Our 2021 B2B Marketing Strategy Report – Key B2B Statistics & Findings

B2B marketing statistics header image - 3D graph made of office buildings with B2B running across the x axis

We surveyed over 160 B2B businesses to better understand how B2B businesses are performing and faring in 2021. Discover our key findings as we unveil some B2B marketing statistics. But first, let’s look at the insights we wanted to glean from our survey.

The insights we wanted to understand were:

  • How happy B2B businesses are with their current marketing strategy
  • What challenges are the biggest hindrance to B2B growth
  • How much resource are B2B businesses dedicating to marketing
  • What are key marketing priorities and focuses for B2B businesses over the next year

What Did We Discover?

Here are some of our survey’s key findings and B2B marketing statistics. We’ll also be writing a series of articles on these findings, providing a deeper dive into our perspective on these results.

Finding 1: Why Are Most Businesses Failing?
The Process Problem

We discovered that a major pain point for many businesses is a lack of clear, definitive processes.

This is especially true for small businesses – they make up 60% of businesses who cite processes as an issue in accelerating their growth. New businesses face multiple challenges including not often having the time or resources to organise and structure their processes.

These processes can include:

  • Sales (Proposals, Customer or Client Onboarding etc.)
  • Marketing (Briefs, Content Plans, Tone of Voice Guides, Management etc.)
  • Product / Service Delivery
  • Product Development
  • Accounting (Payroll, PAYE and Invoicing etc.)
  • Administrative (Management, HR & Finance etc.)

As a result, work is often completed ad-hoc and the more projects that are taken on, the more risk there is for errors or mistakes to occur.

Our findings demonstrate that almost two-thirds of B2B businesses struggle with growth due to processes, or lack thereof.

Naturally, there are plenty of ways for a business to fail. Poor cash flow, planning or product fit being common reasons.

But there is one reason—a common one among B2B businesses—that no one is talking about. 

Marketing and sales processes. Or, to be precise, the lack of processes.

From our experience, companies often go for growth first then decide how to deal with that growth afterwards. What we didn’t expect is for companies to say that growth is being hindered by their processes.

Our explanation of this is that these companies are growing with no realistic plan for automating processes in place.

This means that while they may be able to move quickly, they are held back and can’t scale their business.

Alternatively, they can move quickly and scale. But only by throwing people at the problem as opposed to improving efficiency.

A key step for new and growing businesses is to design their marketing strategy with business processes built in at the heart of it.

Read our full analysis of the B2B process problem facing most small businesses here.

Finding 2: How Much Are B2B Businesses Spending On Their Marketing?

Next, we wanted to explore how much B2B businesses spending on their marketing. 

Unsurprisingly, we get this question a lot, and it’s usually accompanied by other questions such as: “am I spending too much on my marketing?” or “am I spending too little?”. 

But the answers to these questions are frustratingly vague. Mainly because there are a lot of dependencies and variables as to what businesses actually count as marketing spend.

Broadly speaking, this graph tells us that it’s likely that marketing B2B strategies have limits on what they can spend on marketing.

However, for a marketing strategy to deliver, it needs to focus on a key set of messages and effectively communicate across multiple mediums. As this is the only way to maximise the efficiency on content spend.

A generic spray-and-pray approach to marketing can be a temporary fix. But this is not a healthy approach to rely on. Especially as companies simply do not have the budget to dedicate to their marketing.

A better approach is: do less, but better.

Finding 3: Are B2B Businesses Satisfied With The Results Of Their Marketing Efforts?

Does it sometimes seem like marketing is a breeze for other B2B businesses? 

We speak to a lot of companies who feel this way. Many compare themselves and their business with how they think other B2B businesses are faring. But more often than not, these aren’t fair comparisons, for a number of reasons. For instance, the findings of this particular question tells us that the grass isn’t always greener. 

As the graph above shows, roughly 80% of the businesses in our survey weren’t happy with their marketing efforts. And this fact was uniform across multiple marketing areas.

But what does this mean? Well, while we may think that others are doing well at their marketing, the truth is that’s not the case. It appears most marketing campaigns are not performing well or meeting expectations.

This statistic indicates the stark reality of how challenging it is to get marketing right for your B2B business. It also suggests that a lot of the advice given in generic, over-optimised marketing blog posts won’t lead you to the easy growth they promise.

Next, let’s take a look at some other B2B marketing statistics.

Other Key Findings From Our B2B Marketing Strategy Report

In addition to discovering that 80% of B2B companies are not happy with their marketing efforts. As well as learning that many businesses are struggling to grow due to a lack of processes or funds. Our report revealed several other interesting findings and B2B marketing statistics, which we have added below.

Marketing and Website Performance

We asked B2B businesses the following questions relating to website performance and marketing efforts:

  • How would you currently rate your website?
  • How would you describe your current marketing efforts

The results were as follows:

This graph tells us that businesses generally rate their website and how it performs. However, they don’t take a wide approach to their marketing. As most of their marketing strategies take a very ad hoc approach.

Surprisingly, the above results show us that only 11.76% of businesses actually think that their marketing efforts are working as expected.

But how does the size of a business and the size of the marketing team impact B2B businesses?

Size of Business vs Size of Marketing Team

Of course, the size of a business will have some impact n the marketing activities and how well they perform. But just how far does that go? And what about the size of a marketing team.

Here are our B2B marketing stats on business size and team size:

While, sole individuals make up 16.8% of the responses, 83.2% have at least 2 employees in their B2B business.

And the results tell us that over half of the respondents are small businesses. Leaving 23% (50-249 and 250+ employees) of businesses as medium or large B2B companies.

Despite this, 9.9% of companies have no dedicated employee responsible for their marketing activities. The fact that over half of our responses on this question were from SME companies suggests that challenges such as cash flow or lack of resources could be a factor.

While it’s difficult to know the real reason, given the answers to previous questions, we posit it may have something to do with processes.

Local, Regional, National or Global: Where Are B2B Businesses' Targeting Their Customers?

42.9% of respondents told us that when targeting their clients they focus on local businesses. This figure includes:

  • B2B businesses who only target local businesses
  • B2B businesses who include local businesses as part of a wider client net

As a result, this tells us that most businesses have at least one local business as a client or customer.

Marketing Performance: Focus Areas vs Performance

A particularly interesting insight from our report is that the most popular marketing focus is social media marketing. In fact, our report reveals that 62.1% of B2B businesses incorporate social media into their marketing campaigns.

However, despite being the biggest focus for many businesses, 50.9% say their social media activities are not working. Possible reasons for this could be that they are not employing a social media specialist or strategist; someone who understands how to leverage strong and weak social ties. Or they are attempting to do it themselves.

Alternatively, it may be that as social media continues to grow, it’s becoming harder to stand out.

Overall, our B2B marketing statistics highlight the importance of getting your house in order. Because the key to growth may not be what you think it is. It appears that the success of a business relies more on your processes than resources or cash flow.

Our report also illustrates that while you may think other businesses are doing better than yours, not all is as it seems. The truth is, 80% of B2B businesses are not happy with how their current marketing activities are performing.

If you want a frank, no-nonsense chat about your business, and would like to take advantage of our insight and expertise, get in touch.

About Murray Dare

Murray Dare is a Marketing Consultant, Strategist and Director at Dare Media. Murray helps UK businesses find better ways to connect with their audiences through targeted content marketing strategies.