In the B2B world, budgets aren’t just a way to keep score. They represent a concrete assessment of which priorities are most important. By that measure, digital marketing is coming into its own.
According to the most recent research available – from January 2019 – 40% of B2B brands are set to increase their budgets. Only 8% of brands surveyed are considering lowering their budgets.
Top priorities cited include:
- Purchase-Intent Targeting: 48%
- Paid Media and Advertising: 33%
- Trade Shows and Events: 22%
- Marketing Technology: 21%
- Outsourced Marketing: 19%
The biggest story here is the large-scale increase in Web content, user experience, customer engagement, and Web analytics – packed in here under the general category of purchase-intent.
These growth areas show that digital content is becoming far more pivotal to the B2B marketing mix. Strategic marketing leaders are diving deeper into the power of video content and custom on-demand Web articles to meet user needs throughout the entire buyer journey.
Let’s take a closer look at some growth drivers:
Paid Media Starts and Ends with Search
The major contributor to growth in B2B paid media is paid search, followed by paid social media on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This category continues to take big bites out of traditional paid media placements, especially in print.
Events Standing Tall in the B2B World
Events have lost ground in some B2B sectors, such as manufacturing, where they were once the predominant way to manage customer relationships. Still, they are generally seen as worth the effort. Gains in event marketing budgets generally reflect investments in related technologies.
External Agencies May Be Stagnating
External marketing and creative agencies are standing still or receding in many B2B sectors. This may reflect two issues: First, more B2B brands are gaining in-house marketing competence. Second, relatively few agencies have the skill and focus to provide true excellence in the B2B world.
B2B enterprises need to be on the lookout for the best ways to compete in fast-moving areas like SEO, social media, video marketing, and more. The majority will see superior results when they partner with an established agency that has a proven track record in B2B.
Still, all B2B companies should aspire to have the skills, tools, and vision to chart a course for their own marketing. That means understanding the overall competitive landscape and, most especially, your customers – so you can add value in ways that win customer loyalty.
B2B marketing will continue to become more competitive. With powerful AI marketing tools just around the corner, new challenges and new opportunities are emerging. Staying focused on customer pain points and how to address them will help firms of all sizes navigate a changing world.