A new survey has uncovered how marketers plan to spend their budgets in 2020.

The survey, by business intelligence company the Incite Group, questioned 950 marketers. It aimed to understand their goals, priorities and the ways they plan to allocate budgets in the coming year.

Here we look at the findings. What do they tell us about key areas for marketing in 2020?

Marketing budgets are increasing

The survey results show that for the vast majority, there will be more to spend on marketing in 2020 than in 2019.

46.2% expect budgets to increase ‘slightly’ while 18.5% anticipate them increasing ‘significantly’. For 26.9% they will stay the same. 7.3% expect them to decrease slightly, with 1.1% expecting them to decrease significantly.

Automation and analytics are the big areas for investment  

Marketing automation is the area where budget will be focused; 53% say this is their biggest investment priority. Not surprising, when the benefits of automated solutions are increasingly recognised by marketing teams.

49.4% will prioritise analytics and business intelligence solutions. Social media monitoring is a priority for 40.5%, while ‘creating an ability to engage with customers in real time’ is a key area of investment for 40.2%.

These findings are mirrored in a question about the solutions marketing teams use, or plan to. When asked which solutions they currently have or plan to implement within the next 12 months, marketing automation platforms came in second. 41.4% either use or plan to use an automation platform.

53% use, or plan to, a content management platform. 30.6% mention a customer data platform – probably not surprising given the advent of the GDPR and its resultant focus on data accuracy (for more on this, read this assessment of how marketing has changed in the year since GDPR).

Brand awareness and storytelling are priorities

The survey asked respondents about their biggest marketing priorities over the next 12 months.  68.8% say that ‘building brand awareness and storytelling’ is their biggest priority.

‘Understanding customer data and journey mapping’ is the second biggest priority, cited by 63.2%. 52.5% plan to explore new channels and embrace new forms of content. Sales lead generation is a priority for 50.4%.

What can we learn from the survey?

Understanding your peers’ and competitors’ priorities is always useful.

It’s hugely valuable to have insight into how others plan to spend their money – should you be doing the same? Are there lessons you can learn from their areas of focus?

Maybe they have considered things you haven’t. If brand is so important to others, should it be to you? Are there ways you can improve your own brand awareness, consistency and governance? Would you benefit from a brand guardian to protect your brand standards?

If your competitors are investing in marketing automation and content management solutions, should you be doing the same? Automation can make agency briefing easy, help you design user-friendly web content, improve cross-team collaboration and ensure brand consistency.

Social media monitoring is another priority area: how can you up your game here? GDPR was predicted to cause a shift towards other digital marketing – particularly SEO and social media. If you are doing more on Twitter, Linkedin and other social media platforms, monitoring your activity and its impact is a vital step in fine-tuning your approach.

Should you join other marketers in prioritising automation?

Automation is clearly a key priority for marketing leaders next year. Significant numbers plan to invest in their automation solutions; many already make use of automation, or plan to in the near future.

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