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After a challenging year of tighter budgets and heightened pressure to prove ROI, B2B marketing leaders in Australia are showing a renewed sense of optimism. Nine in 10 (90%) are bullish on their team’s ability to drive revenue in the year ahead, and around three-quarters (72%) expect budgets to increase, according to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and leading B2B advertising platform.

LinkedIn’s ‘2024 B2B Marketing Benchmark’, a study of 2,000+ B2B marketing leaders from across the globe, conducted ahead of the 2024 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, finds that while 71% of B2B CMOs in Australia have found it challenging to focus on what matters most – reaching buyers – due to so many competing demands, the majority (93%) agree that relationship building is key to success, which is why building “collective confidence” amongst purchasing decision-makers will be crucial in the year ahead.

Brand building key to driving “collective confidence”

With success in B2B not just down to one relationship or connection, building collective confidence among the buyer group, including decision-makers and brand advocates who influence a purchasing decision, is key.

B2B buying cycles are long, emotion-driven and typically involve six to 10 stakeholders in the buying group, and require on average 17 meaningful interactions with a company before completing a purchase.

Creativity is essential to staying top of mind – nearly three-quarters (72%) of Australian B2B marketing leaders have focused on developing bolder creative, and 57% agree that it is helping them improve brand engagement and drive conversions.

Marketers top the list of AI-literate professionals globally

Marketing professionals globally are leading the charge on AI adoption and building AI proficiency as they look to improve ROI. 58% of B2B marketing leaders in Australia are already using Generative AI applications in their marketing activities, and they say it has helped improve productivity (40%), accelerate content creation (39%), and create cost efficiencies (30%).

LinkedIn data finds there has been a 142x increase in LinkedIn members globally adding AI literacy skills to their profiles, with marketers topping this list. ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is the fastest-growing digital skill for CMOs globally, based on the skills CMOs have added to their LinkedIn profiles in the past year.

Amy Mills, Director, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn said: “B2B decision-makers buy from brands they’ve heard of, which is why brand building is essential in B2B – it helps improve memorability. With so many people involved in B2B purchasing, building ‘collective confidence’ among all members of the buying group can be done effectively through bolder creative campaigns, which will be key to success in the year ahead.

“After feeling the pressure to continuously prove ROI over the past year, B2B marketing leaders are now making the case for brand building and taking it to the next level. Doing so will enable them to uncover new audience segments and improve memorability and campaign performance.”

To help B2B marketers reach and engage all members of the buying group and build collective confidence, LinkedIn is introducing:

  • The Wire Program: With video uploads on LinkedIn increasing 45% year-over-year, LinkedIn is testing the Wire Program – a new initiative that allows brands to promote in-stream video ads alongside trusted publisher content on LinkedIn. The Wire Program is being tested with a limited number of publishers, like Barron’s, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Forbes, LinkedIn News, MarketWatch, NBCUniversal, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and Yahoo! Finance to help marketers reach buyers who are consuming more-and-more digital video. The Wire Program is available in all languages to global advertisers that want to set up content sponsorships with this select group of publishers. At launch, the Wire Program will not offer EU member targeting.

  • Expanded AI capabilities in Accelerate: LinkedIn is bringing new functionality into Accelerate – its AI campaign creation and optimisation offering. Now in Accelerate, marketers can draft engaging creatives with Microsoft Designer and refine their targeting by allowing marketers to exclude companies and third-party lists. They can also get guidance on their campaign creation from our new AI marketing assistant. Advertisers already using Accelerate are creating campaigns 15%1 more efficiently and driving a 52% lower cost per action2 than with Classic campaigns. New functionality includes:

    • Telling brand stories in new ways with AI: LinkedIn has integrated Microsoft Designer into the Accelerate campaign experience to help marketers build and customise creatives. To get started, marketers can describe what they’d like to see or upload their own image. From there, Designer lets them choose from multiple options with varied imagery and text overlays, which they can further customise with their own logos and imagery.

    • Helping companies bring their data into Accelerate to enhance targeting: Accelerate uses AI to help brands bring together their data, like customer lists or conversions, with LinkedIn’s platform data to find people who are more likely to take action with their ad campaign. To help further refine campaign targeting, marketers can also layer in targeting exclusions, like company and third-party lists.

    • Helping brands build their best campaigns with conversational assistance: LinkedIn is expanding the capabilities of its AI marketing assistant. Marketers can ask questions, like "How do I build better ad creatives" to gain insights on how to improve their campaigns. The assistant can also provide recommendations, like adding a data source to help inform targeting, and perform tasks like adjusting your budget.

Accelerate campaigns are gradually ramping to customers globally, and will be available to all customers in the coming months. Accelerate is available in all languages in Campaign Manager, but AI-generated creatives are currently available in English only.

The 2024 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report will launch at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Monday, June 17 at 4.45pm CEST.

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