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How much of your 2017 marketing budget will be devoted to digital marketing?

If you’re like most small and midsized businesses (SMBs), the answer is “quite a lot.” Some seven in 10 SMBs in a recent survey by GetResponse say their digital/web-based marketing budgets will increase; of those, 30 percent expect their budgets to “increase considerably.”

Only 28 percent of respondents in the survey say their digital marketing budgets will stay the same this year; just 2 percent plan to decrease their digital marketing budgets.

Where will most of the additional money be spent?

According to the GetResponse survey, 59 percent say they will increase spending marketing on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter this year; 50 percent will spend more on mobile marketing; and 42 percent say they will spend more on email marketing this year.

Nor is this a one-time surge in spending. Recent data from The CMO Survey predicts marketers will increase social media marketing spending by 90 percent and mobile marketing spending by 118 percent over the next 5 years.

How much should you be spending on marketing overall? According to The CMO Survey, the average company spends about 11 percent of its entire budget and about 7.5 percent of its revenues on marketing. B2C companies tend to spend slightly more on marketing than B2B companies do.

Why is digital marketing spending growing so fast? Several reasons:

  • It costs less than most traditional marketing methods.
  • It can be implemented quickly. You can have an online ad campaign up and running in literally minutes.
  • It’s possible to measure ROI (at least in some cases). While most companies in The CMO Survey admit they still struggle to quantify and measure the results of social media marketing, other online methods, such as search engine marketing and pay-per-click ads, offer an easy way to track viewers’ actions.
  • You can make changes quickly. Using the analytics you gather from your online advertising campaign, you can instantly see which images, marketing copy or offers in your ads get the best results. You can play around with ads that aren’t working as well or make changes and get immediate feedback.
  • Small companies can compete more effectively on a digital playing field. You can’t hope to afford as many print ads or TV commercials as a major competitor—but with the right SEO and SEM strategies, you can stake out a pretty big territory online.

Where are SMBs still falling short when it comes to digital marketing?

Most of those surveyed admit their social media marketing still isn’t well integrated with their overall marketing strategy. In addition, many local businesses still don’t have mobile-optimized websites. This can hamper mobile advertising as well as social media marketing, since social media is widely accessed on mobile devices these days. Worse, Google is now rewarding mobile-optimized sites with higher search rankings, which can really hurt your results if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

As for other areas where SMBs plan to spend more in the coming year, 28 percent of those in the GetResponse survey will increase spending on video production; 26 percent will spend more on search marketing; 26 percent will spend more on content creation and management; and 23 percent will spend more on data collection/analytics and website maintenance and development. (Your first step in website maintenance should be making your website mobile-friendly.)

Your SCORE mentor can help you with all aspects of marketing, from setting a budget to developing a marketing plan and updating your website.