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Almost 8 in 10 industrial marketers increased (31%) or maintained (48%) their budgets in 2017 relative to 2016, per a report [pdf] from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions. Websites, content and social media were the areas in which the most industrial marketers increased their spending in 2017, with 58% doing for each channel.

A majority also reported an uptick in spending on SEO (55%), while half hiked their investments in video and email marketing (using house lists).

Industrial marketers appear to be spending in areas where their target audiences reside. In an earlier study released last year, IEEE GlobalSpec found that technical professionals most commonly turn to general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs when searching for products and services to specify, recommend or purchase. While social media didn’t figure as prominently in technical professionals’ content consumption, almost two-thirds said they performed some type of work-related activity on social media, with the most common being reading work-related content (36%), searching for contacts (33%) and researching suppliers (32%).

This latest study indicates that online marketing channels are gaining in budget influence: 39% of respondents said that online was a greater portion of their budgets in 2017 than in 2016. By comparison, fewer than half as many (16%) reported that online occupied a smaller share of their budgets in 2017.

Even so, respondents were just as likely to say they were dissatisfied (26%) than satisfied (25%) with their company’s online marketing efforts, suggesting that there’s plenty of room for improvement. Likewise, social media efforts – centered around branding and content delivery – tended to garner a slightly more dissatisfied (29%) than satisfied (25%) response.

Customer Acquisition’s the Primary Focus; Demand Generation’s A Challenge

The marketers surveyed by IEEE GlobalSpec appeared to prioritize acquisition over retention last year, per the report. Of 4 marketing goals identified, 42% chose acquisition as their primary objective, more than three times the share who focused on retention (12%).

Demand generation was the second-leading goal among those surveyed, but appears to also be a key challenge. Asked which of several challenges figured among their top-3, respondents pointed first to a lack of resources (36%), but close behind said they’re not generating enough high-quality leads for sales (34%). And in a separate question asking what they consider to be the biggest challenge in their profession, the largest share of marketers cited generating leads for sales (29%), ahead of measuring the ROI of their efforts (25%).

The full study can be accessed here [pdf].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 503 respondents within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities. Almost half work for manufacturers, 19% for distributors, and 19% for service providers.

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