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B2B Marketers Expect Bigger 2014 Budgets

NAPERVILLE, Ill., Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Business-to-business (B2B) firms expect marketing budgets to rise on average in 2014, with the majority of B2B firms entering the new year with a positive outlook after meeting or exceeding revenue goals last year. According to the Forrester Research/Business Marketing Association study "Focus B2B Marketing Budget Gains On Business Outcomes To Succeed In 2014," marketing executives expect budgets to increase by 6% on average, with a total of 32% of surveyed marketers expecting some budget increase this year. But despite this cautious optimism, many marketers still face ongoing pressure to justify their budgets: More than half of those surveyed said they feel challenged to connect marketing goals to business objectives in ways that defend budget requests, or find it difficult to attribute marketing activity directly to revenue results as another means to justify budgets.

"B2B budgets will continue to fragment moving into 2014 as new priorities gain importance," said Business Marketing Association Chairwoman Kathy Button Bell. "So while increased spending expectations equal good news for B2B marketers, many B2B CMOs will struggle to make dollars stretch while protecting program allocations. Specifically, we'll see CMOs trading off traditional ad dollars in favor of digital, investing in content marketing, and carrying on the love/hate relationship with trade shows and conferences."

Technology And Innovation Spend Will Strain Budgets Further

According to the study, technology, data analytics, and innovation will top the list of priorities CMOs must figure out how to fund in 2014 — focus areas that were barely on their radar a few years ago. Specifically, B2B CMOs will:

Place bigger bets on marketing technology. Sixty-one percent of surveyed marketing execs expect the ratio of technology spend to marketing program spend to increase and investment to be more than the current 3% earmarked for IT support and development.

Beef up spending on data analytics. B2B marketers see the advantage of using data to drive deeper insight across the customer life cycle, with 25% planning to increase spending from the 1% currently allocated here.

Struggle to squeeze out a few bucks for innovation. Marketers will only dedicate 3% of overall marketing budgets to experimentation, with more than 25% neglecting to formally set budget aside for it at all.

Marketing Plans Must Prioritize Customer Engagement

In the age of the customer, B2B marketers must strive to evolve their charter from brand steward and lead generator to custodian of long-term customer relationships. According to the study, marketers will do this by prioritizing a shortlist of tactics surrounding customer engagement — such as local events, thought leadership, videos, and B2B communities.

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