Budget allocation can make or break your marketing strategy. To help your organization put every cent to good use, I’ve pulled together some of the greatest studies and insights into how B2B businesses are allocating their budgets in 2015 and beyond.

These insights will help you discover which tactics are earning a stellar ROI (and which need to be ditched), uncover what your competition is doing, and work out the best way to allocate your B2B marketing budget.

Increase Your Marketing Budget

Before we get stuck in the nitty-gritty of budget allocation, we need to look at marketing budgets as a whole. Thankfully, it’s good news:

B2B businesses are continuing to increase their marketing budgets year over year.

45% of B2B companies planned to increase their overall marketing budget in 2012. In 2013, this figure shot-up to 54% of businesses, and last year, a full 60% planned to up their marketing spend. As we’re about to see, this trend has been largely fueled by an increasing adoption of digital marketing technologies and techniques, and content marketing in particular.

Make the Switch from Traditional to Digital

Alongside an increase in marketing spend, we’re also seeing a serious shift in the allocation of marketing budgets. Traditional marketing channels are rapidly losing ground to digital marketing; with print advertising, cold-calling, and direct mail losing out to content marketing, social media, and email.

In 2014, 71% of B2B businesses planned to increase digital marketing spend, compared to 20% planning to up their traditional marketing budget.

In the enterprise sector, this trend is just as pronounced. In 2014/2015, almost 70% of enterprise organizations anticipate an increase in marketing budgets above the rate of inflation, with a predicted average increase of 14%.

This shift has revealed some very obvious winners and losers, with content marketing the main benefactor of this shift in allocation. Given the correlation between content marketing spend and overall marketing efficacy, this should come as no surprise.

B2B marketers that rate their marketing strategies as effective invested an average of 37% of their budgets into content marketing. In contrast, marketers that viewed their activities as ineffective allocated just 16%.

Top Channel Increases (% of businesses increasing marketing spend)

  • Content Marketing, 74%
  • SEO, 63%
  • Mobile, 62%
  • Email, 60%
  • Social Media, 60%

Top Channel Decreases (% of businesses decreasing marketing spend)

  • Print Advertising, 31%
  • Direct Mail, 22%
  • Telemarketing, 20%
  • Online Display Ads, 15%
  • PPC, 14%

In the enterprise sector, 29% of organizations expect to decrease their traditional marketing budgets—compared to just 6% anticipating a cut to digital marketing. This trend is set to continue, with five-year predictions showing the ratio of digital to traditional spending shifting heavily towards digital marketing.

Ditch Paid, Owned, and Earned in Favor of Integrated Media

Before you begin gleefully slashing your traditional marketing budget, it’s important to understand why we’re seeing these changes.

The value of paid tools, like PPC and online display advertising, isn’t in their stand-alone ability to attract customers. They function best when used alongside owned and earned media assets, amplifying the benefits of content creation and social media channels. Though paid media is seeing its budget eroded by earned and owned media, businesses aren’t completely ditching traditional marketing tactics; they’re just changing how they deploy them. As Copyblogger’s Brian Clark explains:

2015 will continue a trend that has caught steam this year, which is mixing paid media with owned media to accelerate content distribution. The best ‘native’ advertising helps build an audience into a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.”

This integrated approach to marketing is increasing in popularity:

79% of businesses are looking to break down marketing silos in favor of a more coordinated marketing strategy.

Fuel Marketing Integration with Tech Investment

This transition towards fully integrated marketing is going to be aided by high levels of investment into marketing technology. Last year saw 70% of B2B businesses increase their investment in automation platforms and SaaS vendors, a rate which has held steady over recent years. Content-focused tools have seen a surge in interest, and CRM and analytics tools are still the most popular platforms for increased investment.

Top Marketing Platforms (% of businesses increasing investment)

  • CRM, 49%
  • Analytics, 47%,
  • Email, 40%
  • CMS, 40%
  • Content Optimization, 33%
  • Marketing Automation, 30%

Key Takeaways

B2B marketing budgets are rising year over year.

Budget allocation is shifting away from traditional marketing tactics and towards digital marketing.

Content marketing, SEO, mobile, and email are increasing their budget share.

Print advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, and PPC are losing ground.

There’s a correlation between increased content marketing spend and increased overall marketing efficacy.

Traditional marketing tactics are being repurposed, and deployed alongside owned and earned media strategies.

B2B businesses are upping investment in marketing tech, particularly CRM, marketing analysis, and content management.

Sources:

Marketing Budgets 2014, Econsultancy and Responsys

Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing, Econsultancy and Teradata

B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, Content Marketing Institute

B2B Enterprise Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, Content Marketing Institute

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Ryan Law

About Ryan Law

Ryan is a freelance B2B copywriter and professional coffee drinker. Read his content marketing musings over at Contender Content, and visit Iconsive for advice on all things inbound!