B2B merchants often find it challenging to select the best online marketing tactics, especially when working with a limited marketing budget. There are many to choose from: website design, email campaigns, search marketing, display, social media, etc. The 2011 MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook indicates search engine optimization and email marketing are among the top tactics for B2B merchants.
B2B marketers face tremendous challenges in today’s economy. Between improving the quality and quantity of leads, managing complex sales and meeting the sales team’s needs, it can be hard to allocate resources and develop a marketing strategy that gets the best results for your organization.
Today, marketers must deliver excellent results using limited resources. The economic situation has also created uncertainty for consumers, which makes the B2B buying cycle more complex.
Social media has empowered consumers by making information about products and services just one click away. This allows consumers to get information from their peers before they get it from advertisers. As a result, social media sites are influencing consumer purchasing decisions. A company’s brand is no longer defined only by its positioning statements and value propositions. Rather, brands are now being defined by the conversations consumers have about them on social media sites.
These profound changes increase the challenges for B2B marketers. As demonstrated in the chart below, MarketingSherpa found 11 percent of B2B marketing budgets are devoted to email, while 12 percent go to SEO. That places these two tactics ahead of others such as telemarketing, direct mail and public relations.
While email marketing is cost-effective, that doesn’t mean it comes cheap. Successful email marketing campaigns require expenses such as mailing list development, analytics know-how and content creation. Content creation is always a good investment as it can be repurposed on company blogs or social media sites, which gives merchants more mileage out of their email marketing dollars while boosting SEO and social media efforts.
The Marketing Sherpa study shows B2B firms are still indecisive when it comes to social media marketing as only 7 percent of budgets were allocated to social media in the study. However, as reported by BtoB Online, this finding does not coincide with results presented at the Business Development Institute’s B2B Social Communications Leadership Forum held in New York in June. That information indicated that social media usage increased significantly over the past two years, whereas only 52 percent of B2B firms used the platform in 2009, but nearly 90 percent do today.
B2B Marketing Budget Allocations
When examining the allocation of B2B marketing budgets, one question asked in the B2B Marketing Sherpa study was:
Approximately what percentage of your marketing budget is allocated to each of the following tactics – not including personnel?
As noted in the study, website design requires highly specialized skills, and these services can be costly. This is exemplified in the above chart, as website design, management and optimization represent a larger percentage of marketing budgets than any other tactic. Since this was also rated as the most effective tactic overall, B2B organizations all devote resources to it.
Trade show participation also requires a good number of significant expenses, including travel, booth rental, promoting booth traffic, etc. That means this tactic requires a good portion of the marketing budget for those B2B organizations that must participate in trade shows.
Email marketing is commonly thought to be cost effective; however, significant investments are required. Such expenses include list rental, email distribution programs, email deliverability services and list-building initiatives, not to mention content creation and testing.
We hope this gives B2B marketers an understanding of industry averages for the most effective B2B marketing tactics, including the average allocation of B2B marketing budgets. This information might be able to help you when evaluating your own needs and making important marketing decisions.