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It’s not just B2C companies that recognize the need to focus on marketing. According to the 2019 State of IT Marketing report from Spiceworks, B2B companies are taking a different approach to marketing in the coming year.
For these B2B companies, 40% are planning on increasing their marketing budget in 2019, while only 8% will lower their budgets. Of those increasing their budgets, the majority are companies with fewer than 100 employees.
This uptick in spending signals a renewed effort to put marketing first and better engage with business audiences this year. Plus, the increased marketing spend is noted as offering a way to delve into some of the new marketing technology and address specific trends.
Of the B2B marketing budget spend, companies noted that a third would be put toward paid media, while 22% would go to trade shows and events, 21% on marketing technology investments, and 19% on assistance from marketing agencies or brand partners.
The largest increase in marketing spend is planned for technology investment in areas directed at content, experience, engagement, and analytics. By 2020, 48% of technology companies plan to use purchase-intent targeting to reach in-market buyers, focusing on generating leads and adding new customers.
Representing a variety of company sizes and marketing job titles, the survey highlighted an overall shift in thinking among B2B companies beyond just marketing spend.
One of the biggest changes is the growth in specific strategies. For example, 51% of these B2B companies noted they’ve used, or are planning on using, an account-based marketing strategy, while 49% are employing video marketing and 41% have enacted an on-demand content strategy.
By 2020, these adoption rates are expected to rise along with other technology-powered marketing trends. These include purchase-intent targeting and AI-enabled data analytics primarily with a slower adoption rate for tactics like chatbots and VR- or AR-based customer experiences.
One of the most significant differences that came to light in this research is the dramatic difference in marketing trend adoption rate tied to company size.. For example, larger enterprises are more likely to use programmatic ad buying, purchase-intent targeting, and chatbots.
Marketing Challenges Continue
However, the report did note some ongoing challenges that B2B companies face, including measuring the ROI of all marketing tactics. By investing in some of the emerging marketing technologies to create attribution models that guide decision-making, these B2B companies are intent on solving that measurement issue.
Other marketing challenges noted in the survey include driving conversions with marketing content and aligning their marketing and sales efforts.
An External Perspective
Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of Cision, was somewhat shocked by the results. “It’s surprising that only 37% of the companies said their marketing budgets will increase given how much marketing continues to be crucial to the overall ROI of an organization,” he said. Other surprises include the relatively low investment in paid media, which is aligned with driving lead generation and high ABM adoption rate.”
Akeroyd also questioned the extent that marketers are leveraging AI and machine learning. He noted that, in reality, the tech being touted as new and emerging is the same as what’s been used for the last decade.
Rather than slap the AI label on everything being introduced in marketing, Akeroyd suggests that marketers focus on the results they can produce with existing technology.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how these survey results play out in terms of actual investment and results as B2B marketers continue to navigate an ever-changing digital environment.
This article originally appeared on MediaPost.