Are marketing budgets trending upwards in manufacturing? Evidence suggest the answer is “yes.” According to a 2017 study, the majority of respondents say that their marketing budget is increasing.

Research Report: Engineering Marketers’ 2017 Spending Plans–How, Where, and Why Marketers are Allocating Budget is the study in question, performed by Engineering.com, a digital media publisher spotlighting the engineering industry.

65% of those surveyed assert that the role of marketing is becoming increasingly vital in relation to sales, which reflects some important shifts in this age of digital information. One key shift is the evolving definition of marketing. In the old days, marketing was generally a one-way communication designed to attract interest in a product or service. Once interest was engaged, sales took over with its characteristic two-way dialogue in which buyers expressed needs and sales people identified solutions.

Marketing Redefined in the Digital Age

That paradigm has changed.

In the digital era, marketing is no longer a one-way road. Why? Interactive tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation enable the marketing function of a company to engage with customers to an unprecedented and ever-increasing degree. Also, consider the tremendously influential role that the customer voice now plays in marketing, in terms of customer reviews, social media and other engagements.

Prospects Take Charge of the Process

With contemporary digital marketing, customers are now escorting themselves along a self-guided “buyer’s journey.” Whereas they formerly had to reach out to the sales department to learn the ins and outs of a product, now they can research nearly every aspect of a product, and they may be 90% along in the decision-making process by the time they make their first contact with the firm. That’s why content has become so crucial.

Content Plays an Active Role in Marketing AND Sales

As a result, marketing budgets are swelling. The creation and distribution of useful content nurtures leads and informs prospects. Evaluating the most useful and attractive content is easy thanks to CRM and automation software helping to pinpoint what tools are most effective. For example, how did a prospect navigate to the website? Which emails did they open? Which white papers or eBooks did they download?

According to the report, marketers are being evaluated on a wider range of metrics than ever, including ROI, revenue, sales generated and site traffic. The new generation of closed loop reporting generates a customer database shared between marketing and sales, enabling firms to evaluate the quality of leads cultivated by specific marketing materials.

Where are today’s marketing dollars going? Trade show spending is declining, and content creation and distribution are top priorities, including those testimonials, spec sheets, calculators, webinars, videos, blogs, case studies and white papers which prospects find so useful.

Marketing and Sales Increasingly Interdependent

The digital revolution has triggered a marketing revolution, and there’s no going back. Old assumptions about the division between sales and marketing are obsolete: the two functions are increasingly interdependent and overlapping, and they’re bound to continue evolving.