Marketing Automation, Analytics Big B2B Trends for 2012

Marketing Automation.fwAfter interviewing some 200 brand marketers and executives from 10 agencies that work with business-to-business clients, Jeff Ernst,Forrester Research analyst concludes that marketing automation and analytics, mobile devices, and content marketing will be big trends in 2012.

For some, those developments will come as no surprise. The requirement to justify marketing spend by demonstrating return on investment is simply a requirement for B2B marketing executives, hence the heightened emphasis on analytics that offer insight into the revenue implications of marketing activities.

But Ernst also says sales automation tools will be a big emphasis as well, at least in part because the effectiveness of cold calling, email blasts and other outbound marketing activities arguably has declined.

“Our surveys show that 19 percent of B2B organizations are planning to implement marketing automation in 2012, and another 17 percent are expanding their usage,” said Ernst. That might include 20 percent of manufacturers, 20 percent of financial services firms, and 18 percent of business and professional services firms surveyed by Forrester Research.

Marketers Investing Heavily in Technology

Gartner analyst Laura McLellan has predicted that by 2017, chief marketing officers will spend more on information technology than the chief information officers. In part, that is because marketing already represents more spending than does traditional information technology, though it is not yet true that marketing IT spending is as large as overall organization information technology spending.

In 2011 B2B and B2C marketing budgets as a percentage of revenue were almost three times as high (10 percent) as IT budgets (3.6 percent), according to Gartner.

Gartner also said 2012 IT budgets are expected to grow 4.7 percent, while all marketing budgets, in general, are predicted to grow nine percent, and high tech marketing budgets, more specifically, are expected to increase 11 percent.

Optimizing Content for Mobile

With smart phones now standard in most organizations, and tablet adoption expanding rapidly, marketing attention also will turn to applications that take advantage of those devices.

In part, that will mean optimizing outbound marketing content for mobile screens, “on the fly,” depending on whether a PC or a mobile device is being used to open or access a message, for example.

“Thought leadership” will become the “core marketing platform,” Ernst also said. Just as political campaigns focus on a few key themes, so content marketers will take a more structured and sustained approach to content marketing. As the developing adage suggests, “marketers will act more like publishers.”

Social marketing will tend to move beyond use of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to industry-specific forums, seek to identify and enlist “influencers” in addition to the more familiar testimonials and case studies Ernst said.

The big take away here might well be the serious spending on marketing technology, despite the clear importance of the other trends.

About the author: Gary Kim has been a communications industry analyst and journalist for more than 25 years, and currently writes mostly about end user behavior, mobile applications, mobile payments, mobile banking and business models in the broadband ecosystem. He recently was cited as a global "Power Mobile Influencer" by Forbes; ranked second in the world for strategic coverage of the mobile business. He writes for several online content sites, including Carrier Evolution, IP Carrier, Mobile Marketing & Technology, Content Marketing Institute and TMCnet. He also contributes to Razorsight and Accedian blogs.

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