Companies that sell products and services to other businesses are learning that the Internet offers up an abundance of opportunities for lead generation, customer acquisition, branding and, of course, customer retention. Many of the online strategies and principals being used in the consumer world can be applied, with adjustments, to the business space. Many firms looking to market themselves to other companies via the Web are now experimenting with search, blogs, podcasting, Webinars, social networks, behavioral targeting and video applications.

BtoB Magazine and Forrester recently conducted a global study among both consumer and B2B marketers and found that 72% plan to increase their online spending in 2006. Similarly, The Economist Intelligent Unit recently found that 88% of companies worldwide plan to raise their online ad spending over the next two years, with 10% of them planning to invest 30% or more of their budgets online.

Looking strictly at the B2B sector, American Business Media (ABM) and Forrester found that 49% of B2B firms used online advertising in 2005, and what's more, they shifted just under one quarter of their ad dollars to digital media. The same trend is being seen in the leading markets in Europe. According to the IAB UK, about 40% of UK B2B marketers are using the Internet, and 63% plan to increase their spending online this year, with one-third aiming for increases of up to 20%.

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