Marketing executives, for yet another quarter, reported an upward revision to their marketing budgets for Q1 2015, representing continued growth over the last two and a half years.
A significantÂ 27% of the panel reported this upward revision. However some companies did report a downward revision to budgets, so the net balance was 11.8%, up by almost double on Q4 2014â€™s figure. Overall growth for the year was the best recorded since 2004/2005. This reflects a general trend that we see across our customers, although with this growth come some changes in what spend is focused on, compared to previous growth periods before the recession.
So where are marketers spending?
Marketers continue to spend and invest in internet based marketing and direct marketing. This supports the established trend of lead generation remaining a number one focus for B2B companies. Both these areas of marketing are consistently showing an increase in spending. As with Q4 2014, internet based marketing remains the Best Performing Category in the survey. In comparison to the original budget set for internet spend, marketers actually increase their budgets part way through the financial year. This is interesting, because it likely shows that results are good from this type of activity. Again, we this is consistent with what we’ve seen across our customers, with high quality b2b content marketing generating significant results. What’s crucial is that this doesn’t just include awareness and social interaction, we are seeing solid lead generation from online content.
The runner up, as with Q4 2014, was events, an area where spend moderately increased. 22% of respondents reported upwardly revising their budgets. This represents a 5.7% net increase in comparison Q1 2014. It’s good to see this climbing again, as while online is important, linking it with face to face connections is crucial in supporting the sales process and continuing to build credibility on the back of your b2b content marketing.
Bringing up the rear, but by no means a lowÂ performance, was direct marketing. Budgets were increased, showing a net increase of 5.5%, spend in this area has now been increasing quarter on quarter since Q3 2010. This supports our report last week on the growth of email marketing, and the growth in content marketing is likely to be a contributing factor in this growth.
So how can you maximise your internet spend?
Blogs – Writing a blog and posting on your website, and then promoting the content online isÂ an effectiveÂ use of your internet spend. The content should be focused on your audience’s challenges, and should be interesting and engaging. Blogs work well when optimised for SEO, and are a great tool for driving people to your website. If you want people to share your content, think about generating an emotion such as happiness, sadness or intrigue as these are proven to tap into the human need to share.
- Interesting content is one of the Top 3 reasons people follow brands on social media.
- 70% of consumers learn more about a company through articles than adverts.
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads.
Posting your content to social media sites using Buffer or a similar tool, means you post it once and Buffer does the sharing and distribution forÂ you. You can time your posts for a specific day, and reporting is managed in one place. We like Buffer because it’s so simple to use and manage, it’s a good first step into more complex social media management.
Targeted emails – Targeted content based on consumer preferences is proven to generate more leads than blanket emails, the more insight and data you have on your audience, the easier this is. Sending more campaigns, but to smaller audiences, is proven to improve campaign results.
- 58% of revenue is derived from segmented/targeted email campaigns.
- Companies tend to segment their data by audience, customer life cycle stages and subscriber preferences.
- Currently 43% of companies segment up to 6 or so criteria.
LinkedIn – Try a LinkedIn advertising campaign.
- LinkedIn has a staggering 347 million users – thatâ€™s some potential audience, but the beauty of LinkedIn is that it let’s you heavily segment your promoted content.
- Campaigns are easy to manage, and you can target users based on your own criteria – seniority, industry, turnover etc.
- 65% of B2B companies have acquired a customer by using LinkedIn and its advertising features (in fact we ran a campaign for one of our customers only recently and had a solidÂ lead before the week was out).
- You are in control – you set our own budget, so no spiralling costs or surprises.
Outlook for 2015.
Generally, the outlook is, again, upbeat. Marketers reported feeling more confident in both their personal, company related and general wider financial outlook. The net balance rose from 16.2% in Q4 2014 to 26% during Q1 2015. Overall marketing budgets are up by 27%. 21.8% of companies reported an increase in growth for the year 2014/2015, in comparison to an increase of 19.9% for the year 2013/2014.
With the general outlook remaining upbeat, now is a great time to maximise the return on your investment in online tools.Â Key to feeding this is great content, insight and creativity ensure you’ll stay on track.
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