By Daniel Hunter

The average marketing budget for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK is up 20% on last year, according to research by Optimus Performance Marketing.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 SMEs, marketing budgets were 20% higher in 2014 than they were in 2013. And 59% of those surveyed increased their budgets. Just under a third (31%) said there would be no change in their budgets, with just 10% saying their budgets would decrease.

The "overall increased emphasis on the power of digital/social media for the company in 2014" was the main reason for marketing budgets rising, according to 43% of those who said their budgets were up.

An increase of commissioning externally outsourced marketing tasks to other businesses and freelancers (28%), higher number of employees working in the marketing department and the creation of brand new digital roles (17%), more strategic planning of marketing plans with longer-lead goals and targets (14%) and the cost of training existing employees in new online/digital skills and qualifications (7%), were other key reasons for marketing budgets rising.

Mark Russell, Managing Director at Optimus Performance Marketing, said:

“Whilst in previous years, it may have seemed risky or ambitious for SME’s to invest substantial amounts of finances in a marketing spend, it seems from our results that the tables have now turned and marketing, particularly online marketing and social media, is an area with huge growth potential across a plethora of SME industries.”

“Increasing marketing budgets is all well and good, but without a clear understanding of all target markets and the ability to develop appropriate marketing strategies there will be a limited chance of increased future success and expansion.”

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