For B2B marketers, there is much to learn from Internet marketing in 2013 and a lot to be excited about heading into 2014. It appears the largest shift next year is in how marketers plan to spend their budgets. There is also some news surrounding the use of mobile and social media marketing campaigns.
A look back on the challenges of last year
The biggest obstacle for marketers last year was tracking return on investment and bridging the skills gap, according to an infographic by Smart Insights. Of the 100 marketing leaders surveyed, 93 percent said that a lack of ROI makes it difficult to justify future investment. However, a lack of ROI proof may not mean that current campaigns aren't working, just that no one is analyzing them. Only 6 percent of respondents said they measure ROI all the time, a quarter measure it some of the time and 17 percent not at all. While it's pure conjecture, maybe that 6 percent is part of the 7 percent that did not cite ROI as a problem.
Regardless of the results, the only way to justify future investment in 2014 will certainly require that marketers measure the financial effectiveness of their campaigns more often. Some very successful techniques may have been dragged under the radar by other attempts that were poorly executed. Other admitted weaknesses came in the management of individuals, upward management and maximizing team performance.
How B2B will spend marketing dollars in 2014
The overall trends for budget increases and decreases in the coming year are not too surprising: online marketing and digital campaigns grab the top spot while traditional tactics continue to decline, according to a chart by MarketingSherpa. The largest increase in marketing budgets will be seen in content marketing, landing page optimization and website upgrades; a sure sign that marketers will continue to embrace their own websites as a key marketing tool. Here is how budget allocation lines up for other tactics:
- Content marketing: A whopping 64 percent of surveyed marketing directors plan to increase spending on content marketing and only 2 percent intend to decrease spending.
- Social media: Only very a small minority, 3 percent, intend to decrease budget allocations for social. More than half intend to spend more.
- Contextual advertising: The significant number here is that 71 percent plan to make no change, suggesting that budgets hit the mark in this category.
Not shocking at all, print advertising will see the largest decrease in budget allocation in the next year, with nearly 30 percent investing the money in other campaigns. Broadcast advertising was not far behind.
Social media should be graded on a curve in 2014
One big change that will take place for social is to remove its handicap when ranking it against other marketing techniques. According to an article on Business 2 Community, social media should not get a slide on metrics like ROI, clicks and impressions. While it's proven to raise engagement and influence scores, it's time to see if social can produce real dollars and be considered a big boy digital marketing tool. The article's author believes 2014 is the year that marketers will get it right. However, they point out that 2012 and 2013 were also predicted to be "the year of social."
Regardless of where budget allocation ends up and what tools you choose to embrace, the big lesson is to make sure seeking out returns. Budgets will just get more difficult to determine if there is not more information on what works, what fails and what's in between. Tools that increase awareness and engagement but don't drive consumers into the sales funnel should be reconsidered or tweaked.