As buyers demand a more helpful purchasing experience, B2B marketers are investing more in technology, analytics and marketing programs to improve the customer experience as well as increase revenue, Forrester Research says.

Most B2B marketing executives are increasing their spending budgets on technology and marketing programs this year, and in many cases at a faster pace than spending on personnel, Forrester Research Inc. says.

The research firm found that 71% of companies are increasing their marketing program budgets, including 37% who are increasing their program spending by 10% or more. It also found that 60% are spending more on marketing technology, including 26% who are increasing their spending by 10% or more.

By comparison, 67% of companies are increasing spending on personnel, including only one-tenth who are increasing spending by 10% or more. The findings, presented in the report “Forrester Infographic: B2B Budgets Bank on Programs and Tech,” by Laura Ramos and Meredith Cain, along with other Forrester analysts, are based on a 2018 survey of nearly 200 companies with annual revenue of $100 million or more, who were asked about their spending plans in 2019.

Events are big—both for in-person and digital

Among marketing programs, Forrester said companies on average were allocating the largest share of spending, 12%, on events marketing (in-person on digital), followed by direct marketing at 11%. “Events are important to business buyers,” Forrester says, as “45% of B2B technology buyers rely on conference presentations and booth materials when making buying decisions.”

Forrester adds that B2B marketers still need to consider other forms of marketing, including through channel partners, third-party marketing content and paid media advertising. “Engaging more empowered prospects requires a strong digital strategy because 65% of B2B buyers prefer to conduct their purchase research online, rather than work with a salesperson,” Forrester says, citing the Forrester B2BecNews Q2 2018 Global Buy-Side Online Survey.

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Marketing tools with ‘high business value’

In another report, “The Forrester Tech Tide: B2B Marketing Technologies, Q4, 2018,” Forrester identified marketing technologies offering “high business value” and worthy of investment:

  • Account-based marketing platforms;
  • Customer-engagement marketing;
  • Event-management solutions;
  • Measurement and analytics;
  • Programmatic advertising;
  • Social engagement tools.

That report, which provides more details on how such technologies fit into marketing strategies, suggests companies maintain the use of, if not increase investment in, other “high-value” marketing technologies:

  • Content marketing platforms;
  • Marketing automation platforms;
  • Social listening applications;
  • Webinar platforms.

It also advises companies to experiment with chatbots and virtual assistants, virtual reality and augmented reality applications.

An overall B2B marketing goal, Forrester notes, should be to assist buyers in their increasing desire to receive help in deciding to make purchases, much as they’ve come to expect in retail ecommerce.

“As B2B buyers’ behavior evolves to resemble consumers’ preferences in several key dimensions, the technologies B2B marketers and sellers use to plan, execute, and optimize their engagement with these self-directed digital-first buyers are evolving in parallel,” Forrester says, adding: “The modern B2B marketing technology (martech) stack is becoming increasingly populated with technologies that reflect this new reality—and enable B2B marketers to create dynamic customer-driven systems of insight and engagement.”

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