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Budgeting for B2B Digital Marketing in 2017
In the bustling world of B2B, content marketing is more important than ever. In fact, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016. It safe to say that B2B marketing is a big deal, and it requires a healthy budget.
But before we delve any deeper in B2B marketing budgets, let’s consider something for a moment…
What is B2B content marketing?
Well, as the name suggests, B2B content marketing is the skill of leveraging content to expand your business’s reach, broaden its audience, strengthen and develop brand awareness, and ultimately drive leads and sales by appealing to other businesses. And in 2017, it’s vital.
Perhaps the biggest elements that sets B2B content marketing apart from B2C content marketing is the fact it that it’s something used exclusively by businesses, for businesses, meaning all content and marketing communications must be tailored to a corporate audience.
The key elements of solid B2B content marketing include:
- Focusing on well-defined targets
- Setting clear conversion goals
- Establish appropriate points of contact e.g. social media, email marketing, webinars, etc.
- Set a plan that can grow and expand to scale
- Creating content for each stage of the buying cycle
As with any form of content marketing, creating content that connects, engages and inspires your target audience is essential to success. In fact, studies suggest that social media content, case studies, and blog posts are among the most effective forms of content today, coming in at 93%, 82% and 81% respectively.
B2B digital marketing trends in 2017
Now, to understand more about B2B digital marketing budget allocation and where spending will yield the best return on investment (after all, you don’t want to throw your money into the abyss), it’s worth looking at B2B marketing trends for this year, and beyond. And here they are…
- The importance of marketing automation within the B2B sector will become bigger than ever before as new platforms emerge and managing them will be become an all-encompassing task. Almost 11 times more companies are using automation than in 2011, and this figure is set to rise in 2017.
- 88% of B2B marketers utilise content marketing as part of their daily promotional efforts. In 2017, the focus for less frequent but longer, more informative blog posts, articles, and whitepapers will become greater than ever as business consumers become savvier and demand more regarding value, as well as engagement.
- We will see far more channel integration this year when it comes to B2B marketing strategy. Rather than posting and branching out to business prospects through each marketing channel, B2B marketers will have to take an integrated nurturing approach to reap real dividends. Currently, the most effective lead generation channels according to some industry leaders are email marketing (45%), content marketing (45%), social media marketing (39%) and SEO plus landing page optimisation (38%).
- First pioneered by ITSMA more than 10 years ago, account-based marketing (ABM) will take off this year in the B2B sector. More than a singular sales or marketing approach, ABM is a collaborative strategy that brings sales, marketing, and delivery professionals together to meet a client’s personal needs. It’s an incredibly effective part of the B2B marketing pie and an area that should be nurtured by B2B marketers going forward.
B2B Content Marketing Trends 2017
As we’ve established, content marketing is one of the most critical elements of a successful B2B marketing campaign, In fact, 39% of B2B marketers will increase their content marketing spend within the next 12 months. What’s more, the total content marketing spend in the B2B sector is expected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by the end of this year. That’s a lot of profit’ a lot of profit indeed.
It’s safe to say that this year, a large amount of your B2B marketing budget will be dedicated to content marketing, so let’s take a quick look at the emerging trends of this most revered of promotional pursuits…
- Social media content, blogs, email newsletters and physical events will remain the most employed B2B content marketing tactics.
- Email and LinkedIn will continue to grab the top spot regarding the most efficient content distribution channels in B2B.
- Lead generation and website traffic will remain as the top goals in B2B content marketing.
- More companies will adopt content marketing than ever before.
- More companies will investment a greater level of time and effort to mature and evolve their content marketing efforts.
Now you know what’s hot in the world of B2B marketing, you’ll have a better idea of how to budget and where to focus your spending efforts. Of course, every business is different and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but by understanding what will work for you and your organisation, you’ll stand a better chance of squeezing maximum results out of every marketing penny.
Budgeting: B2B marketing budget percentage by industry
We’ve looked at where you should be focusing your budgeting efforts concerning strategy, now let’s have a look at B2B marketing spend by US industry, based on the percentage of overall funds spent on marketing according to sector…
- Consumer packaged goods: 24%
- Consumer services: 15%
- Tech software/biotech: 15%
- Communication/media: 13%
- Mining/construction: 13%
- Service consulting: 12%
- Education: 11%
- Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals: 10%
- Retail wholesale: 10%
- Banking/finance/insurance: 8%
- Transportation: 8%
- Manufacturing: 8%
- Energy: 4%
Now, in the UK, a recent study based on companies across a multitude of sectors, shows that 36% of the overall marketing budget is spent on content marketing, with 16% of companies spending up to 99% of their marketing budget on content marketing. A testament to the power and importance of delivering focused content to the right corporate audience.
Digital marketing budget allocation
How big should your B2B marketing budget be? Let us answer that with another question: how long’s a piece of string?
Now, while there may be no typical B2B marketing budget percentage as such, it is worth mentioning that you should allocate your funds according to the sector in which you operate, as well as the scale or size of your operation.
Your B2B marketing budget should be healthy as this will help you build brand awareness, forge valuable business connections, engage with the right audience, and ultimately, drive conversions.
According to a recent report from Forrester, companies making a profit of less than $25 million allocate around 13.9% of their overall revenue to marketing, while those making $26 -99 million set aside 6.1%.
According to a 2016 study, email marketing, organic SEO, content marketing and PPC were the most effective B2B marketing channels last year in terms of return on investment, as the chart shows…
It’s unclear exactly how much revenue UK companies make from their content marketing efforts, but it’s obvious that it’s becoming more vital to today’s British organisations, especially when you consider the fact that 71% of companies will increase content production over the next 12 months. Also, 81% of companies state that they will be focusing more on tracking ROI from their content marketing strategies this year and beyond.
As you can see, B2B marketing covers a broad spectrum and by spreading your budgets across the channels that are most effective to you and your business based on analytics and research, you’ll ensure success this year, and beyond.
As today’s business consumer is far more mobile-centric than in previous years, careful attention should also be paid to social media as if leveraged correctly, social platforms can prove very fruitful profit-making devices in the B2B universe. But which should you invest in this year?
Facebook is expected to remain top of the tree, with 90% of social media users networking on the platform. Also, Instagram is expected to grow from 32% penetration to 47% by 2020.
In addition to this, LinkedIn will continue to reign supreme in 2017 as 79% of B2B marketers view LinkedIn as an effective source for generating B2B leads. Also, SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram and Slideshare are all platforms B2B marketers should pay particular attention to in terms of time and money over the next 12 months.
“It’s fascinating how the fundamentals of business-to-business marketing are the same today as they were 50 years ago. It’s still about relationships although today we have new tools and techniques at our disposal.” – David Meerman Scott
B2B marketing is indeed about building relationships are nurturing bonds and by adopting a well-rounded strategy that has the ability to adapt and evolve over time, you will ensure success and longevity well into the future.
Your exact marketing spend will depend on you and the nature of your business but by doing you market research, taking advantage of the data available to you, setting your goals, and following the guide above, you’ll be able to paint a clear picture B2B marketing budget picture quicker than you think.
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Sources: Content Marketing Institute; CMI; Neil Patel; smart insights; Smart Insights; The Drum; The Content Marketing Institute; The Wall Street Journal; CMI; Business 2 Community; Web Strategies Inc; Capterra