Social Media Research

The Surprising Places Marketers Plan to Increase Budgets in 2014

2014 state of marketingJay Baer Blog PostMarketers are evidently enthusiastic heading into 2014….about everything.

A fascinating new study was released this morning from Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud (a client of Convince & Convert). Called 2014 State of Marketing, insights from over 2,500 global marketers, the report is full of data about marketers’ outlook and plans for the coming year.

Several interesting point in this study, including the fact that increasing brand awareness is the number two priority among respondents (which are incidentally a very broad pool of marketers – from entry level and small business, to 35+ years of experience and global enterprise companies). Also intriguing is the finding that 34% of participants say that social media is producing ROI today, with another 52% believing that it will produce ROI eventually.

Can You Increase the Budget for Everything? If So, Please Call Me

The most extraordinary statistic in this report is that marketers appear to be almost universally bullish on digital marketing, and are planning to throw gobs of cash at every conceivable digital tactic.

The 2014 State of Marketing found that 58% of marketers plan to increase spending on email marketing; 53% plan to increase on SMS; 54% plan to increase on search; 57% plan to increase on social media; 60% plan to increase on marketing automation; 43% plan to increase on display/banner ads; 49% plan to increase on mobile push notifications; and 55% plan to increase on social advertising.



I wasn’t a math major, but if everything is going up, what is going down? Other than the 6% of responding marketers that predict they’ll spend less on banners in 2014, where are all these dollars coming from? The oft-reported prediction from Gartner that the CMO will control more technology budget than the CIO by 2017 may in fact turn out to be true, but that’s still three year off – allegedly. Sure, maybe some of these budget increases will be paid for by reducing expenditures on TV, radio, outdoor, print, event sponsorships, snacks, logo golf balls, or from some other magic pot of gold.

The Key is Measurement First, Tactical Expansion Second

I believe something else is afoot here. I believe that marketing has grown in complexity and opportunity at an unprecedented rate for five years, to the point that many marketers do not really know what works, or what may work in the future. We have more marketing capability and capacity than ever, but paradoxically less certainty than ever. It’s like an expensive game of musical chairs, with each seat comprised of a different type of digital marketing savior. It’s no wonder then that the number one category of increase in marketing budgets in 2014 is “Data and Analytics” with 61% of responding marketers planning to boost budgets there. How can you decide to increase your marketing budget for all or nearly all digital tactics WITHOUT knowing which of them are actually paying off for your company? You can’t. Or at least, you shouldn’t try.

Marketers are surrounded by data, yet starved for insights (click to tweet)

This age of marketing complexity benefits three groups, specifically.

1. Marketers who are facile with data, statistics, optimization, and design of experiments

2. Consultants that can do the same, while also providing guidance on software selection (hey, that’s us!)

3. All-in-one marketing cloud systems (like ExactTarget, Oracle, et al) that can reduce complexity by baking many/most of the marketing processes into a unified technology stack

More consolidation is on the way, powering #3, above. #2 is on me, and my ilk. But #1 is your responsibility. Make this year the year that you get great at data, so that you can make the best possible decisions about where and how to spend your marketing resources, okay? Because you can’t wallpaper over scarce insights by increasing budgets everywhere…at least not forever.


Grab a copy of this very interesting report for yourself (it’s free).


Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Hi Jay,

    Great questions, and a reason why I always hated math at high school! It does seem that there’s an overabundance of survey responses where marketers don’t want to be seen as behind their peers/competitors, so they’ll say what they think the question askers want to hear.

    One thing that did spring to mind – for the percentages, could it be that it’s the percentage of who answered that particular question? So, instead of marketers putting increased budget across the fold, it’s more to do with some are increasing SEM, some are increasing marketing automation, etc., and the savings will come from the areas they didn’t provide an answer for?

  2. says

    Talk about spray & pray. I suppose we can hope that, with this increased spending, companies are building in some strategy and learning, so they can fine-tune for next year. Kudos to Danny for bringing up a good point about the stats.

  3. says

    Jay, do you know what type of list the survey was sent too? Given ExactTarget’s position in email and some of the results in the survey, like open/click rates being more important than ROI, I suspected it was really a survey of email marketers, not a broader view into digital marketing. Any insight here you can add is appreciated, I’m not sure how much credence to give the data as is.

    • says

      From the survey:

      “The 2014 State of Marketing survey was conducted online from October 24, 2013, until November 1, 2013. The survey was sent to more than 48,000 marketing professionals and a total of 2,651 marketers started the survey, with 1,959 surveys completed (74% completion rate). We show survey respondents’ demographics here.”

      – 15% Technology & Manufacturing
      – 11% Agency
      – 10% Retail & eCommerce
      – 10% Financial Services
      – 10% Services
      – 8% Education & Non-Profit
      – 7% Media & Entertainment
      – 6% Healthcare
      – 3% Travel & Hospitality
      – 2% Telecommunications & Utilities
      – 1% CPG
      – 17% Other

      Looking at that, perhaps more time was needed to really flesh out the results? One week, and approximately 4% of responses from the contacted marketers seems to limit the data? If my math is right, that is! :).

      • says

        Thanks Danny. Good point on the time they fielded the survey for, I didn’t catch that part! I’m wondering where the 48k came from – was that a representative group of marketers, or was it marketers in an ExactTarget database (biased towards email I assume)?

        Conversion rates as the #1 metric, and open/click rates as the #2 metric, both ahead of ROI, struck me as an email-biased source. With house email, cost is far more fixed, so driving conversion rates and tactical response rates tend to rank higher. For advertising, content marketing, PR, social, etc, (a broader swath of digital marketing), I wouldn’t expect to see these figures so high versus ROI or brand metrics.

        • says

          Yeah, I’m guessing perhaps subscribers to their list/blog/client mix? It does need a bit of clarification, for sure. But good point on the ROI taking less importance – ah, marketers, eh? 😉

          • says

            Eric & Danny – My team completed the research and it consisted of 48,000 clients and prospects. All of our clients are digital marketers. However, we offer more than just email as a product (mobile, web personalization, marketing automation, social etc). Hopefully that helps…

  4. says

    As a co-founder of a content marketing document analytics company your assessment on the importance of / need for measurement first is music to my ears, and very much inline with the trends we’ve been observing from our end. As you pointed out however, there is a strong need to go beyond analytics alone, as not all marketers are equipped to interpret the data and draw actionable insights from them.

    What are the analytics tools you see that do a good job at moving beyond the data to provide ‘packaged insights’ to their marketing customers?

  5. MikesRoadTrip says

    Why do you think marketers are not spending money on video content? I’m surprised that doesn’t make the chart.

  6. says

    I think more and more businesses are realizing how important a multi-pronged strategy really is. The days of just hiring and SEO person or social media consultant are over. You need to have many irons in the fire if you really want great online success.

  7. Nathan says

    Thanks for this awesome post. I am new in the world of copy and marketing, and am learning a lot – especially through posts like this.

    Much luck and succes and fun towards todays online-preneurs!

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