New Report Reveals B2B Tech CMOs are Expected to Achieve the Same Results with Less Budget in 2020, Despite COVID-19 Challenges


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10Fold Communications’ CMO Report shows that only twenty-five percent of marketing leaders negotiated reduced KPIs and expectations for marketing results remain high 

10Fold, a leading B2B tech communications and content agency, today announced its 2020 CMO Report, which revealed most business-to-business (B2B) CMOs’ key performance indicators (KPIs) remained the same as before the pandemic, while 61% faced marketing budget cuts. To gain a clear picture of CMOs’ adjusted 2020 strategies and concerns, 10Fold surveyed 150 marketing executives from B2B technology companies, which represents approximately 5% of B2B technology companies in the U.S. The survey studies how B2B technology marketing leaders have adapted to COVID-19 business challenges such as reduced budgets, demanding performance goals and less marketing options to achieve KPIs. The report has four key takeaways regarding CMOs’ COVID-19 coping strategies.

  1. Most marketing budgets were lowered, but KPIs remained the same as before the pandemic.
  2. CMOs are falling short of their original KPIs due to the business impacts of COVID-19, yet most remain optimistic about hitting year-end goals. 
  3. Only 49% of CMOs surveyed believe they will get a bonus if they achieve their KPIs, and just slightly more, (50%) believe there will be a consequence if they don’t achieve their KPIs. 
  4. Looking ahead to 2021, CMOs plan to continue to move away from in-person events. 

Same Results, Less Budget: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing 

Ninety-one percent of B2B technology marketing executives have their progress measured using KPIs. The 10Fold CMO report revealed that 61% percent of marketing budgets were reduced due to the pandemic, yet more than half (60%) reported that marketing performance goals were not changed, despite budget reductions. Regardless of the business challenges CMOs faced during the pandemic such as lowered budgets, cancelled events, less leads and layoffs, only 25% of respondents reported reduced KPIs and expectations remained high. In fact, 10% of CMOs reported their performance requirements increased, even when budgets stayed the same or were reduced.

CMOs Are Feeling the Pressure 

Despite the logistical challenges and budget cuts, 82% of CMOs are achieving their original or revised KPIs, but less than half of them expect to receive a bonus this year. Of the group meeting their metrics, more than half were meeting revised KPIs and less than half were meeting original KPIs. When asked to predict if they would achieve 2020 year-end goals, one-quarter of CMOs were not sure, 5% said they would not be able to achieve KPIs, and 70% remain optimistic that they would achieve KPIs. When asked about the consequences of missing their KPIs this year, the majority of respondents felt there would be a negative consequence.

“B2B technology CMOs are facing mounting pressure to ‘do more with less’ this year and it’s clear that the real challenges created by COVID-19 will become the inspiration for marketing innovation. This year, where every dollar counts, marketing leaders are scrambling to align their spend with corporate objectives- and for most companies, that means supporting sales,” said Susan Thomas, CEO of 10Fold. “One of the most staggering findings of this survey is the long-term impact the pandemic will have on marketing strategies for the future. Marketing leaders suggest they will no longer rely as heavily on face-to-face interaction for lead generation, signaling a permanent shift to new programs that are easily measured for impact.” 

Virtual Events are Here to Stay 

When asked about planning for 2021 and beyond, 79% of respondents said the pandemic has changed the way they budget for marketing programs for the future. To meet 2020 goals, CMOs prioritized spending primarily on virtual events and webinars, followed by digital advertising and content programs. This strategy was consistent across all the industries and regions surveyed. When budgets were cut, most of the executives slashed conferences, digital ads, public relations and paid social media.

In 2021, CMOs will continue to feel the strain to deliver leads and results with less budget, but they will have adapted their post-COVID strategies to focus on the most impactful and engaging channels such as non-paid social media, webinars and virtual events. Many also cited a renewed focus on content as a priority for their new budgets. CMOs are not planning to factor in-person events or lead-generation initiatives heavily into their 2021 budgets, and instead are planning to focus on digital initiatives that can be easily measured. 

To view the full 2020 CMO Report findings, please visit: 

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