The slumping economy has had a drastic impact on b-to-b marketers and their budgets, although they are optimistic about a recovery beginning in the first half of this year, according to a new study from Google and research firm OTX.
The study, “ThinkB2B,” was based on an online survey of 637 b-to-b marketers conducted in October. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said the down economy had affected their business, and 59% cut their marketing budgets last year as a result.
However, 63% said they expect the economy to begin to recover in the first or second quarter of this year, and 36% plan to boost their marketing budgets this year.
The results align closely with BtoB's “2010 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans” report, which found that 58% of b-to-b marketers cut their budgets last year in response to the economy, and 39% plan to increase marketing budgets this year. BtoB's study was based on an online survey of 376 b-to-b marketers, conducted in late October and early November.
“There is some cautious optimism optimism among b-to-b advertisers,” said Sam Sebastian, director of Google's b-to-b practice.
“What we've seen from a lot of our advertisers in the last eight to nine months is a flight to quality—more lead-gen and direct response programs. We did see a dip in ad spending from some of our "less-mature' clients. Some of the big, traditional players are not quite as informed on all of the digital programs.”
Google's study looked at how advertisers are using different media platforms to achieve specific marketing goals.
For branding, the top media programs are outdoor ads (81%), sponsorships (78%), TV advertising (78%), PR (77%), print advertising (73%) and online banners/rich-media ads (72%).
For acquisition, the top programs are inside sales/telemarketing (83%), industry events (80%), search (80%), webinars/podcasts/online events (77%), direct mail (75%) and e-mail marketing (75%).
For retention, the top tactics are e-mail marketing (61%), webinars/ podcasts/online events (59%), direct mail (58%), TV advertising (53%), company Web sites (52%) and industry events (50%).
Google also asked b-to-b marketers where they will increase and decrease their marketing budgets this year.
The top areas that will see increases are Web site development (cited by 57% of respondents), search (55%), webinars, podcasts and online events (50%), e-mail marketing (49%), social networks (47%) and blogs (44%).
Areas that will see budget cuts include print advertising (51%), printed vertical directories (50%), direct mail (37%), outdoor (34%), TV advertising (31%), sponsorships (30%) and events (28%).
However, while budgets are increasing for digital marketing, there are still barriers to investing in online, the study found. Foremost are lack of resources (cited by 55% of respondents), the unproven value in some marketers' industries (25%) and lack of executive support (25%).