The B2B Barometer explores economic confidence and spending patterns amongst B2B marketers.  Launched 5 years ago in 2009 and now representing the view of B2B marketers with a collective spend of £95 million, it is the industry’s state-of-the-nation study.  I’d like to share a few of the study’s key findings here.

The B2B Barometer is published by Circle Research, the BMC and the IDM.  The full report can be downloaded free-of-charge here.

B2B marketing budgets at an all-time high

The latest wave of the B2B Barometer suggests that the money trees are blossoming in the land of B2B marketing:

  • 56% have seen their marketing budget grow in the last 12 months (the highest level since the Barometer started in Q2 2009)
  • The average budget increase is 19%, and 1 in 10 report a growth of over 50%

And the outlook remains rosy – 87% expect their company’s revenue to grow over the coming 12 months (which bodes well for next year’s round of budgets).


B2B budgets

Events, email and web dominate spend

When asked where they plan to spend their budget over the coming 12 months, three channels look set to receive around half of marketers’ spend:

  • Events top the list with the average marketer planning to spend 15% of their budget on trade shows
  • Email follows a close second, receiving 12% of budget
  • Website development is set to receive an average of 10%, with the related area of SEO/PPC on 8%


b2b marketing channel share


These are the headline facts, but if we look deeper into spending three interesting patterns emerge.

First, the long anticipated dominance of digital channels still isn’t here.  In Q1 2014, 39% of marketing spend was on digital.  Guess what it was five years ago in Q2 2009?  Yup, 39%.  So let’s ditch the whole ‘digital versus traditional’ debate – marketers, quite rightly, use an integrated multi-channel approach.


b2b digital spend

Second, direct sales and telemarketing are ‘all-or-nothing’ channels.  Only one third (34%) use direct sales, but if they do it receives 21% of budget.  Likewise, just only one fifth (21%) use telemarketing, but they spend 12% of budget on it.

b2b channel share

Third, content creation and social media are the fastest growing areas of spend.  A net of 50% report greater investment in content, and 45% do the same for social media.  And this is growth from a low base suggesting there’s more to come – content creation receives just 7% of spend even after this increase and social media receives 5%.

spend change

Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B research services here.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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