B2B Interactive Marketing Spending To Hit $4.8 Billion by 2014

Forrester’s five year forecast of B2B interactive marketing spending has gone live on the Forrester site. This report marks the beginning of a chain of research for interactive marketing professionals at B2B companies. It should be no surprise that B2B interactive marketing spending continues to grow – and quickly at that. We project B2B interactive marketing spending to hit $4.8 billion in 2014, over double an estimated $2.3 billion in 2009. That’s no number to sneeze at, but what impresses me most is that historically conservative B2B marketers are not only investing in interactive marketing, but actually shifting budget towards online channels. While all marketers need to adjust marketing plans to suit their unique marketing goals and purchaser behavior, I think our forecast reflects a few universal truths for B2B marketers:

  • Accountability reigns supreme. Even more than their B2C counterparts, B2B interactive marketers are highly focused on channels that deliver tangible business results. Search marketing has been an obvious beneficiary here and we expect B2B marketers to continue focusing on delivering quality leads through their interactive marketing efforts.
  • But digital isn’t just for sourcing leads anymore. Paid search is still the top interactive line item for B2B marketers, but display, mobile, and social marketing are all growing quickly. As B2B marketers gain experience with interactive marketing, they are beginning to stretch outside of their comfort zone and turn to channels that can spark brand interest and help educate potential customers.
  • B2B marketers can’t ignore social media. Consumer-focused marketers have been relatively fast out of the gate in adopting social marketing, but I believe that it’s B2B marketers who will ultimately gain the most from social technologies. B2B marketers have always understood the need to develop deeper relationships with customers, and while traditional sales and client service operations aren’t going to disappear, social media has emerged as key platform for informing decision makers during the sales process and engaging and supporting existing clients.

Stay tuned for more research on B2B interactive marketing. Until then, how do you see B2B interactive marketing evolving over the next 12 months? What research would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below.


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Do you see any B2B marketing trends in regard to cell phone applications? It seems like the interactivity offered by these applications will provide a touch point with consumers on a device that they will always have in reach. An application that provides instant interaction and feedback seems like it would be a great way to deepen the relationship between brand and consumer.

Basically, I see a general trend of more and more cell phones being designed to features these apps--how do you see B2B marketing efforts reacting to this medium that offers 'instant gratification' for its users?

re: B2B Interactive Marketing Spending To Hit $4.8 Billion by 2

Always great to see the scale of digital growth quantified so thanks again Forrester. It further echoes our B2B agency ethos that there is no longer such thing as a digital agency - you're either digital or you die! We've had to structurally and culturally turn or agency round to succeed. Thankfully it has worked. What's important to consider is the fact that many b2b clients are now 'dabbling' in areas of digital marketing, whether it be video, ppc, blogs, rss, social media etc. but seriously struggle to grasp the strategic integration of such channels, let alone lead generation and sales integration. They are 'toe-dipping' into social media and such channels because they feel they can prove the 'spend' is less than traditional above the line channels - and have pressures to do so from the board. We have recently conducted international (mainly european) research into take up of web 2.0 channels. When coupled with our own B2B digital forum with some 100 clients and a panel including Google and LinkedIn, whereby we held roundtable discussions and panel debates on strategic issues - the 'dabbling' hypotheses was further proven. Anyway, working with a large B2B client at the minute planning segemented ppc, banners, behavioural, e-mail, sales promo, (mobile?), PR, viral, social medi etc. all linked through to planned web user journeys (lead generation)... on a digital platform that will move towards using webtrends / TagMan to truly measure ROI and get away from last click arguments! All exciting stuff so if you have any true integration experiences to share please do let me know. Onwards and upwards in B2B Digital Marketing it is - good luck to all.

re: B2B Interactive Marketing Spending To Hit $4.8 Billion by 2

Justin... you're right on Video. Heard the other day that c.55% of traffic now running along one of the world's largest data networks (can't say which!) is video.... the growth from 10% only a couple of years ago is frightening and I can believe it.

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I pleased to see there is some research to back up what I have been thinking for a while now. Providing B2B organisation are 100% clear on the role social media can play and what they hope to gain, then social media is potentially more significant to B2B than B2C. Furthermore, social media for B2B can go a little further than informing during the sales process, in the primary stages it's transparency can help identify the elements of the DMU and the 'trust agents' involved.

re: B2B Interactive Marketing Spending To Hit $4.8 Billion by 2

I believe that outsourced lead gen campaigns and websites will begin to grow more over the next year or two in the B2B space. There is a lot of room for that to grow as many of the largest interactive marketing firms concentrate on lead gen verticals that are B2C. B2B lead gen is a different ball game with less scale, so the models are less built out.

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Nice work Michael. In answer to your quesiton, I see B2B interactive marketing focusing more and more on online video. 2010 is clearly the year of online video for business brands. I started seeing it take off last year. Now it's at the tipping point or just beyond. Online video platform vendors like Brightcove have clearly figured this out and focused their marketing accordingly [disclosure: using them on a current project.]

I see more interactive marketers experimenting with developing thought leadership video series to keep existing clients more engaged, as well as educating buyers in the sales process. I often refer to it as developing a "mini CNBC" focused on the business issues of the brand's community.

Would love to see some B2B online video best practice research (other than what I'm working on : ). While it's gaining significant momentum in B2B, there are formidable obstacles to making it work well as part of an integrated strategy. But best practices are starting to emerge.

Bobby Tulsiani has done some great work capturing best practices on the consumer side. But as you mentioned above, B2B is uniquely positioned to put social media like online video to good use in relationship marketing. The Merrill Lynch lead gen case from his work is the most relevant to B2B.

re: B2B Interactive Marketing Spending To Hit $4.8 Billion by 2

This research really captures the trends we’re seeing among our B2B clients and prospects, especially in terms of increasing adoption of new online communications channels like mobile and social. We’re optimistic about B2B marketers’ willingness to extend “beyond their comfort zone” to experiment with new channels and adopt what we consider to be traditional B2C tactics such as cross-sell/up-sell and trigger event marketing to drive customer loyalty and retention. With increased focus on improving the customer experience, personalization and making targeted offers that are consistently communicated across channels are critical for success in the coming year. However, it’s clear that in order for these new channels and tactics to be fully embraced, they must be measurable and have clear ROI. Certainly not a new problem, but it becomes increasingly difficult as campaigns take on greater complexity. Marketers must be able to easily access and track data to measure the impact of particular offers and channels on an overall campaign. Without the use of marketing automation and specific lead management tools that can support multiple channels, B2B marketers will face major hurdles in terms of maximizing interactive marketing investments.