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The proliferation of robust marketing technologies available at reasonable prices has been instrumental in improving business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
According to a new eMarketer report, “Canada B2B Marketing: A Maturing Discipline, Underpinned by Marketing Tech” (the full report is available only to eMarketer PRO subscribers), B2B budgets rarely had room for significant investment in technology in the past, since tactical lead generation from database marketing drove most of the tangible results.
Since then, many barriers to investing in marketing technology have dropped. Pricing models now are often pay-as-you-go, and ease of use has improved to the point where very little, if any, training expense is required.
Investing in inexpensive tools (often based on Software as a Service [SaaS], with low monthly license costs) to automate programs and gather insight into the elusive B2B buyer has directly impacted the performance of programs and the ability to measure return on investment (ROI).
As these firms catch up with business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts, as much as a third of B2B marketing budgets among its client base are now dedicated to technology acquisition, according to motum b2b, a Toronto-based agency. This is greater than the 27% share of marketing expenses allocated to technology found in Gartner’s “CMO Spend Survey” report, which queried B2C and B2B marketers in North America and the UK in August 2016.
Toronto-based Mezzanine Group clarified that its small and medium-sized B2B client base spends significantly less.
The B2B agency reported that 13.8% of total marketing budgets in 2016 were dedicated to marketing technology. Broken down further, software licensing accounted for 50% of that budget, 25% was for the cost to implement and operate the apps, 10% was earmarked for analytics, 10% was allocated to infrastructure and 5% was set aside for IT expenses.
“There is a greater acceptance for marketing technology in B2B now,” said Christina Dong, vice president of client services and business development at motum b2b. “Whereas five years ago it was more about just the website as an online brochure. Today, it’s an active lead-gen tool.”
Today, most enterprise B2B marketing teams have a marketing technology stack composed of the following: content management systems to deliver content to owned web properties; publishing platforms for video and webinars; and API-driven, self-serve advertising tools for ad placement on social sites like Google (for search), Facebook and LinkedIn (for native display ads).
Linking all these point solutions together is a marketing automation system, which ideally hooks into a customer relationship management (CRM) system and has the ability to produce business intelligence reporting.
“The martech stack has to work together like a well-oiled lead generation machine,” said Dan Radu, founder and principal consultant of Macromator, a Toronto-based marketing technology consultancy. “But companies struggle to reap the benefits of their martech stack because they lack a focus on process and don’t define clear roles and responsibilities for everyone involved.”
The theme of untapped potential from these systems was identified by several agencies interviewed for this report. “Most marketing automation systems are being used at a minimal level,” said Ryan Burgio, co-founder and managing director of Kitchener, Ontario-based Stryve Digital Marketing. “But we are starting to see some businesses strip down their tool sets to the most necessary features, while ramping up their utilization.”
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