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Even though marketing budgets are expected to rise and account for a larger share of overall company budgets in the next year, chances are marketers will always be happy with even larger budgets to put towards their efforts. So if they had an extra marketing budget, where would marketers invest it first? Here’s what a recent report [download page] from Merkle reveals.

Of the 200 North American marketers surveyed, about one-third (32% share) say they would first invest extra marketing budget in data, analytics and technology. With data and analytics being used for customer insights and personalization, as well as decision-making by business leaders, many companies are already planning to up their investments in technologies such as data management software, machine learning and AI.

A smaller share of marketers would first invest extra marketing budget in these categories: digital (16%); paid media (10%); search (10%); content (9%); resources/team (9%); social (7%); email (6%); and direct mail (1%).

It’s worth noting that not only do these categories have some overlap, the priority isn’t necessarily an indicator of that area’s effectiveness. For example, although only a small share of respondents would prioritize email if they had extra marketing budget at hand, more than half (52%) say that email is the most valuable marketing channel for retaining customers. Meanwhile, email would also benefit from marketers making investments in data, analytics and technology a budget priority. More than three-quarters (78%) respondents report that they use data in order to deliver a personalized customer experience in email.

While email is continuing to thrive, investment in direct mail is dropping. Close to half (48% share) of respondents say they have decreased their direct mail budgets in recent years, while 11% say they have never invested in direct mail.

Merkle also found that businesses are more likely to outsource their technology platforms than they are to keep them in-house. But outsourcing isn’t true across all areas: more companies are keeping at least some of their creative in-house.

To learn more, the report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 200 marketers at major North American brands spanning across industries including retail, travel, financial services, insurance, entertainment, automotive, pharma and B2B.

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