Business leaders are again confident in the general direction of their marketing budgets this year, reports Selligent and StrongView in newly-released survey. The good news is that 56% of respondents expect to increase their budgets. Email appears to be a primary recipient of increased budgets, according to the StrongView report and a separate study from Campaigner.

Marketing Budgets for 2016

6 in 10 respondents reported planning to increase their email marketing spending this year, the broadest consensus of the all the channels measured. Following were social media (56.3% increasing spend) and display advertising (55.9%), with mobile marketing spend also expected to climb (51.9%).

Traditional channels fall lower on the spectrum. More than twice as many respondents plan to increase (26.8%) than decrease (11.5%) their direct mail spending. Research from MarketingCharts has found that US consumers – particularly Baby Boomers – ascribe strong purchase influence to direct mail.

Respondents were also more likely to say they would increase (16.3%) than decrease (12.9%) their tradeshow and event budgets. Research has similarly shown that in-person events are particularly effective for B2B marketers.

More respondents expect to decrease than increase their print and TV/radio advertising budgets, though fewer than half of respondents overall appear to advertising on radio and TV.

The Campaigner’s survey – conducted among more than 500 of its customers – finds email marketing to have the highest anticipated spend of the various channels listed. This could well be a reflection of the survey sample, due to the fact that Campaigner offers email marketing services. Nevertheless, for these respondents, content marketing averages out as the second-largest channel by anticipated marketing spend, followed by social media, event marketing, SEO, offline direct marketing and then mobile marketing.

Email Priorities and Challenges

According to the Selligent and StrongView survey, a closer look at email marketing indicates that respondents are most likely to increase spending for the following email programs:

  • Social media channel growth – 44.8%;
  • Promotional (batch) – 43.1%; and
  • Triggered/transactional programs – 39.7%.

Specific to lifecycle email marketing programs, the largest proportion of respondents plan increases for:

  • Welcome (67.7%);
  • Loyalty (60.6%); and
  • Winback/re-engagement (56.8%).

The report indicates that the biggest email marketing challenge heading into 2016 is leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources, though many also say that improving segmentation and targeting will be a challenge.

The biggest challenge to leveraging more data in email marketing programs is data cleanliness and quality, per respondents. That brings to mind recent survey results from Ascend2, in which improving list quality was cited as the most important goal of respondents’ list strategies. Moreover, a recent survey from Phrasee found that data quality is considered to be the top element affecting email response rates.

Finally, respondents to the Campaigner survey indicate that earning new subscribers will be their biggest email marketing challenge this year.

About the Data: The StrongView and Selligent survey was conducted from November 25 to December 9, 2015 and gathered feedback from 295 business leaders across a range of industries, with the marketing and advertising industry most heavily represented. A majority (58%) of respondents come from organizations with more than 50 employees.

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