Healthtech B2B Marketing Budgets and Plans for 2024
I had the opportunity to speak with a group of healthtech marketing leaders about their B2B marketing budget and planning for 2024 plus what happened in 2023. They represented a cross-section of technology companies selling to providers and payers. Their companies’ revenues ranged from $10 million to $1 billion+.
They discussed their 2023 budgets, outlook for 2024, measurement approaches, and planning processes. Their perspectives provide some solid insights into budgets, strategies, and tactics in the year ahead.
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2023 B2B Marketing Budgets and 2024 Outlook in Healthcare
Many of the marketers I spoke to faced budget cuts in 2023, ranging from moderate trims to reductions of 50% or more. The primary driver was macroeconomic conditions and resulting organizational belt-tightening. One leader’s budget was cut mid-year when revenue lagged. Another noted that their plan was turned on its head when the sales teams pivoted their go-to-market approach.
For 2024, most expect flat budgets at best. One leader hoped for increased investment after demonstrating ROI. Another intends to reallocate 30% to new initiatives. But most will work within similar budget levels, adjusting strategies and priorities rather than increasing spending.
There was some frustration about this. As one stated, “You can cut for profitability, but you can’t cut for growth.”
I am sure this is a familiar story to many reading this post.
Measurement and Management Priorities
When discussing marketing performance with leadership, pipeline contribution and revenue impact remain the most critical KPIs. One of the marketing leaders referenced “$21 million in the pipeline” in 2023.
Leaders highlighted that balancing efficient spending and results was a struggle. As one noted, it’s essential to show “what activities are driving pipeline and sales versus what’s not pulling its weight.” Marketing is increasingly pressured to prove and improve its ROI.
For many, MQLs and cost per lead were the KPIs for the marketing-sourced pipeline. Conversion rates from MQLs to SQLs were key to campaign ROI but difficult to track end-to-end.
Softer metrics like website visits and engagement were given some credit but lacked the credibility of hard revenue figures. Most struggled with accurate attribution to demonstrate marketing’s multi-touch influence convincingly. This contributes to continued skepticism about marketing’s contribution by company leadership.
Few of those interviewed were using ABM in a meaningful way. One was able to demonstrate clearly how they were moving target accounts into the pipeline and show attribution but still faced challenges with salespeople wanting to take full attribution for deals. Thankfully their leadership bought into the impact they were making.
Planning with Purpose
When planning for 2024, leaders think in terms of three B2B marketing budget buckets:
- Must-have basics like technology stacks and what is considered basic “hygiene factors” like managing the website
- Proven growth drivers that deliver pipeline and revenue, especially MQLs
- New experiments and longer-term investments like ABM
In allocating B2B Marketing budgets, marketers first ensure adequate funding of essentials like CRMs, intent data, and SDR cadences. These form the foundation.
The bulk of the remaining budget funds reliable lead generation engines – paid search, paid media, and targeted nurture programs. As one leader noted, “This is what will get results and KPIs.”
A smaller portion goes to tests and transformations, although leaders admit these often get cut despite potential upside. Examples include writing a book, building event booths, or running small regional pop-ups. Still, most carve out budgets to take some calculated risks.
Notably, large trade shows remain contentious. Though notoriously expensive, many consider them untouchable given sales team demands. But some pushback on exhibiting without clear ROI. As one marketer argued, “You’re damned if you do them and damned if you don’t.”
Healthtech B2B Marketing Budget Quick Take
Despite uncertain times, marketing leaders express cautious optimism for 2024. Flat budgets demand sharper focus on core channels proven to impact revenue directly. But these marketers continue to push for investment that will help them transform to a different and better way of marketing. By balancing sure bets with smart risks, they aim to drive growth even with constrained resources.
Tough Times Ahead?
As an aside, in conversations beyond the team I met with, I am seeing some concerning signals. Budgets for Q4 are frozen or being trimmed. I have seen several very good marketing leaders lose their jobs and marketing get moved under sales. In a few cases, there have been deep layoffs.
As we enter Q4, this is probably driven by revenue targets for the year not being hit. Sadly, marketing is always the first thing to be cut.
The picture will get more apparent in the next couple of months.
If you liked this post and want to learn more…
- Check out more posts like this in the Healthtech MarketingLearning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey. This post on B2B marketing budget benchmarks will be especially useful for anyone planning for 2024.
- Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
- Buy Total Customer Growth: Our book on how to win and grow customers for life with ABM and ABX.
- Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.
Originally posted on healthlaunchpad.com