2016 Marketing Budget Trends, by Channel

January 26, 2016

StrongViewSelligent-2016-Marketing-Budget-Plans-by-Program-Jan2016Business leaders are once again confident in the general direction of their marketing budgets this year, report Selligent and StrongView in newly-released survey data [pdf], as 56% of respondents expect to increase their budgets. Email appears to be a primary recipient of increased budgets, according to the StrongView report and a separate study [pdf] from Campaigner.

Indeed, 6 in 10 respondents reported planning to increase their email marketing spending this year, the broadest consensus of the all the channels measured. Closely following were social media (56.3% increasing spend) and display advertising (55.9%), with mobile marketing spend also expected to climb for a slight majority (51.9%) of respondents. These are the for the most part more buoyant expectations than found in last year’s survey, in which only one channel (email) was slated for an increase by a majority of respondents.

Meanwhile, traditional channels fall lower on the spectrum again. Still, more than twice as many respondents plan to increase (26.8%) than decrease (11.5%) their direct mail spending. Research from MarketingCharts has found that US consumers – particularly Baby Boomers – ascribe strong purchase influence to direct mail.

Respondents were also more likely to say they would increase (16.3%) than decrease (12.9%) their tradeshow and event budgets. Research has similarly shown that in-person events are particularly effective for B2B marketers.

Finally, more respondents expect to decrease than increase their print and TV/radio advertising budgets, though fewer than half of respondents overall appear to advertising on radio and TV.

For its part, Campaigner’s survey – conducted among more than 500 of its customers – finds email marketing to have the highest anticipated spend of the various channels listed. This could well be a reflection of the survey sample, as Campaigner offers email marketing services. Nevertheless, for these respondents, content marketing averages out as the second-largest channel by anticipated marketing spend, followed by social media, event marketing, SEO, offline direct marketing and then mobile marketing.

Email Priorities and Challenges

Returning to the Selligent and StrongView survey, a closer look at email marketing indicates that respondents are most likely to increase spending for the following email programs:

  • Social media channel growth – 44.8%;
  • Promotional (batch) – 43.1%; and
  • Triggered/transactional programs – 39.7%.

Specific to lifecycle email marketing programs, the largest proportion of respondents plan increases for:

  • Welcome (67.7%);
  • Loyalty (60.6%); and
  • Winback/re-engagement (56.8%).

Turning to email marketing challenges, the report indicates that the biggest challenge heading into 2016 is leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources, though many also say that improving segmentation and targeting will be a challenge.

Of note, the biggest challenge to leveraging more data in email marketing programs is data cleanliness and quality, per respondents. That brings to mind recent survey results from Ascend2, in which improving list quality was cited as the most important goal of respondents’ list strategies. Moreover, a recent survey from Phrasee found that data quality is considered to be the top element affecting email response rates.

Finally, respondents to the Campaigner survey indicate that earning new subscribers will be their biggest email marketing challenge this year, an interesting result given previously-released StrongView data showing that email marketers are far more focused on increasing subscriber engagement in the year ahead than they are on growing their lists.

About the Data: The StrongView and Selligent survey was conducted from November 25 to December 9, 2015 and gathered feedback from 295 business leaders across a range of industries, with the marketing and advertising industry most heavily represented. A majority (58%) of respondents come from organizations with more than 50 employees.

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