As we move into the New Year, businesses will reevaluate their marketing budgets for 2024, deciding how much money they will spend on various marketing tactics.
To understand how UK businesses use marketing techniques, we surveyed 200 UK business owners (via YouGov) across various sectors, including construction, manufacturing, professional services, eCommerce, hospitality and technology.
We uncovered the most popular marketing tactics, aswell as shocking figures showing a lack of marketing budget in particular areas. Keep reading to find out the results, aswell as top tips for creating your 2024 marketing strategy to increase your online presence and boost search engine visibility.
The most utilised marketing tactics in 2023
Social media marketing topped the list, with over a third of UK businesses (34%) utilising this tactic. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as there are over 62 million users on social media in 2023, which forms an extensive collection of potential customers within easy reach through targeted organic and paid posts. In particular, Facebook and YouTube have the highest number of users.
It’s encouraging to see 26% of businesses using email marketing, as this technique can be a great way to build brand awareness and encourage website clicks amongst a select audience. On the other hand, over 80% of businesses do not use either SEO (81%) or content marketing techniques (84%), which are essential for improving search engine rankings and increasing relevant website traffic.
Shockingly, almost 9 in 10 UK businesses (88%) do not use PR tactics, which ranked low on the list. These businesses should consider how they can take advantage of traditional and digital PR campaigns, which are proven ways to grow brand awareness and increase online visibility.
We recently worked with toy retailer The Kid Collective and developed a range of PR campaigns and mailers, along with SEO-optimised website content, to drive traffic by increasing keyword rankings. From this activity, we have generated 321 pieces of coverage and 318 backlinks in publications like Mail Online and Oxford Mail, and as a result of this press coverage and increased brand awareness, the retailer saw an 87% increase in total revenue.
Annual marketing budgets for 2024 revealed
Our study revealed that one in two business owners (52%) do not currently have a solidified annual marketing budget.
As we move into the New Year, the absence of a marketing budget in over half of businesses is a concern. It will be unclear for internal teams if the businesses can or will invest in specific marketing techniques or enlist external support. Businesses of all sizes must allocate the necessary resources to tap into seasonal trends, important awareness days or forward features for wishlist publications if they want to stay ahead of the competition.
The second most common budget for UK businesses is less than £5,000 annually, which 37% of businesses plan to invest. While a low budget may be tempting for a smaller business, investing in strategic PR and marketing campaigns will be vital for growing businesses as we move into 2024.
Less than one in seven (<13%) companies surveyed admitted to having a marketing budget of over £5,000. The least common annual marketing budget is between £20,000 and £30,000, which less than 1% of businesses have in place.
Limiting a marketing budget may be tempting during low sales or quieter seasonal periods, but this will slow overall growth, as consistent and targeted marketing is the most effective way to reach potential customers and retain existing customers.
Marketing costs can include a range of items, including surveys for data-led PR campaigns, advertorial slots in wishlist publications, PPC costs to increase online visibility for target keywords or paid social media posts. Having a larger marketing budget at the outset allows marketing teams to test different marketing tactics and find the most effective methods for the business.
Where businesses plan to cut expenditure in 2024
Interestingly, we found that over a quarter (26%) of businesses plan to reduce costs in one or more areas next year, while 17% will consider it.
We asked the businesses to dig deeper into where they want to cut expenses. Reducing spend on office and workspace was the most popular choice amongst those surveyed (28%), while 25% plan to eliminate marketing costs, and 18% plan to cut PR expenditure.
The decision to reduce PR and marketing spend may be fuelled by businesses seeing a low ROI (Return on Investment) from their past or current tactics. To get tangible results from your business’ marketing, it’s essential to assess your growth goals and select the most appropriate marketing techniques to achieve these.
For example, if you are an eCommerce company looking to promote a new product line, crafting hero PR campaigns targeting national publications can increase backlinks to key product pages. On the other hand, if you are a manufacturing business looking to improve online visibility, developing sector-specific thought leadership content for niche target publications would be an effective approach.
Significant risks are associated with completely cutting PR and marketing spend, including losing important keyword rankings, damaging brand awareness and making it harder to build up the same momentum when you choose to increase your budget again.
An experienced PR and marketing agency will help you understand the value of a healthy marketing budget and choose the most suitable techniques to drive growth.
How to master your marketing strategy for 2024
With the absence of a marketing budget in over 50% of UK businesses, there is a need for more awareness of how different tactics can support growth and help businesses reach more potential customers.
There are several steps to creating a standout marketing strategy in any industry:
- Set clear KPIs to measure the success of your campaigns
- Competitive research to identify gaps in current marketing techniques
- Keyword research to uncover the questions and concerns of your target audience
- Decide the most relevant channels for your messaging
- Create a content plan, considering key internal updates, dates and seasonality
- Allocate a budget and have a clear understanding of who will undertake the content creation.
- Analyse the success of your techniques and use insights to enhance your marketing strategy moving forward
Working with an expert like Wild PR will help you determine the most impactful channels and select a budget that works for you. We can support you in creating impactful and engaging content and regularly analyse the impact on your website traffic, keyword rankings and online presence.
Contact us today to discuss how our Wild Ideas can support your business in 2024, or book a 30-minute introductory call with Katrina Cliffe.