Marketers show robust optimism

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Marketers plan to markedly increase spending this year, with a heavy emphasis on digital channels, according to a new study by BtoB, which presented findings along with marketer reaction during a webcast last week. The report, “Outlook 2013: Marketing Priorities & Plans,” found that 49% of respondents expected to spend more this year, up from 40% in 2012. Only 10% said they planned to cut their budgets. “Marketers are optimistic about their budgets for 2013; in fact, this year's budget increases will be about the same as the 2011 rebound year,” said John DiStefano, BtoB research director and a webcast panelist. BtoB's study was based on an online poll conducted in November that drew 366 b-to-b marketer respondents. Digital marketing will gain the most, with 67% of respondents planning to increase spending in this area. Other areas projected to see increases include social marketing (cited by 54%), events (42%), mobile (35%), direct mail (35%) and telemarketing (22%). Marketers said they planned to cut budgets for print, radio, outdoor and TV. “The evolution of the b-to-b purchasing process in today's digital setting is a hot topic,” DiStefano said. “The effects of media fragmentation and the economic pressures on marketing have forever changed the nature of the purchasing process.” Website development is the No. 1 digital marketing area of emphasis this year, with 70% of marketers planning to boost spending. Other channels gaining dollars include: email (62%), social media (56%), video (56%), search (53%), webcasts and virtual events (42%), and mobile (36%). “We'll use business cable, print and online as the foundation,” said webcast panelist Jamie DePeau, CMO at Lincoln Financial Group. “We are shifting more online this year, using more thought leadership and less lifestyle messaging.” The use of content marketing is pervasive, cited by 72% of respondents. DePeau said Lincoln Financial will invest heavily in surveys and studies, and use this content to position its employees as prominent thought leaders. Webcast panelist John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing at IBM Corp., said his company will also focus on content marketing this year, as well as continuing to showcase employees in marketing efforts. “We do business through our people, showing that IBMers are an important part of our programs,” Kennedy said. Paid partnerships with social sites have become a significant part of IBM's outreach. Kennedy cited the company's relationship with Tumblr on a project called IBMblr that highlights news about the company's patents. “That's become a way to drive engagement with the brand and create content that's sharable through external networks,” he said. B-to-b marketers are not particularly enthusiastic about leveraging the rapid proliferation of mobile devices, with just 33% of respondents indicating that mobile advertising will be part of their marketing strategy this year. And even within this group, the channel doesn't rate all that highly, as 68% said they're not placing a strong emphasis on mobile advertising this year. The BtoB study was also the focus of the Business Marketing Association-New York City's annual BtoB Outlook Breakfast on Jan. 22. Linda Boff, executive director-global digital marketing at General Electric Co. and a panelist at the BMA-New York event, said mobile is “probably at the top of GE's marketing list,” although not for advertising. She said GE is emphasizing instead mobile technology as a useful tool. She cited the company's Genius app for sales reps, and its myEngine app for customers of its jet engine technology. “With mobile, you don't want to pitch your product with a banner ad but, rather, solve a problem,” she said. BMA panelist Geoff Ramsey, chairman and co-founder of consultancy eMarketer, urged marketers to thoroughly integrate social media within their companies, focusing on their most loyal customers. “Double-down on these people, and find them via social,” Ramsey said. “You want to nurture them. Why? Because they expect it. You'll make them even more loyal, and they'll tell others. That is how you grow your core.” Demand generation and customer acquisition were cited by 69% of respondents to BtoB's survey as their primary marketing emphasis this year, followed by brand awareness (18%) and customer retention (13%). Also, more than half of marketers plan to allocate portions of their budgets to marketing automation and sales enablement technologies. To obtain BtoB's “Outlook 2013: Marketing Priorities & Plans” study, click here.
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