In our strategy practice, Optimize, we work with many business-to-business (B2B) companies who do not see value in digital marketing. They rationalize that leveraging digital assets- social media in particular- does not influence buying decisions.

A percentage of this group may be judging online success through a dated paradigm. For some businesses, success on the Internet is more about influence than conversion.

B2B marketing spending is on the rise, reflecting the lower cost of leveraging digital assets as a tool to drive sales productivity. Yet only 36.7% of companies report that they can quantitatively measure the impact of marketing on their business. This highlights that many still struggle in measuring return on marketing investment (ROMI).

I believe failure to have a digital strategy, even in a stodgy B2B professional procurement environment, is short-sighted. Over 50% of professional procurement employees are Millennials. It is said that Boomers want to meet you to learn about your product, and Millennials want to read about you on the Internet.

Popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram may be more appropriate for B2C than B2B. However, we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Today’s content can be imbedded in CRM systems, which salespeople can use to create more touch points and improve productivity. Contemporary marketing automation tools allow for more targeted information that addresses specific audiences, through drip campaigns and the like.

I speak from experience. I have built a successful firm using thought leadership as a vehicle to be credible. Content including blogs, white papers, case studies and testimonials position thought leaders as experts and drive traffic to their websites.

Evidently, I am not alone. A CMO Survey published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University reveals that companies plan to spend over 13% more on digital marketing in the next year, and nearly 7% more on marketing overall.

Other trends include:

  • Mobile marketing spending will increase by 160% over the next three years
  • Companies project a 10% increase in digital marketing spending during the next 12 months
  • Companies plan to spend 3.2% less on traditional advertising during 2016 than last year
  • On average, 7.1% of spending will be on CRM, up from 6% last year

Clearly, companies are shifting their budgets to a blended, omni-channel marketing strategy. Traditional approaches are giving way to lower-cost methods for acquiring customers. And, digital marketing has a role in supplementing sales activities and driving awareness about brands and capabilities.

In considering marketing spend, companies should:

  • Ensure sales and marketing is listed on multiple lines on the P&L, so true costs are not masked or distorted
  • Ensure adequate spending for digital assets, including an annual refresh of your website (including dynamic design that reconfigures on every device)
  • Ensure that you have content including testimonials, white papers and case studies to support your positon. Video has emerged as a cheap method for educating customers and prospects
  • Ensure that if a CRM is not utilized, the company’s customer information (which represents its intellectual property) is stored and protected
  • Develop a sales scorecard including important measures such as new customer sales, acquisition costs, etc. (see below).

When building a marketing plan and corresponding marketing budget, every company must consider these vital questions:

  • How does our sales and marketing strategy align with our business goals?
  • How will marketing and sales work together to create synergy and economic value?
  • What is an acceptable return on investment?
  • How much should our marketing budget be?
  • Where and how should the money be allocated?

If you are a Boomer who does not embrace technology, you might consider the possibility that the world has changed. You might even be dead wrong about digital marketing.