2015 Marketing Budget Trends, by Channel

StrongView-2015-Marketing-Budget-Plans-by-Program-Dec2014Business leaders are generally optimistic about the direction their marketing budgets will take next year, according to a StrongView survey [pdf]. Indeed, 54% expect their budgets to grow next year (up from 46% in last year’s survey), with one-third of those forecasting budget growth of at least 10%. So which channels are slated for increases – and which will see budget cuts?

The findings strike a familiar tone with respect to the online-offline divide. In other words, digital marketing channels are those topping the list of planned budget increases, while traditional channels head the list of those set for budget reductions. Within the US, this shift has been in the works for quite some time, even though survey data suggests that traditional media advertising continues to perform very well relative to online advertising.

In any case, email marketing is the program for which the largest share (60.7%) of respondents plan budget increases, a finding that makes sense given email’s consistently highly-rated ROI. Of note, despite difficulties measuring its ROI, social follows email, with almost half of respondents planning an increase in 2015. (Maybe marketers should pay more attention to email than social – or Facebook, at least? According to Forrester Research, “If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.”)

Rounding out the top 5 programs (of 10 identified) tabbed for budget increases next year are mobile marketing (40.2%), search (38.3%) and display (37.4%). Clearly, digital is where the action is.

Traditional media, meanwhile, continues to suffer from planned decreases. Print advertising remains most susceptible to cuts, with almost one-third of respondents expecting a decrease in funding. Direct mail (22.3%) and TV/radio advertising (17.8%) are also under the gun, with more respondents planning to decrease than increase their budgets.

2015 and 2014 Budget Trends Compared

Looking at how responses to this year’s survey compare with last year’s, a few notable points emerge:

  • There is more interest in mobile budgets this year, with the 40% predicting an increase representing significant growth from last year’s 32%;
  • Similarly, the proportion of respondents predicting an email marketing budget hike has grown from last year; and
  • Consistent with last year’s results, planned budget increases for trade shows and events and public relations outpace planned spending decreases, although the gap is narrowing for trade shows.

Honing in on email marketing programs, the survey indicates that:

  • Triggered/transactional programs (42.2%) and lifecycle programs (41.4%) top the list of planned spending hikes, unlike last year, when social media channel growth was on top; and
  • Loyalty (45.2%) and welcome (35.9%) are the lifecycle email marketing programs that most plan to increase spending on, much as they were last year.

About the Data: The StrongView industry survey was conducted with SENSORPRO from November 21 to December 5, 2014, among 377 business leaders. Some 33.5% of respondents come from organizations with 1-50 employees, while 28.2% come from organizations with more than 1,000 employees. Almost three-quarters (73.4%) are with companies headquartered in North America. Respondents represent companies in a range of industries, with marketing/advertising (16.4%), technology/internet (14.3%) and retail (10.5%) most heavily represented.