Key Findings From IDC’s 2011 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study

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Joseph Ferrantino, Research Analyst, CMO Advisory Service

Between May 15th and July 31st, 2011, IDC’s CMO Advisory Group fielded its 9th annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study. More than 100 tech companies representing about $850B in revenue responded, making this the CMO Advisory Group’s most successful benchmarking study to date. The average revenue for companies in this data set is $9.5B, and these data include companies ranging from less than $500M to about $100B. Technology hardware, software, and services companies with both direct and indirect channel strategies are represented in the database. The following are some key findings from IDC’s 2011 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study.

Marketing investment growth in 2011 is lagging revenue growth at 3.5% and 6.5% respectively. Moreover, the 3.5% marketing investment change figure is significantly lower than tech marketer’s sentiments in January of 2011, when they reported expectations of an 8% increase to marketing budgets. In past years, IDC’s CMO Advisory Group has observed that marketing investment growth generally tracks revenue growth, but that trend has not re-emerged since the recession. Larger companies in particular are experiencing weak marketing investment growth. Companies with revenues between $3B and $9.9B are reporting marketing investment changes of only 2.1%, and companies with revenues greater than $10B are even less at 1.7%. Smaller companies are investing more heavily; companies with less than $500M, between $500M and $999M, and $3B to $2.9B in revenues have average marketing investment changes of 10%, 8.1%, and 7%. Services companies have the weakest marketing investment growth in 2011, however, with an average of -1%.

IDC’s CMO Advisory Service tracks a series of key performance indicators that marketing executives should monitor closely in their own organizations. The following are some key observations on changes to top-line key performance indicators in 2011:

  • Marketing Budget Ratios, which are calculated by dividing total marketing spend by revenue, are decreasing in 2011 because revenue growth is outpacing revenue growth.
  • IDC’s Awareness-Demand Ratio, which calculates the total amount of marketing spend dedicated to awareness building activities versus demand generating activities is at 52%, which means that the focus this year has shifted to Awareness. Last year, marketers were favoring Demand.
  • Program-to-People Ratios, which show the percentage of total marketing spend that is directed towards programs, have increased year over year to 60%. The main contributor to the increase in this ratio in 2011 is the increase in Awareness generating activities such as Advertising, which are more program-spend heavy.

Digital Marketing Program spend–defined as display ads, search ads, email marketing, digital events, company web sites, search engine optimization, and social networks–continues to increase rapidly. In 2010 digital marketing accounted for 19.3% of total program spend, but in 2011 this number has risen to 26.4%. Advertising program spend, which includes display ads and search ads in addition to traditional advertising mediums, has also increased year over year. This finding is consistent with the overall increase in Awareness activities. Marketing organizations are also allocating more spend to web site content and development this year, which is now 8.2% of the total marketing program spend mix.

IDC’s CMO Advisory Service has also observed changes to marketing staff allocations in 2011, see below for some highlights:

  • Web site content and development is not only a key area of program spend investment–marketing departments have also increased their staff allocations in this area to 5.6%. IDC believes that this is a positive change, since IDC’s 2011 Buyer Experience Study revealed that the first place prospects turn to for information is a company’s web site.
  • Marketing operations has experienced growth for a number of years, but this trend seems to be leveling off as the position matures. Marketing operations currently accounts for 5.3% of total marketing staff which is a decrease from last year’s allocation. IDC does not believe that companies are actually reducing marketing operations staff; the cause of the year over year decrease is a combination of other staffing categories increasing more rapidly and an IDC taxonomy change to include a new category called marketing IT.
  • The CMO Advisory Group has been championing sales enablement for the past few years. In 2010 sales enablement accounted for 3.1% of the total staff mix, but since then this allocation has risen to 3.7%.

These are only a few of the findings uncovered by IDC’s 2011 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study. For more information, or to participate in upcoming IDC studies please contact Joseph Ferrantino at jferrantino@idc.com.

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