Despite continued uncertainty about the economy, nearly half of b2b marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets this year, according to BtoB's "2013 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans" special report.
The annual report, now in its 10th year, was based on an online survey of 366 b2b marketers, conducted between Nov. 12 and Nov. 30.
It found that 48.7% of marketers plan to increase their budgets this year, up from 40.1% last year; 41.8% will hold budgets flat, down from 48.4%; and 9.5% will decrease budgets, down from 10.8%.
The top marketing goal for b2b marketers this year is demand generation/customer acquisition (69.3%), followed by brand awareness (17.6%) and customer retention (13.1%).
"We continue to really spread our money around," said Tom Haas, CMO at Siemens Corp. "We feel there is value in all media, whether it's out-of-home, digital, television or print. That said, we'll probably be focusing more on digital. We really want to expand our mobile and social media platforms, and make sure they're integrated into everything else we're doing."
According to the Outlook survey, 67.2% of marketers plan to increase their spending on digital marketing this year. Within digital marketing, the top spending areas will be website development (with 70.1% of marketers planning increases this year), email marketing (61.9%), social media (56.0%), online video (55.8%) and search (52.5%).
Mobile is also growing in importance for b2b marketers, with 32.7% of respondents now using mobile as part of their marketing strategy, and 35.5% planning to increase their spending on mobile marketing this year.
"Our biggest investment for b2b will be in mobile," said Rishi Dave, executive director-digital marketing at Dell Inc. "We have increasingly found that our customers want to consume content—which is the center of b2b marketing—in multiple formats beyond just the computer, whether it's tablets or phones or some other way, and they want to get that content streaming. So we will be investing a lot in how we get that content to our customers in whatever format they want it."
Other marketers are still waiting for mobile to take off among their customer base before making a big investment in the platform.
"Only 3% of the traffic on our website comes from mobile devices," said George Stenitzer, VP-communications at telecommunications equipment manufacturer Tellabs Inc. "We have a good, steady iPad app, and we have made some changes to our home page that make it more friendly to a tablet, but most of our customers are interacting through their laptops or desktop computers."
Stenitzer, whose marketing budget will be down this year, said his two biggest spending areas will be content marketing—primarily through social media—and events.
"Our big trade show is Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but we've cut some smaller shows—the little trade shows where you go and do a tabletop. We are being more selective about how many of those we go to," he said.
Stenitzer also said Tellabs will not do much print advertising beyond a 16-page insert in trade magazines including Global Telecoms Business and Total Telecom.
Many b2b marketers still see events as a key part of their marketing mix. According to the Outlook survey, 41.5% will boost their event budgets this year.
"We still have a trade show presence in the major verticals we're in," said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions, pointing to the retail and public safety verticals. "We're doing more experiential marketing. At one public safety show, we laid out a city in our booth, tied into our 'Safer Cities' campaign. So the booth became the customer environment and showcased Motorola solutions."
Motorola Solutions' marketing budget will be flat this year, Conrado said.
"Our mix is not shifting much," he said. "We are optimizing the owned component so the paid component is more relevant and, ultimately, users will end up on one of our owned properties."
Conrado also said Motorola will be investing in sales enablement and marketing automation systems to provide better alignment between marketing and sales.
According to the Outlook survey, 52.3% of marketers plan to invest in sales enablement platforms this year, and 50.8% will invest in marketing automation systems.
"We're not only focusing on outbound and sales enablement, but inbound customer marketing will be a key area of focus," Conrado said. "We're seeing traffic to our digital properties increase around the world—not only from computers, but from tablets and mobile devices. We need to identity who [users] are and which vertical they're in, and make sure we serve up the right information. This involves analytics and personalizing content."
The Outlook survey found that 72.2% of b2b marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. The top content marketing platforms are: websites (93.0%), social media (65.4%), print (47.5%) and mobile (20.9%).
John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing at IBM Corp., said, "The key things we will be investing in are analytics, owned media and owned assets—typically more digital. We are evolving our marketing to the ways in which our customers are consuming information. As a result of digital and new ways of organizing information, marketers are finding really creative ways of doing more with what spend they have."
Kennedy said IBM will continue its "Smarter Planet" advertising campaign this year, using a mix of media including TV, print and online.
"All of our marketing priorities are grounded in the point of view that the world is becoming more interconnected and intelligent," he said. "Our customers and our customers' customers are living in a world that is highly digitized and infused with data. As a result, the nature of marketing is changing so much and is having a big influence on our business. More data and analytics are needed to make sense of that. We think these are priorities a lot of marketers are sharing."
Learn More:BtoB Outlook 2013 Webcast: Jan. 29, 3013, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, Register now
Purchase the research charts and tables.