Almost three-quarters of Australian companies are planning to increase digital spend this year, with digital marketing budgets expected to increase an average of 28%.

Search engine optimisation and email marketing for engagement/retention will be the top digital priorities, with 65% increasing investment in these areas.

Lead generation, video advertising, paid search and webinars/virtual events will also be a focus. 

In the mobile world, businesses will be concentrating on mobile applications (47%) and QR codes (45%) and although location based marketing is not rated high by marketers, Simon O’Day, vice president at Responsys Asia-Pacific, believes this will become a big trend over the next few years:

While only a quarter of marketers are using location based marketing, this area is going to gain momentum over the next couple of years. 

With the availability of targeting technologies there’s a real opportunity for marketers to be more intuitive and capture the consumers attention wherever they are. 

These findings come from the fourth annual Marketing Budgets report, conducted by Responsys and Econsultancy, which is based on a survey of 834 marketing professionals in December and January 2013.

It also echos similar Econsultancy research carried out at the beginning of the year. 

Challenges for Australian marketers

Almost half of respondents said a restricted budget will be a challenge to further digital investment and a third said company culture and lack of staff to make the most of digital investment will be big challenges. 

While investment in digital is increasing across the board, O’Day did say these issues are concerning given how necessary digital has become for business survival. 

It’s encouraging to see marketers recognise the importance of putting resources behind a range of disciplines as part of a joined up, multi-channel approach. 

While its good news that digital investment is rising, it’s still concerning that a third of marketers consider company culture a challenge preventing further growth. With digital now recognised as an essential channel for marketers, I am surprised this figure is so high.

[Image credit 401(K) 2013]