Marketing budget allocations should, of course, always be based on the unique a company’s unique situation: its specific needs, experiences, strengths, market position, market conditions and trends, etc.

That said, it can nevertheless be helpful to know how one’s competitors and peers in other industries are planning to split up their marketing dollars for the coming year. This knowledge can help marketing executives identify gaps and opportunities within their own plans, as well as providing “ammunition” for high-level budget battles.

So it’s helpful that MarketingSherpa recently asked a large number of marketers how they planned to change tactical allocations for the coming year.

B2B Marketing Budget Allocation Plans for 2014

Among the key findings:

Digital budgets are growing. While the trend is hardly shocking, it is striking how pronounced this shift is. All of the top seven growth areas for marketing dollars are digital, with more than half of all marketers planning budget increases in 2014 in five of these areas.

The top three areas for budget increases—and five of the top seven tactics—are focused on a company’s “owned” media.

Taking the top six categories as a group, the strategy being embraced by the majority of marketers in 2014 will primarily consist of:

  • Attracting relevant visitors to their websites using valued content.
  • Converting those visitors into leads by optimizing calls to action and other elements of landing pages.
  • Promoting content using a mixed of organic search, paid search, and social media tactics.

B2B vendor websites have come a long way since the days of serving as essentially online brochures. Given that 70% of the b2b purchasing cycle is complete before a vendor’s sales team is even aware of the opportunity, websites are now expected to accomplish much of the pre-sales heavy lifting.

One-to-one tactics are holding steady. More than half of all survey respondents plan no changes in spending levels for direct mail, trade shows and telemarketing in the coming year, with larger shares of the remaining respondents planning budget increases rather than decreases.

Each of these tactics enable one-to-one communication with sales prospects. Direct mail and telemarketing also permit careful targeting.

Old school marketing continues to decline. The two tactics for which the largest shares of marketers plan to cut budgets in the coming year are print and broadcast advertising. These channels share three characteristics:

  • The content is interruption-based rather than sought out.
  • They permit only general targeting.
  • Their results are difficult to measure.

Taken as a whole, this survey indicates that marketers will increase efforts on content marketing (online) and targeted one-to-one (online and offline) communications over traditional, mass-market media in the coming year. While every company’s situation is unique, few B2B vendors are likely to stray too far off this general path in 2014.