Companies are investing more money in digital marketing and related technology as they seek to benefit from the ever growing digital economy, according to research published today.
Econsultancy's Marketing Budgets 2012 Report, published by Econsultancy in association with Experian Marketing Services, shows increasing levels of investment across a range of digital channels and disciplines.
According to the research, based on a survey of more than 500 companies and agencies, more than two-thirds (68%) are increasing their digital budgets for 2012, compared to 45% of companies increasing overall marketing budgets but only 16% saying the same for 'traditional' marketing budgets.
Three-quarters (74%) of companies are investing more in digital marketing technology this year, up from 67% who expressed similar intent a year ago.
The research also shows an encouraging commitment to address the skills gap within many companies, which we have previously described as 'a ticking digital time bomb'. More than half (56%) of companies say they will recruit more people into their digital teams this year, up from 52% a year ago.
Despite this progress, 'lack of staff' is still cited as one of the most significant barriers preventing further investment in digital marketing.
The chart below shows the proportion of companies planning increased investment for specific areas of digital, with more than half of organisations planning to boost budgets in almost every area. (Groupon investors should look away now.)
What best describes your budget plans for the following digital marketing channels or disciplines in 2012?
Commenting on the findings, Mark Zablan, Managing Director, Experian Marketing Services, UK & Ireland, said:
While spend is increasing, it is little surprise that much of the dynamic growth has been in companies trying to understand, interpret and measure customer behaviour within this increasingly complex marketing ecosystem.
The key to success is turning huge quantities of data into insights which show behaviour not only across channels, devices and platforms, but which also span both the online and offline worlds and drive customer engagement.
Marketers are therefore investing in the tools, technology and people to allow them to deliver greater returns on their campaigns and present insight and results back to the business in a meaningful and incisive way.
The report also looks at levels of investment in offline channels such as printed media and direct mail. Television is the only 'traditional' marketing channel where investment is holding steady rather than declining.
The research shows significant investment in mobile, as businesses seek to engage with the vast numbers of people now consuming information on devices such as smartphones and tablets.
While social networks may dominate media headlines, and are gaining ever-increasing shares of marketing budgets, strong performances by channels such as mobile and TV highlight the vital importance of a multichannel strategy.
Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.