More than half of b-to-b marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets this year, with the average budget increasing by 6%, according to a new report by Forrester Research.
The report, "Direct Your 2015 B2B Budget Gains Toward Creating Exceptional Customer Experiences," was based on a survey of 132 b-to-b marketers, conducted in the fourth quarter. It found that 51% of marketers plan to increase budgets this year, 30% plan to keep budgets flat, while 8% plan to decrease budgets.
Last year, when Forrester conducted a similar study, only 32% of b-to-b marketers expected to raise their marketing budgets, 45% planned to keep budgets flat, and 22% said they planned to cut their marketing budgets.
"It's most likely the result of a better economy," said Laura Ramos, VP-principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report.
Of those marketers increasing budgets, 12% will increase budgets by 10% or more; 15% will increase them by between 5% and 9%; and 24% will increase them by between 0% and 5%. On average, marketing budgets will make up 7% of revenue, compared with last year's average of only 4%, Forrester found.
Marketing programs receiving the biggest chunk of the budget are in-person events (14%), followed by digital marketing (10%) and content marketing (9%).
"The No. 1 item is in-person events, tradeshows, conferences and seminars -- that is a pattern that has been consistent since 2008," Ms. Ramos said.
However, while events remained the top item in terms of budget allocation, the share declined this year compared with last year. In last year's report, in-person events received 20% of the marketing budget, digital advertising and marketing received 13%, and content marketing received 12%.
Within digital marketing, b-to-b marketers' top priorities are content marketing (68%), social media marketing (45%), brand and website (36%) and email marketing (36%). Surprisingly, 45% of b-to-b marketers said they are "still experimenting" with digital marketing.
The top three challenges for to b-to-b marketers when determining budgets are attributing spend to revenue results (45%), securing incremental budget for experimentation and innovation (38%), and justifying proposed marketing budgets to senior management (34%), the report found.