Where CMOs plan to spend their budgets indicates a lot about their values and aspirations. This year, Gartner polled over 600 marketing leaders across industries in North America and the UK about their budget allocations. Here are some major findings from the report:

1. Despite economic uncertainty, marketing is still a priority. Nearly two-thirds of CMOs expect their budgets to increase in 2019. Given that 57% of CEOs plan to hike marketing investments next year, according to Gartner’s CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, most of that optimism appears to be justified.

2. Technology, specifically. Nearly a third of CMO budgets are allocated to marketing technology, up from 22% of the budget in 2017. Email marketing platforms, web content management, and digital marketing analytics platforms top the CMO’s martech shopping list.


3. Also ads. The average CMO spends over 21% of his or her marketing budget on advertising. Two-thirds of that goes to paid digital channels, including search advertising.

4. Everyone is basic… Digital workhorses like paid search and email account for 25% of marketing investments. Why do marketers continue to invest in those tactics? Because they work—and their results are easy to measure, unlike newer marketing techniques such as influencers.

5. …But they want to be innovative. Marketing leaders surveyed by Gartner said they wished to achieve a 4.3 innovation maturity rating. However, the average participant scored just 2.2, a gap that’s prompting CMOs to dish out big bucks on innovation.

6. Acquisition and retention are getting overlooked. While 18% of marketing budgets go to customer experience initiatives, capabilities around retention and growth are diminishing. Customer acquisition fares even worse, cited by barely 16% of CMOs as a top-three capability. For CX strategies to be more than rhetoric, they must connect investments in experience with customer value outcomes.

7. So are ROI and market share. Many CMOs still gravitate toward metrics that have little meaning outside the marketing organization. When asked to define the most important metrics on their marketing dashboard, CMOs cited “awareness” as the most important, beating ROI and measures of customer value and customer satisfaction.

8. Personalization prevails. CMOs spend over 14% of their budgets on personalization efforts, making clear that personalization has become a vital marketing capability. Marketers should proceed with caution, however, as spend doesn’t guarantee success.

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