money The data machine known as eMarketer published results from a recent Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and American Marketing Association (AMA) study. This "CMO Study" surveyed both B2B and B2C marketing executives to examine how they plan to change their budget allocation in the next 12 months as well as the next 5 years. 

The research results show that social media spending will be near 20 percent of marketing budgets in 2015 . This is up from 3.4 percent for B2B product companies and 6.5 percent for B2B services companies in February 2010. Throughout the study, another trend surfaced. In every measurement provided by eMarketer, B2B product marketers were several percent points less than B2B services companies and B2C companies with their investment in social media .

B2B Product Marketers Missing an Opportunity

While social media is often thought of as a consumer marketing medium, it is a more powerful opportunity for B2B marketers, especially those that sell products. Inbound marketing programs that include social media provide B2B product marketers with opportunities that simply didn't exist under previous business and marketing models.

5 Reasons B2B Product Marketers Should Increase Social Media Spending

1. Reduced Cost of Entry to New Markets -- An excuse often used by B2B product companies when dismissing social media is that they have a small set of customers and those customers do not use social media. Ignoring the fact that many of those customers likely do use social media, this points to a bigger opportunity. Because the cost of entry into a new market using social media can be so less than that of traditional marketing tactics, B2B product companies can take advantage of this opportunity to expand core markets in a way that was previously too costly.

2. Clearer ROI Reporting -- While the social web is about conversations, it thrives because of data. Online conversations and actions provide valuable data to those marketers who are willing to take the time to understand it. This data has never been more important than in the case of showing the connection between sales and marketing. The pressure from executives to show ROI for marketing dollars is mounting. Social media allows marketers to have data that provides clarity between marketing tactics and closed sales.

3. Real-Time Budget Adjustments -- The days of setting a marketing budget at the beginning of the year and spending it each quarter are over. Marketing budgeting needs to become an agile process. Budgets need to be able to be adjusted daily instead of annually. Social media combined with inbound marketing provides real-time results for marketing efforts. As marketers improve how they analyze these results, the marketing budget can become agile and shift resources to strategies and tactics that show the best ROI and lowest cost-per-lead.

4. Supports Other Inbound Marketing Efforts
-- Social media as a marketing platform does not stand alone; it needs to be a part of an integrated strategy to succeed. The converse of that statement is also true. Social media is an important side dish in an effective B2B product marketing strategy. Social media for example, supports offline marketing and networking at events like trade shows and bolsters online marketing tactics like organic search marketing.

5. Long Tail Content Supports Long Sales Cycles -- At HubSpot, we have talked before about the value of the long tail for marketing . B2B product marketers that have long sales cycles have much to gain from social media. The success of long sales cycles depends on improved positioning in the consideration set of prospects as well as continuous touch points through the entire sales process. Social media provides the content and the conversations to positively influence both of these important B2B product marketing needs.

Social media spending may be on the rise, but smart B2B product marketers will need to reexamine budget allocations in coming years to enable important changes in the way products are marketed.

Photo by borman818 via Flickr


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Originally published Mar 3, 2010 11:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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