As b-to-b marketers begin their budgeting process for 2014, they say the top areas where they'll increase spending are marketing automation technology, content marketing, social media and mobile.
“There are three areas at the topic level we'll be investing in: strategic marketing, local or country marketing, and marketing efficiency,” said Jonathan Becher, CMO at software company SAP.
SAP plans its budget on a rolling-quarter basis rather than on an annual basis, which means Becher is now budgeting for the fourth quarter and into the first quarter of next year. In terms of strategic marketing, which includes corporate marketing and branding, SAP will elevate its “The Best-run Businesses Run SAP” campaign.
“We will be taking how business runs SAP to how life runs SAP,” Becher said. “The next evolution is how SAP fits in your world, coming in 2014.” He declined to comment on the advertising budget, but said a key priority for SAP is involving more people in telling its story.
“A lot of our emphasis in 2014 will be on partner enablement—how do we increase the number of people telling our stories, from business partners to systems integrators to OEMs,” Becher said.
A key part of that effort will involve expanding SAP's content marketing and enabling technology, including marketing automation, content management and digital asset management systems, he said. SAP primarily uses its own technology for these areas, and Becher said it will continue to expand these systems globally next year.
Marketing automation is reaching maturity among b-to-b marketers, according to recent BtoB research, and it is expected to be an important investment area next year.
In BtoB's “2013 Marketing Automation” study, 81% of respondents said they will have strong or complete adoption of marketing automation systems by next year, up from 62% this year. Fifty-two percent said they will have complete adoption of marketing automation technology—fully integrating it into their sales and marketing organizations—up from 26% this year. The study was based on an online survey of 204 b-to-b marketers conducted in May.
Forty-two percent of respomdents said they would set aside new funds for marketing automation technology over the 12 months following. Others will shift funds from other areas, including digital marketing (34%), email or direct marketing (31%), events (18%), print advertising (16%) and broadcast advertising (4%).
“Our advertising next year will probably be relatively flat,” said Mark Wilson, CMO at Avaya Inc. “Some of the traditional advertising tactics will either be flat or down. There will be a continuation of moving to digital, and we'll probably take down events a little.”
Wilson said content marketing and social media will be top investment areas for Avaya next year. “I'm looking to put more money toward brand journalism and other aspects of content marketing,” he said. Avaya recently hired a journalist to write blogs and other content, and Wilson is looking to expand the company's internal communications team to focus more on content marketing.
“Just as you're driving brand messages out to the market, you need to drive these messages to your employees,” he said. “We have focused a lot on targeting the market, but now I'm challenging the marketing team to do that with internal communications, so the content is social, dynamic, relevant and gets people to realize they are part of this community.”
Wilson also plans to invest in more social media monitoring tools, as well as research into product development and customer needs.
“We'll put more money into competitive labs to understand competitively how our solutions compare with others. This allows us to debunk competitors' false claims and highlight our unique claims,” he said. “I'm also looking to increase the amount of investment we have in understanding the customers and creating stronger voice-of-the-customer as it infuses our products and marketing programs.”
Marketers will also increase their use of paid social media next year. According to BtoB's “Emerging Trends in B2B Social Marketing” report, published in March, the top paid social media channels marketers will use in the coming year are LinkedIn (59%), Facebook (53%), Twitter (28%), YouTube (18%) and Google+ (13%).
George Stenitzer, VP-communications at telecom equipment manufacturer Tellabs Inc., said he has not started the formal budgeting process but he has “two things on the top of my wish list.”
The first is mobile.
“We took a baby step with mobile this year,” he said. “We set up a new front end for smartphones on our website. In the first month, traffic was up 80-something percent. I think our next step is to design our website to be mobile-first and adopt responsive design. That is the plan for 2014.”
The second item on his wish list is expanding marketing automation technology to support a change to Tellabs' marketing structure, which now includes selling through distributors and value-added resellers.
Previously, Tellabs sold only through direct sales or to telecom service providers.
“It's going to make me relook at our marketing systems, including marketing automation technology, which is now with multiple distributors and partners,” Stenitzer said. “We have to have a way to tie them into one system.”
Stenitzer said another priority is expanding content used for marketing, such as blogs, which are written in-house or by agency partners.
“Some kinds of vehicles we probably won't use as much,” Stenitzer added. “We had been doing sponsored e-books to generate inquiries, but the quality of the inquiries doesn't really justify the cost. So we will probably do them on our own, or partner with companies in the same space, rather than paying a media company to do it for us.”