Archive for the ‘Budget’ Tag

2014 B2B Marketing budgets set to rise

Forrester Research has released it’s latest survey results on the state of B2B Marketing budgets. Good news is that the investment in marketing is expected to rise 6% this year. Bad news is that, after the recession, it still only gets budgets back up to 4% of company revenues. Pre-recession levels were often cited at 7% or higher. So still some ground to make up.

Forrester notes an increase in spending particularly on technology (read as marketing automation). In order to justify the higher budgets, marketeers are having to prove return on investment. I’m surprised it is taking this long to get there. I remember being pressed for numbers and ROI at least ten years ago. And that was when the marketing automation platforms weren’t as robust as they are today!

B2B 2014 Marketing budget investments

Source: Forrester Research

One other item from this report – how people expect to use their marketing budgets. Here’s a nice pie chart with a breakout of the responses. It is interesting to see how, with all the noise around digital, email and inbound, in-person events remains a very significant piece of the pie. Guess that shows that there is no substitute for face-to-face!

Here at Mercury Systems, our fiscal year runs June through July. I’ll be interested in taking our FY15 budget and seeing how we match up to the rest of the industry – in both size of budget and how we invest it.


More on Content Marketing

You can’t look at any major marketing magazine, blog or website without seeing some talk about Content Marketing. Content creation takes up a good chunk of my time and I’m always interested in best practices and research findings.

Here’s a smattering of recent articles I found particularly interesting:

Here’s one of the charts I really liked from the Eloqua blog:

content marketing statistics

I’m sure we will continue to see content marketing as a discipline evolve and expand as we move into 2013 and beyond.

Metrics – Again

It seems to be all the rave to be talking metrics and marketing. In my opinion, if you are just starting to do this, you are 8 laps behind in a 6 lap race.

Thank God I have a really good Marketing Operations person who knows our marketing automation and CRM system inside and out. I can get my marketing BI questions answered almost all the time. The only issues I run into tend to be “not being able to generate that specific report” or not being able to automate the report. Right now, the latter is more of an issue.

I can get information in intimate detail but it takes my colleague easily a day to pull it all out and format it. But I love the info. I can look at what I call micro-metrics (not stuff I necessarily report to management but use for my benefit):

  • number of leads by account manager (our term for sales rep)
  • number of new contacts we’ve added for each persona – we’re trying to grow certain high-value targets so this is important
  • organic database growth
  • what each marketing campaign delivered – MQLs, SALs, revenue opportunities, etc.

And so much more. It’s great to see, especially since I may be getting a new boss soon! I know I’d want to see that I have a team that knows what works and what doesn’t.


ROI and Marketing’s Best Blogs

I read the Editor’s Notes of the November issue of Target Marketing magazine with interest. What first caught my interest was the DATA BYTES sidebar. Pulling from IBM’s interviews with 1,734 CMOs, it highlights the increasing focus on return on (marketing) investment.

This is something I’ve pushed for the past 10+ years at the firms I’ve worked for. Too many times, I’ve been at companies where they see marketing as a “spend” as opposed to an investment. And marketing is to blame for that. If you never prove what you do drives revenue and results, then you will be viewed as a “spend.” As a result, you are among the first for cuts to budget when times get tough. Marketing leaders need to be know more than marketing. They need to understand business.

The primary part of the Editor’s Note was on the new feature they are developing – Marketing’s Best Blogs. Looks promising. And maybe some of you readers with blogs should consider contributing. You’ve got some good ideas out there!

Defense department as an example

There is no doubt about it. Our American economy has gone through hell. Most, if not all, has been brought on by our own bad habits. And now we need to return to our roots – a people who care about each other and don’t spend beyond our means.

Our political climate is nasty, at best. There seems to be little interest in caring for America. More important seems to be getting re-elected or, even worse, face time on Fox “news” or any of those other venues of pure crap. And all of this at a time when our country really could use some leaders and help.

We have a huge budget deficit. And the Defense Department, under Secretary Gates, is one (if not the only) group that is tackling finances in an intelligent way. They have stepped forward to take responsibility for their spending. And, they are fighting Congress when needed. Several Congressmen (Republicans) don’t want to cut the spending that the Pentagon sees as not needed. Go figure.

Anyway, I hope the rest of our government can replicate the example of the Defense Department.

Lead generation vs lead nuturing

For over ten years now, I’ve been a high tech B2B marketing manager responsible for both lead generation and lead nurturing – primarily because I am responsible for delivering revenue. However, during a recent webinar (“Driving Demand in the Demand Center” put on by BtoB Magazine and featuring speakers from SiriusDecisions and Eloqua; check out #BtoBWC on Twitter), one comment caught my attention and got me thinking. It was suggested that you have one person focus on lead gen and one on lead nurturing.

I don’t think you can really do this until your organization reaches a certain size but this structure does appeal to me. I know I (along with my colleagues) struggle with the time needed to develop and implement campaigns for both lead gen and nurturing. And the needs are different. With lead gen, you are investing budget, educating prospects, filling the funnel, qualifying leads and passing them to sales. With lead nurturing, you already have qualified leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet so you need different content and marketing techniques to keep them engaged until they enter the buying cycle.

Lead nurturing is critical to driving a much higher marketing ROI. You already have invested budget in getting these leads into your system. Often, they have cleared all the requirements you have to be qualified sales leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet (maybe no budget; maybe need to get management on board; etc.).  So you need different content and activities to keep them engaged and interested in you. Also, lead nurturing can be used for cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to existing customers. Again, this is another way to drive revenue with a much smaller budget than is needed for initial lead gen.

Anyway, I’d be interested in what others think about these two areas for marketing and how they handle them. Please feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at with your thoughts!

Have one person focus on lead gen and one person focus on lead nurturing

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing II

A while back, I wrote about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” marketing thing.  I still don’t get this “us vs. them” argument that many marketers are spouting. In fact, the division really is just a way of categorizing marketing techniques. Yes, I agree, “inbound” methods tend to cost MUCH less (especially if you are doing print or direct mail initiatives). And for that reason, over the last five years, my marketing budgets tended to include fewer “traditional, outbound” marketing techniques. But I still did (and do) outbound marketing – especially when it makes sense for the target market I’m going after. For example, you can’t reach many C-level people through email as they have an admin who filters it.

For me, this whole inbound/outbound argument is irrelevant. It’s a continuum. As a marketer, you want as many arrows in your quiver as you can get. For some targets, direct mail still works. Print ads can help you with awareness and thought leadership. Social media can create powerful communities. In fact, if done correctly, any of these outlets can be used for community building, awareness, education and thought leadership, lead generation, etc. As a marketer, your job is to decide what your goals are and then figure out which methods are best to reach your target audience and deliver the results you need.

Recently, I listened to a webinar put on by BtoB Magazing (#BtoBWC for you Twitters) that included SiriusDecisions and Eloqua as presenters. It was a very good webinar, by the way, and I have immense respect for both organizations. But one comment that I noted was that many more people were coming through the web than ever before due to inbound marketing. I agree that almost every marketer is leveraging the web to the max – primarily due to limited budgets. But to ascribe all web visitors to “inbound” marketing is wrong. I often used outbound methods (email in particular, print and banner ads, trade shows and direct mail) to DRIVE people to a landing page. And many times, you can’t track it despite your best efforts.

I use integrated, multi-faceted campaigns to meet my needs. For example, in a recent campaign when my goal was to get software developers to download our SDK and kick the tires (and become a sales qualified lead), I negotiated with the vendors and got several print ads for almost free. Ends up that many magazines are hurting for ads and will give you a good deal if you are doing several things with them. So I took advantage of the print ads to build awareness of my firm and our offering (I did have a call to action to visit our landing page just in case), followed up with a couple of staggered emails to the readership promoting various things (whitepapers, video tutorials, webinars, the download) and even worked in a conference or two. My thought was to “soften” up the audience first with the print and emails to make them more receptive to our message. And it worked.

So I think you need to evaluate every arrow you have in your quiver, figure out the ROI based on your goals and then put together your plan. And don’t worry about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” thing.

B2B Magazine Survey

Recently, published the results of a survey they did with B2B Magazine on B2B Marketing Skills. Here’s a link to their results pdf.

To quote from their purpose statement:

“How do today’s marketers see themselves and their evolving role in the enterprise? The purpose of the joint Genius and BtoB Magazine Marketer Skills Survey is to bring these answers into focus so we can gain a better understanding of how these drivers are shaping today’s Connected Marketer.”

I’ll likely tackle other parts of their survey but want to address their first question here.

Finding #1:

“Overwhelmingly marketers indicated that success is today’s environment is gauged by revenue.”

Ok. The surprise to me here is that it has taken until 2010 and a recession for many firms to tie marketing to revenue (or at least attempt to). A marketing budget is an INVESTMENT of organizational funds. As with any investment, there should be a return or you shouldn’t be doing it.

Digging into some of the details of this finding, here’s the question and responses:

Obviously, this was not a mutually exclusive question. However, the problem I have with this question is that each of these measures is important – just in different ways. For example, click-thru rates are very good at measuring the effectiveness of a banner ad or an email.  If the click-thru rate is low, so will the revenue. I’ve written about metrics before ( and but want to dive a little deeper here.

This is why I look at metrics on a tiered level. Let’s take an example. Typically, I’m running several campaigns simultaneously. I define a campaign as a set of activities designed to drive qualified leads to the sales team and result in revenue. Most often, a campaign is around a single product, bundle, service offering, etc.  Hence, if you have several offerings, you likely will have many campaigns going on simultaneously.

For this campaign, I will reach out to prospects via:

  • Email to a purchased list
  • Banner ad placed on 3 different web sites

Both of these activities will drive people to a landing page where I have several options:

  • Read a whitepaper on the technology
  • Watch a video introduction to the solution
  • Read a case study on a customer success story
  • Download a trial of the product

Working with the sales team, we define anyone who downloads the trial as a “sales qualified lead.” All other are “marketing leads” that stay with me for lead nurturing programs in an attempt to drive them further down the funnel. (For example, people who watch the video intro video get invited to a webinar that takes a deeper dive into the product.)

For me, here’s where tiered metrics come into play. Tier 3 is the micro level. The primary user of these metrics would be me and I’d be using them to measure individual activities and pieces of content. I look at these metrics on a daily or weekly basis. At this tier, I would measure:

  • Click-thru rates on the email to make sure the list vendor is providing a return
  • Click-thru rates on the banner ads to see which web site provides the best return
  • For the landing page, which items are people clicking on (helps me measure the effectiveness of the content on the landing page)

Tier 2 is the level of metrics I would also share with interested parties – product manager, sales team, my manager. At this level, I would measure overall sales funnel points including:

  • Landing page traffic
  • Marketing leads generated
  • Sales qualified leads passed along to the team

At this level, you can identify if you have any bottlenecks that may need to be addresses. For example, you may find out that you are generating lots of marketing leads but your conversion rate to sales qualified is very low. You may need to re-address what you consider a sales qualified lead or find out why people aren’t downloading the trial. This gives you the chance to identify potential problems early on and salvage your campaign. Since you need to build some traffic before these measures are statistically valid, you may wait some time before looking at these numbers. Also, I tend to look at these on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – often for reporting at team meetings with the interested parties.

For me, Tier 1 is where revenue is measured. And the target audience is my manager and up. The CEO probably could care less about the click-thru rate on a banner ad but would be very interested to know that the $250k invested in marketing for Product A has helped drive $4.6 million in revenue. The timing on this metric can vary based on the length of the sales cycle. Also, a campaign may end but you will still have latent leads in the funnel that the campaign generated and will result in revenue. So you need to go back and measure this metric weeks or months after the campaign is over.

Ideally, you can follow a lead from start to finish – not always easy to do! If you can, then you can tie revenue generated all the way back to the specific email list or web site that generated the lead. If you can, great! Sometimes, micro metrics can be misleading.  For example, a web site may generate a lot of click-thrus but most of them are junk.

For more on this survey, check out my additional post –

State of the economy

According to IDC, tech marketing budgets will increase by 3.5% this year. That would be good news unless you actually read beyond the headline. This result is based on interviews with “47 senior marketers at global technology companies representing more than $290 billion in revenue.” Due to my electrical engineering degree, I had to take a LOT of math – including statistics. 47 people don’t make for a very robust sample. And more important, if they all have very large budgets, they are a segment that represents only large firms.

I’m not sure if anyone has done a comprehensive study on marketing budgets across company size, industry, geography and more, but my anecdotal evidence points to a slight uptick in marketing budgets. I’m not too sure it’s as much as 3.5%, but it is something. The moral is, read the details of a report, even if it is from someone like IDC. You need to understand the methodology and sampling process in order to decide if the results fit you and your market.