Nearly two-thirds of businesses plan to spend more time and money on social media in the coming year, more than any other digital marketing channel, according to a recent survey.

The Manifest’s survey of 501 digital marketers found that 64 percent of respondents expect to invest more in social media. Websites are the second-highest digital marketing priority, with 55 percent planning to increase their investment.

Which Digital Marketing Channels Will Businesses Invest in More?

Social media and websites are becoming the digital marketing channels of choice because they are inexpensive and relatively easy to implement, and the results are easy to measure.

A successful social media campaign can spring from a single creative mind and does not necessarily require a hefty investment. Likewise, having a professional-looking, snazzy website is much simpler and cheaper than in the past, with inexpensive drag-and-drop site builders available.

These two digital marketing channels often have a symbiotic relationship, with a clever and well-run social media campaign able to drive website traffic.

MyCorporation, which helps customers file online documents to form a corporation or limited liability company, sees its social media outreach and its website as working in tandem. MyCorporation uses amusing and conversational Twitter posts to engage with other companies. That engagement then helps drive traffic to its website.

“Investing in social media marketing and a website is important for MyCorporation because it enables us to better communicate with our customers,” owner Deborah Sweeney said. “We feel that social media and our website help make our company ‘real’ to our customers and create a deeper connection to our team and our services.”

Jurassic Sands, a company that sells play sand for sandboxes, once depended on traditional marketing but now spends nearly its entire marketing budget on digital channels, including a website, content marketing such as videos, email marketing and social media.

“We used to rely so much on catalog companies,” said Joe Sloan, Jurassic Sands marketing and communications coordinator. “But now we can rely on word-of-mouth and customers organically coming across our company online. … People can visit our site and see our videos and understand our passion.”

Another area seeing overall growth is email marketing. Some 15 percent plan to cut the amount spent on email marketing, finding other channels such as social media more effective. But another 43 percent of respondents plan to invest more in email marketing. The reason is simple: Email marketing remains an effective tool for many businesses.

The Digital Marketing Channels Businesses Are Most Likely to Cut

Display/banner advertisements (19 percent) and paid search advertisements (18 percent) are the two channels businesses are most likely to cut. The reasons frequently cited are the cost of the ads and the difficulty in tracking results.

Which Digital Marketing Channels Will Businesses Invest in Less?

“Businesses are decreasing their investments in display/banner ads because more specific targeting options are available,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, a digital marketing agency in New Orleans.

Some businesses, particularly B2C, however, continue to see dividends from online advertising and have no plans to cut their spending. Korean food retailer KPOP Foods advertises on sites such as Amazon because it provides an easier and cheaper way to reach a large number of consumers than traditional advertising.

“Our current and potential customers spend more time online than any other media channel,” said Mike Kim, KPOP Foods co-founder and chief operating officer. “Companies that are not online and advertising [online] are at a disadvantage.”

Businesses Are Increasing Their Digital Marketing Spending

Overall, the movement toward increased digital marketing is becoming a tidal wave, with 99 percent of companies planning to increase their investment in at least one digital marketing channel in the next year, according to the survey.

More than four-fifths of businesses surveyed (81%) spend at least $50,000 on digital marketing each year, and 41% spend at least $500,000.

41% of businesses spend more than $500,000 on digital marketing every year.

The percentage of their overall marketing budget that companies spend on digital marketing varies considerably, with 42 percent of survey respondents spending at least half of their budget on digital marketing. Another 38 percent spend anywhere from a quarter to half of their budget on digital marketing.

Percent of Overall Marketing Budget Devoted to Digital Marketing

“Digital marketing really needs to be viewed as a case-by-case basis,” said Jeremy Greenberg founder of web design and digital marketing agency 97 Switch.

A good rule of thumb is that the more digitally savvy a company’s customer base is, the bigger that company’s investment should be in digital marketing.

“If digital is really big for these customers, then digital marketing should be a massive amount of your budget,” said Jon Borg-Breen, co-founder and head of sales at B2B lead generation agency Symbiont Group. “If you’re in an old-school industry that doesn’t really do a lot of digital stuff, digital marketing may not make as much sense.”

Digital marketing is essential, and if businesses don’t have the resources to have a strategy in place on its own, it can hire a digital marketing agency, which 32% of businesses plan to do in the next year.

Kristen Herhold

Kristen Herhold


Kristen is a writer for The Manifest and focuses on social media, digital marketing, and advertising business trends.