Companies to Deepen Investments in Online Marketing

An estimated 45 percent of technology marketing budgets in 2004 will be spent online, according to the new 2004 IT Marketing Trends Study. The report, produced by Bitpipe and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey (SWMS), speculates that technology companies will spend more in 2004 to generate sales leads than they did in 2003--just as they spent more in 2003 than in 2002. Based on the results of a survey of 359 companies--291 of which were technology vendors with direct control over marketing spending--more than 75 percent reported that marketing spending in comparison with 2003 would either increase or stay consistent in 2004. Similar to the 2003 trend, much of that will be used toward lead generation. "Basically we've found a nice, solid shift to online marketing," says Mary Kelly, marketing director at Bitpipe. "I think the ability to optimize online campaigns and measure the results makes online lead-generation attractive to marketers." Seventy-three percent of respondents plan to implement more online sales lead-generation programs in this year, as compared to last. Additionally, 82 percent will use and implement in-house lead generation activities, rather than turn to an advertising or direct response agency. Other study findings reveal that online advertising's share of companies' IT budgets will increase from 14 percent to 16 percent, while online sales lead generation will go up from 26 percent to 28 percent. In contrast, direct mail, telemarketing, or other offline sales lead generation activities are expected to fall this year from 43 percent to 41 percent of marketing budget allocation. The report also illustrated a boost in intended Webcast usage, up from a 55 percent projected use last year to 73 percent this year. The results are "a reflection of the pain that everybody felt in 2002 and 2003 that branding was dead, or nearly so, and what budget we had left was much more useful for getting the phone to ring," says Sam Whitmore, editor of SWMS. "Now we're in 2004, and people's attitudes are starting to be built for 2005." Email promotion led the list of lead generation tools, favored by 85 percent of respondents. White papers remained an essential component of lead generation plans, with 82 percent of respondents asserting that they will use them for sales leads in 2004; white papers were also ranked just slightly ahead of case studies as the most important method for generating online sales leads. "I think that we're in a permanent condition where efficiency is going to be much more important of a force than unbridled optimism," Whitmore says.
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