Prior to the global COVID-19 outbreak, many marketers anticipated increasing their investment in areas such as content marketing, events and marketing technology. And, while some still expect an increase in these areas, several appear to be pulling back on budget increases as uncertainty builds. This is according to findings from a report [download page] from Chief Marketer.
In a survey of close to 150 marketers, conducted in late February and early March 2020, nearly half (48%) said that content marketing was among the top 3 areas that would receive increased funding next year. Alongside content marketing, paid advertising (31%), events (26%) and martech (17%) were among the top 3 aspects of marketing budgets they expected to see increased this year over last.
When a wider survey of close to 500 marketers was conducted post-COVID-19 (late April-early May) fewer said that budgets would be increased in most of these areas, including content marketing (39%) and paid advertising (25%).
Post-COVID-19, only 8% reported that their martech budgets would be among their top 3 areas to receive more funding this year. That said, other research has indicated that not only have marketers continued their investment in martech, but some industries have accelerated their martech projects during this time. Additionally, a majority of enterprise marketers anticipate increasing their investment in martech next year.
One finding that stands out is the increased percentage of respondents who said they did not know what aspects of their marketing budgets would receive more funding than 2019. In the months before COVID-19, only 13% chose this option as part of their top 3. However, the more recent survey shows that about twice as many (25% of) marketers were uncertain of where any budget increases would be invested.
Live Events Budgets Redistributed
Another area that fewer marketers expect to see budgets increase in, post-COVID-19, is events. There has been plenty of research showing the impact COVID-19 has had on the live events industry, And, with live events still being cancelled, budgets set aside for these events are being reallocated.
For more than half (56%) of respondents, live event budgets are being invested in virtual events. This shift towards virtual events is likely to remain even after live events return, with many marketers believing that some virtual aspects will be woven into the live experience.
Live event budgets have also been redistributed to areas like content marketing (42%) and digital advertising (39%).
Influencer Marketing Delivers ROI During COVID-19
Prior to the pandemic, only about 1 in 10 (9% of) respondents believed that influencer marketing delivered the most ROI (top 3 choices). That percentage more than doubled post-COVID-19, with some 22% of marketers saying influencer marketing was one of the 3 areas to deliver the highest ROI of the choices available.
Even so, the proportion of marketers tabbing influencer marketing as a top area to receive more funding this year hans’t increased since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to this study.
Social Is a Top Source of Engagement and Conversions for B2Cs
Recent research from The CMO Survey indicates that top marketers are shifting more of their budgets towards social media in order to build brand awareness, retain, and acquire customers during COVID-19. Chief Marketer’s research shows that the increased investment is paying off for B2C companies. More than half (54%) of the post-COVID-19 B2C respondents indicated that social media was one of the channels that proved to be their largest sources of engagement (top 3 choices).
Not only that, but some 49% anticipate social media to produce the largest number of conversions (top 3). This is more than double the 23% who claimed the same pre-COVID-19.
To read more, the full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Results are based on surveys of 147 respondents in February-March 2020 and 494 respondents in late April-early May 2020. The respondent samples pre-and post-COVID 19 were similar in marketing focus, company size and annual marketing budget.