel priority, increasing brand awareness, took the first place with 51% of marketers ranking it as one of their top three priorities.
We’re also noting that B2B marketers are adopting a more traditional B2C approach, focusing on marketing to humans, rather than organizations.
This shift is evident in the increasing use of humorous and memorable campaigns that leave a lasting impression on the audience. Ultimately, building brand awareness serves as the foundation for effective marketing strategies.
2. The next biggest marketing priorities for 2023 are generating more leads (49%) and improving lead quality and conversion rates (46%) (ViB, 2023).
B2B lead generation continues to be a fundamental focus.
More specifically generating more leads (49%) and improving overall lead quality and conversion rates (46%) are the second and third most common priorities respectively for B2B marketers.
Interestingly, we’re seeing lead generation overshadow other priorities that have been popular topics, like ABM and market expansion.
3. ABM is a top priority for only 18% of marketers; and expanding to new markets for only 17% of marketers (ViB, 2023).
General lead generation is emphasized much more heavily than other strategies like ABM (18% reported this as a priority) and expanding to new markets (17%).
This suggests a search for a balanced approach that considers both cost-per-lead and lead quality.
ABM can be effective but comes with higher costs and associated risks. Expanding to new markets may be cost-effective but it often results in lower-quality leads. The ideal strategy involves targeting specific markets and personas without relying solely on a single approach.
Dive deeper into these statistics and strategies with the full State of B2B Marketing Report.
4. The two biggest challenges marketers are facing this year are improving lead quality and conversion rates (54%) and generating more leads (41%) (ViB, 2023).
We then surveyed respondents about their biggest marketing challenges, giving them the same few options as before.
Coincidentally, we’re seeing lead quality and generating leads ranked as the two biggest challenges B2B marketers are facing.
B2B lead generation performance across each stage of the funnel
Next, we also unpacked how well B2B marketers have performed in their lead generation strategies.
5. On average, 55% of marketers met — but did not exceed — their target lead numbers in 2022 (ViB, 2023).
Nearly a quarter of organizations fell well below their conversion rate targets.
And in particular, 22% of organizations exceeded their targets for overall leads generated in the top of the funnel – with basic contact info generated.
Compare that to just over 10% of B2B leaders that exceeded their targets for the middle to bottom of the funnel. This
In the world of B2B marketing, “good enough” is never what we strive for, so what can marketers do to start exceeding expectations as opposed to just making ends meet?
It’s clear that lead generation is at the core of marketers’ concerns, as both the top challenges and priorities revolve around effectively generating and nurturing leads. Even from the performance standpoint, lead quality is a major concern too.
✅ Lead quality is our number one focus at ViB. Read how we helped clients like Automation Anywhere generate leads with a 50% lead-to-opportunity conversion rate.
B2B marketing statistics, by channel: Importance and effectiveness of email marketing and more
Now let’s look at individual marketing channels, and how important and effective they are in our B2B marketing strategies today.
6. Email marketing (83%) and website and SEO (83%) are the most important marketing channels in one’s current strategy (ViB, 2023).
Other channels like content marketing (75%) and social media marketing (74%), also rank highly — while videos and podcasts are considered important by a mere 31% of marketers.
7. Only 31% of B2B marketers say that video and podcast marketing are important marketing channels, suggesting a slow uptake (ViB, 2023).
It’s worth considering that B2B marketers may not have fully explored the potential of video and audio, despite its effectiveness being highlighted by industry leaders and news outlets.
For example, we know that short-form video has the highest ROI of any social media marketing strategy, with long form and podcasts following pretty closely behind (Hubspot, 2023).
The growing popularity of platforms like TikTok and Twitch makes it increasingly challenging to overlook the significance of video in marketing strategies.
8. Virtual events (98%) and website and SEO (96%) are the most effective marketing channels in generating quality leads, according to B2B marketers (ViB, 2023).
When we asked how marketers would rate the effectiveness of various marketing channels in terms of generating quality leads, website and SEO, plus virtual events, saw the highest scores.
In fact, 45% of marketers see these strategies as very effective.
9. Social media marketing is the least effective in generating quality leads, with 16% of B2B marketers claiming it is not effective (ViB, 2023).
Among all the marketing channels we asked about, social media marketing had the lowest impact, along with video and podcast marketing, with only 21% and 22% of marketers considering them effective, respectively.
However, considering our respondents are B2B marketers in high-tech industries, it becomes apparent that other marketing channels would align more effectively with their longer sales cycles and technical nature.
So, if you find yourself in this industry without a formal social or video strategy, chances are you’re likely not missing out on significant opportunities for now.
Surprisingly, we found some contrasting lead generation statistics too. Let’s start with email usage statistics.
10. Despite email marketing being ranked the most important marketing channel, only 33% of marketers recognize the channel as very effective in generating leads (ViB, 2023).
Despite the 83% of marketers agreeing on the importance of email marketing for lead generation, only 33% of marketers view it as an effective channel in terms of generating quality leads.
Now chew on this next finding.
11. The average email open rate in 2022 for the B2B tech industry is 14% (ViB, 2023).
A significant 61% of B2B marketers reported email open rates below 20% in 2022.
With all the results calculated and weights applied, the average email open rate for B2B marketing is 14%.
These email marketing ROI statistics raise the question of whether our focus on email is driven by necessity or a truly strategic priority?
12. 90% of B2B marketers say that B2B appointment setting is effective in generating leads, despite perceiving it as less important (21%) in their strategies (ViB, 2023).
Another contrast we found was in B2B appointment setting.
Only 21% of B2B marketers rank appointment setting as important, i.e. the least important strategy. Yet, appointment setting is the third most effective channel according to our respondents.
As a top to mid-of-funnel tactic to generate leads who are ready to meet, B2B appointment setting has seen results, like a 82.5% lead to opportunity conversion rate.
There’s real potential for untapped opportunities and further exploration in B2B appointment setting for sure.
Top B2B marketing trends: emerging tools, tactics we’re seeing
As a segway into our hot topic of AI, we wondered what other trends B2B marketers were adopting broadly. And while AI is definitely on our list, it’s still taking its time to catch up to other dominant trends.
13. 53% of marketers say they are focused on repurposed content this year (ViB, 2023).
Utilizing existing content efficiently, whether by revising older pieces or condensing current long-form copy into bite-sized blogs and other formats, is a smart resource allocation strategy.
It enables the creation of content for multiple channels from a single source, maximizing content output and reach.
14. Half of all marketers are leaning into short-form video (ViB, 2023).
This is particularly interesting given how many of these respondents expressed that video was not an effective or high-priority channel.
But we’re optimistic!
This shows that these organizations may be open to exploring video as a tactic, even though they may not have a complete understanding of the best practices for driving engagement.
🔓 Unlock the complete B2B Marketers Forecast report and gain valuable tips on leveraging our latest B2B marketing trends.
15. 50% of marketers are back to in-person events this year (ViB, 2023).
The return to IRL experiences has been tenuous at best — but it seems as though many marketers are ready to make the leap.
With the CDC officially declaring the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketing teams are beginning to prioritize face-to-face marketing once more.
We’re also wondering how much this has to do with webinar fatigue?
16. For B2B marketers in tech, their average webinar attendance rate is 37.5% (ViB, 2023).
So we dug into some webinar statistics in 2022, specifically looking at average attendance rates for webinars held by B2B marketers in the tech industry.
The percentage of webinar attendees out of total registrants is 37.5% for B2B marketers, and that’s slightly lower than the 40-50% we’re seeing in some earlier studies on webinar marketing statistics.
It really is no easy feat to capture the attention of attendees in the virtual world.
Though if you’re ever in need of a little extra boost to ensure targeted attendees for your events, these might help:
- ViB Webinars, a full-service virtual events management solution
- ViB Emails, an email marketing service perfect for webinar promotion solution
Both solutions come with guaranteed attendees from our ViB Community — an engaged network of millions of tech professionals who are eager to explore new solutions.
Generative AI trends and statistics in B2B marketing
Now we’re on to the fun part! But first, let’s begin with a definition.
Although ChatGPT gained popularity for this technology, several platforms now utilize generative AI to generate various forms of content, including articles, websites, and videos.
Marketers have started incorporating AI-generated content into their daily activities too.
17. 85% of marketers see AI as having a positive impact on B2B marketing in the next 12 months (ViB, 2023).
Starting with the basics, things are looking great for AI in marketing.
Specifically, over a quarter of marketers (26%) see a strong positive impact, and 59% see at least some positive impact.
Impact and benefits of AI in marketing, by channel
Next, we asked which specific marketing channels AI will be making the most impact.
18. Generative AI will have the most impact on content marketing, with 96% of marketers seeing some to strong impact (ViB, 2023).
It’s no surprise that content marketing takes first spot here. Within that 96% of respondents who agreed, 60% of them see a strong impact of generative AI on content marketing.
Other contenders include these channels that marketers think will be impacted by AI:
- Email marketing (92%)
- Website and SEO (91%)
- Social media marketing (94%)
19. The most potential for generative AI-powered tools is in creating content (94%) and personalizing content (94%), according to B2B marketers (ViB, 2023).
We wanted to also find out which specific areas of marketing that our respondents see the highest potential for generative AI adoption, to see how it would overlap with various marketing channels.
Content marketing activities — i.e. creating assets and personalizing content — have the most potential for AI application.
Interestingly though, areas planning a marketing strategy is seeing more lukewarm response, with only 20% of marketers seeing a strong potential.
One thing remains clear. There are a lot of positive impacts that AI can have on marketing, because it’s fast, cost-efficient, and may even help SEO!
And for us, the biggest perk is combating writer’s block, whether you’re writing long-form pieces, or coming up with content ideas.
20. Before ChatGPT, 63% of marketers saw marketing automation as the most promising use case for AI (ViB, 2023).
What about before ChatGPT came along and transformed the AI industry — were marketers already using AI?
We asked about it too, and found that most B2B marketers were using AI for marketing automation (63%), chatbots (45%) and predictive analytics (33%).
It’s safe to say that before GPT, creative tools like for copywriting (16%), design (11%) and branding (9%) mostly took a back seat.
Best AI tools for digital marketing
21. 61% of marketers are exploring or currently using ChatGPT. Following closely behind is Grammarly (53%) (ViB, 2023).
As to which specific tools and platforms us B2B marketers are either using already, or exploring, ChatGPT came on top.
Grammarly, a cloud-based typing assistant that recently incorporated AI into its offering, comes at a close second.
22. Generative AI tools that aren’t copywriting related are seeing slower uptake, with less than 5% of marketers having tried various advertising, design, and voice-editing AI tools (ViB, 2023).
It’s clear to us too that this generative AI trend has more limitations in areas that aren’t grounded in copywriting.
Implementing generative AI in marketing
Now, in terms of execution, we see a more nuanced reaction in how marketers are planning to formally implement generative AI in their marketing strategies.
23. Only 38% of marketers have formalized plans to use AI within the next 12 months (ViB, 2023).
Also, when we say “formal” here, we’re talking about standardized processes being implemented, and corporate licenses being purchased to officially introduce AI into everyday work.
Among those with formal plans to implement generative AI:
- 14% have already formally implemented AI
- 14% are planning to formally implement AI in the next 6 months
- 10% are planning to formally implement AI in the next 12 months
And that leaves more than half of our respondents (62%) still experimenting with AI without clear plans so far.
If you’re at this stage too, it’s a good time to carefully review an AI-assisted strategy together with the following concerns and risks marketers have flagged.
📑 See how you can leverage AI with the B2B Marketers Forecast for AI, Lead Generation and Budgeting.
Generative AI risks in B2B marketing
So what are some reasons marketers are holding back from maximizing generative AI tools?
24. Quality is the biggest risk for now, with 59% of B2B marketers concerned about the quality of AI-generated materials (ViB, 2023).
On top of that, 48% were worried about data privacy and security and 37% of those surveyed had concerns about the ethics of generating content from artificial intelligence.
B2B marketing budget allocation statistics
With everything in mind, how are marketing leaders prioritizing spending?
25. 45% of marketing leaders allocate most of their budget to marketing programs and paid media (ViB, 2023).
We’ve been in a pretty tough macroeconomic climate recently, and especially in tech.
With that, we’re seeing marketing spending shifting across all channels.
Most of that budget is allocated towards marketing programs and paid media, such as campaigns and advertising.
While agencies, contractors, and technology play a role, they represent a smaller portion of the marketing budget — in fact, only 12% of marketing leaders allocate most of their budget to outsourced services like agencies.
26. 47% of marketing leaders are increasing their spending on advertising, with 61% of organizations considering their advertising spend as high (ViB, 2023).
As for how to allocate marketing budgets across channels, we’re seeing significant budget changes in advertising (up for 47% of marketing leaders) and web + SEO (up for 39%), with 61% of organizations considering their advertising spend as high.
Although email is a high priority for marketers, 42% of professionals reported low spending on it.
How to allocate marketing budget to generative AI
What we found was that almost half of marketing leaders out there aren’t putting any budget towards generative AI.
27. 48% of marketing leaders aren’t budgeting for generative AI, or have no clear plans to do so (ViB, 2023).
This kind of matches up with our previous finding that most of the respondents (62%) are still in the experimental phase with AI and haven’t quite figured out their game plan yet.
Only a handful of leaders (7%) are allocating 10-25% of their budget, and a minute fraction (1%) is going all in with over 25% of their budget for generative AI adoption .
Given all the ongoing changes in SEO and content creation, it seems like taking a more cautious approach is the safer bet for marketing leaders.
Survey snapshot: respondent demographics and how we used ViB Research
Before we wrap things up, let’s talk a little about our methodology and respondent demographics.
To conduct our survey, we reached out to hundreds of tech marketers with these profiles:
- Respondents included ICs, managers, and C-Suite members.
- Companies of various sizes were represented, ranging from under 100 employees to over 1,000.
- Respondents had diverse average marketing budgets, starting from $10,000 and exceeding 1 million.
- Predominantly SaaS organizations were surveyed, with other industries like healthcare, finance, IT, and manufacturing also included.
We used our very own ViB Research, a B2B demand generation solution that allows you to conduct custom research on your tech users and repurpose it anywhere you need.
The best part is, you don’t have to start from scratch with less familiar B2B research tools, or struggle to find the right respondents. With ViB Research, our team of research and analysts will help you
- Co-design your research study
- Find targeted respondents from our ViB Community
- Collect and analyze your data for you
Oh, and here’s the kicker: the data is 100% yours to keep, unlike most pricey analysts that can cost a pretty penny and have strict rules on data reuse.
Trust us, we’re big fans!
B2B marketing trends 2023: We’re just getting started
2023 has brought a variety of changes to the B2B marketing landscape — from the return of in-person events to the rise of short-form video to the introduction of AI.
With budgets rising and lead generation being seen overwhelmingly as a top priority, now is the perfect time to reevaluate strategy — implementing things like personalization and syndication.
And, to take an even deeper dive into the topics and trends discussed above, download our State of B2B Marketing Report: The B2B Marketer’s Forecast for AI, Budgeting, and Lead Generation.