November 08, 2010

Steady budgeting and a priority on lead quality over quantity highlight the results of this year's Marketing Budget Trends white paper, an annual study of business-to-business marketing trends conducted jointly by Goldstein Group Communications and Hearst Business Media.

Those are two of the trends identified in the study, conducted during November, 2010. Survey authors said the survey respondents pointed to fewer dramatic changes in their approach, and more to 2011 activities that seek to take advantage of the changes put in place during the recent economic upheaval.

"The past few years have seen once-in-a-career shifts brought on by the global economic collapse and the emergence of new tools such as social media," said GGC President Joel Goldstein. "So it's not surprising that prior surveys reflected rather significant changes in marketing against this backdrop of uncertainty and new media. Now, though, based on opinions from those who responded, 2011 may just be a year of steadied progress rather than wholesale re-configuration of marketing. From steadier budgets to more uniform responses to questions about future initiatives, marketers seem to be in a mood to implement recent decisions rather than searching for new answers."

Survey highlights included a variety of key trends for 2011 marketers:

* B-to-b marketers expect consistency or improvements in budgets for 2011. When asked how spending would change next year, 44% reported no change to budgets, a full 11 points higher than a year ago. Continued recovery is still forecast by many, with 27% projecting an increase and just 6% pointing to budget decreases.

* The ratio of online-to-traditional spending settled in at 51% traditional to 49% online; two years ago, 60% of budgets were spent on traditional tactics such as literature/catalogs, direct mail, trade shows, print advertising, etc.

* Web development, online advertising and search engine marketing will consume 38% of budgets in 2011 and are the clear priority of decision-makers as they're crafting spending plans for the coming year. "Marketers seem to recognize that Google, Yahoo and Bing have become the front door for purchase decisions today, and that search engine presence is a key driver to getting their company's fair share of sales," Goldstein noted.

* Even in the face of complaints marketers hear about email fatigue, spending on email is predicted to maintain the same share of budget (7%) in 2011 that it occupied in 2010; 21% of marketers even plan to increase email spending in 2011.

* Quality trumped lead quantity in this year's survey, one of the more dramatic changes seen from last year. While last year the need for greater lead volume outpaced improvements in lead quality as a top priority, that order was reversed this year.

"Many marketers discuss the priority they place on lead generation, yet the bulk of their advertising spending remains centered on impressions or brand awareness buys," noted William Barron, VP Publishing Director, Hearst Electronics Group. "Vertical search engines, such as those offered to the electronics engineering industry via, exist to drive qualified leads to client sites. However, companies are still struggling with plotting the uninterrupted path from lead to order, something that's always been easier said than done."

The study was conducted via email during November, 2010 to a national database of marketing decision makers. Eighty-four people responded, ranging from CEOs (25%) to Marketing Communications (21%) to Marketing professionals (36%). Company revenues in the study were evenly distributed, with 16% reporting revenues above $151 million, 12% from $51-150 million, 26% from $11-50 million and the remainder less than $11 million.

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