We recently conducted a poll to find out what our clients’ priorities were for 2021. As a quick poll of sentiment, we didn’t get, or intend to get, a large number of responses, so please do treat these results with caution: they’re from a small sample. However, we do think that the findings were interesting.

B2B Marketing Priorities for 2021

When asked what the most important priority was, the result was pretty conclusive: the vast majority of respondents said that it was Acquiring New Customers. As we hopefully exit from the craziness of the pandemic, it’s not surprising that this is top-of-mind for marketers.

Launching New Products, Developing the Brand and Increasing Awareness were the most commonly cited secondary goals. It’s interesting to see that marketers clearly are worried about the entire length of the marketing funnel, from awareness to leads, rather than being completely focussed on a particular aspect. We think this is a healthy situation: if awareness of the brand is low, it makes it much harder to generate leads. Of course it also means that marketers are going to spread their time and budgets more thinly.

There was little interest in generating MQLs or converting MQLs to SQLs. We’re not sure why, as these are key steps to acquiring new customers, and wonder if marketers aren’t really thinking through the steps they need to take to achieve the end goal.

Surprisingly, there was no interest in growing existing customers. Whether this is growing the business per customer, or increasing average order size, marketers are just not focussing on these goals. We think this is a big mistake: growing existing customers isn’t just the responsibility of sales and we believe that marketers are missing out if they don’t include this in their marketing mix.

When given the opportunity to answer an open question about what they would most like to achieve in 2021 (rather than multiple-choice), awareness and brand were mentioned much more frequently than leads and new customers. We found this rather concerning as it suggests marketers believe that awareness will directly drive sales. While this is true to some extent, failing to nurture prospects through each step of their customer journey will mean far fewer new customers and lower sales at the end. With martech able to do so much to move prospects along the journey, simply equating awareness with increased sales feels risky.

Marketing Technology

We asked the respondents about different marketing technology tools. The most commonly used tool was social media management, which is not surprising given the large number of tools available at low cost.

We were very surprised to see that half the respondents had no plans to use programmatic advertising now or in the future. This is obviously good news for publishers as many of the respondents advertise in trade press, and it seems that few people plan to move marketing budget from negotiated display adverts to programmatic. However, we believe that programmatic can play a key role, even if most of the budget is allocated to trade media, so by not considering programmatic, the respondents will lose out. Interestingly more respondents said they were running, or planned to run, ABM campaigns, which typically are one of the best ways to ensure a return from programmatic advertising.


Although a small-scale survey, the results were extremely interesting. In particular it’s clear that marketing needs to help deliver short-term results to the business by generating new customers. Not a surprise, but certainly a challenge after the tough year we have had.