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How Much Should B2B Companies invest in Digital Marketing [2017-2020]


A report from Forrester Research demonstrates how companies are allocating marketing funds between offline and online campaigns. The report perfectly answers the question of how much of a company’s marketing budget should be allocated to digital channels. In the same breath, it also answers the question as to which online…

A report from Forrester Research demonstrates how companies are allocating marketing funds between offline and online campaigns. The report perfectly answers the question of how much of a company’s marketing budget should be allocated to digital channels. In the same breath, it also answers the question as to which online or digital channels will bring the best results for a marketing team.

Some pointers from the report are as follows:

  • Companies are expected to allocate 30% of their marketing budget on online campaigns in 2017. Also, that number is expected to grow to 35% in 2018.
  • Social media investments hold only about 15% of the total expenditure out of the online budget but are projected to increase by a certain number in few years.
According to the recent CMO Survey, it looks like B2B firms spend somewhere about six to nine percent of their incomes on marketing, with service-oriented businesses marketing being at the lower end and product-oriented businesses at the higher end of the scale. How much a brand can afford to spend on digital marketing depends on some factors like investor funding, current profits and business objectives. However, it can be helpful to consider some marketing budget benchmarks and see how your proposed expenditure compares. Doing this will give you the assessment of whether your budget is in line with your competition and how much more investment you need. It is pivotal to note that the budget represents the total marketing investment, and not just the advertising or media expenditure. The marketing budget includes aspects like marketing teams, customer-relationship management expenses, expenses paid to agencies and other outside teams, advertising expenses, media spend, etc. Firms trying to grow market share will likely be on the high side of the budget size vs. firms planning for modest growth, which can be on the lower side. Moreover, the competitive nature of a certain marketplace will influence where a particular firm falls among the budget sizes.

Which Social Media Channels should B2B companies invest in?

The August 2016 eMarketer report brings a fresh point to this answer. This report forecasted social media penetration through 2020. Some tidbits from the report indicate that Facebook is expected to continue its reign as the supreme leader, with 90% of social media users utilising the platform’s amenities. Instagram is expected to grow, from 32% penetration to 47% by 2020. Pinterest and Twitter will continue to have comparatively low penetration, peaking at around 33% of users by 2020. Digital marketing expenditure, relatively, has consistently grown by double-digit increments year after year. This means businesses are eager to increase their marketing spend. What used to be dedicated to outbound strategies radio, television, and the newspaper is now being dedicated to searching, email, and social. Conclusion - This data indicates that Facebook and Instagram are the best channel investments. However, every company’s target market should be researched thoroughly before formulating general online or digital marketing strategies. Another eMarketer August 2016 report specified that 75% of companies expect to increase their spending on Google Adwords in the next 12 months – that’s more than any other digital channel. Facebook came in second with an expected increase of 69%, hence proving that the leader can always lose the throne. Instagram and Twitter investment increases were 41% and 21%, respectively.


To know how much you need to spend on digital marketing and which social channels you should invest in, you need to understand the landscape of digital marketing in your industry. To fulfil that purpose, you must take out sufficient time to research. Before you do the required research, there are a few things to be kept in mind: Competitor Analysis - To invest in your brand’s digital marketing you need to know your competitors’ marketing budget and the largest portion of their investments. Be it online or offline, an eye on the competitors’ marketing team can help you to build your budget. Analyse which source or medium is bringing them the best results and if doing the same can help you as well. Keyword themes - Identify which keywords are in the pool of your industry and which of them can boost your brand’s organic or paid search. Also, research about their estimated bids. Social communities - Study which social channels and communities your audience frequent and analyse the costs of advertising on such platforms. Social influencers - List out all the social influencers dominant in your industry, their prices and their reputation among the potential consumer base. Costs of content - Your company can do successful digital marketing only if it has a team competent enough to do that. A team with the requisite time and experience to manage the content creation and marketing should be hired if not already. The costs to do that can hence alleviate your marketing budget.

Is your company offline or online?

Businesses who depend more heavily on the digital landscape to generate sales (e.g. an e-commerce business) invest a larger percentage of their marketing budget towards the internet rather that traditional sources of marketing. For more traditional businesses, which rely on digital and offline activity to complete the sales cycle, a healthy mix of marketing strategy is to be expected.


It's not a surprise that digital marketing services are growing, and it's pretty much here to stay. B2B companies are transferring their funds from outbound channels into digital marketing services to optimise results. To determine your perfect budget, assess what type of digital marketing services you want to provide to your customers, understand the complications in your sales process, and ensure you are investing adequate funds in measuring results properly. Don’t ignore the consistent and continual growth of the mobile landscape, and use these B2B budget ranges as a beginning point for the successful provision of your digital marketing service. We need to place ourselves in the shoes of our potential customers and talk in the tone that they will relate to. Platforms like Facebook can boost your business to the next level, which will simply not be the case if you choose to utilise other ineffective measures and/or platforms. So, make sure there’s enough scope in your budget to experiment with various digital marketing services, before you’re left behind by your competition.

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