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Linkedin study: B2B marketers optimistic despite economic uncertainity

Despite around half of B2B marketing leaders globally saying their budgets have been impacted in some way due to current economic conditions, the majority (76 per cent) remain optimistic about their marketing strategy over the next 6 months, according to a new study from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and B2B advertising platform.

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When looking at the UAE and KSA market, the focus on brand building is top of mind for over two-thirds (70 per cent and 62 per cent respectively) of senior B2B marketers, who say they will maintain or increase spending in this area in the next six months.

The most cited reasons are that B2B marketers believe a strong brand supports long-term sales (54 per cent) and because it helps brands stay on top of mind for buyers (41 per cent). Over a third (35 per cent) say it helps them to attract talent. Even more so, 73 per cent of senior marketing leaders in the UAE and KSA are confident that companies that have maintained or increased their marketing spend recover faster following periods of economic uncertainty.

LinkedIn’s global B2B Marketer Sentiment study, which surveyed 1,700+ B2B marketing leaders from across the world, finds that the picture of optimism is uneven, with B2B marketers in India feeling the most optimistic about their strategies (94 per cent), followed by Saudi Arabia (92 per cent) and the UAE (91 per cent); whilst only 56 per cent of marketers in the UK and 50 per cent of marketers in Germany felt positive about their plans.

Businesses in the UAE and KSA have shown resilience in business performance amidst a backdrop of global uncertainty. While local businesses have faced challenges, it has also prompted them to factor in new considerations for the future such as integrating sustainability, technology, and data privacy into their respective marketing strategies.

Incorporating sustainability into wider B2B brand strategies

With COP27 taking place in Egypt this coming November and the following COP28 in the UAE in 2023, there has been a growing regional debate around the importance of incorporating green skills and sustainability across marketing efforts in the UAE and KSA.

When asked about campaign objectives in the next six months, the top priority for B2B marketers in the UAE is showcasing that the brands they represent are serious about sustainability (51%), followed closely by showing customers that these brands are helping out in that domain (50%). In a similar vein, marketers in Saudi Arabia also said sustainability is a priority  (47%), followed closely by nurturing customer relationships (44%).

B2B marketers navigate data privacy and technology

When asked about the eventual tightening of data privacy regulations, Saudi Arabia-based B2B marketers are most likely to review their marketing media mix (MMM) and partners (36 per cent) to make more informed decisions around measuring the impact of their marketing campaigns. Over nine-tenths (94 per cent) say that first-part data is important to their marketing strategy, and four-fifths (79 per cent) say they are prepared for the eventual phasing out of third-party cookies. On the other hand, the biggest new tech-related challenge in the UAE is seen to be unlocking the potential of new technologies (25 per cent) such as NFTs, the metaverse and AI.

The research study strongly suggests that B2B marketers are keen to focus on elements that directly support each country’s broader economic ambition, especially as the UAE and KSA strive to become the next global digital hubs.

Diana Daou, Head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions MENA, said: Despite economic headwinds, it’s inspiring to see B2B marketers in the UAE and KSA remain optimistic about their strategies as they navigate uncertainty. Pausing ad spend can seem like a cost-saving measure, but savvy marketers know that linking their strategy to national visions and broader goals can lead to more success in the long-term. In fact recovering from a drop in memorability can be far more costly, whereas focusing efforts on brand building can be fruitful, especially as competitors pull back.

The biggest opportunity for B2B marketers right now across the region is to invest in customer and internal stakeholder relationships followed by rethinking the brand story, which is crucial to maintain relevance and secure future budgets. There is also a strong need to incorporate sustainability-driven marketing campaigns as this topic becomes more prevalent in the region.”

LinkedIn’s advice for B2B marketers navigating uncertainty:

  • In times of uncertainty, B2B brands can optimise on recency, not frequency – by building a strategy that steadily maintains brand presence. Advertising consistently helps to avoid memory corrosion and keeps your brand front of mind when buyers are back in market and the need for your product or service eventually arises.
  • With B2B brands looking to do more with less, creativity is the #1 most sought-after skill currently which can help marketers unlock new opportunities. LinkedIn’s Creativity Playbook offers best practices, expert advice, and top tips to empower brands and agencies to do their best work.
  • With proving marketing effectiveness a top priority for B2B marketers, mastering the language of return on investment (ROI) and translating it to business stakeholders is key. Marketers need to hone the ability to express the long-term value of their activity in financial terms and demonstrate the impact it is having on the business.