New research shows that with business confidence continuing to rise, over half of small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK (59%) have increased their marketing budgets over the last year.

Conducted by Optimus Performance Marketing, a survey of 1,149 British companies with 20 employees or more showed that SME marketing budgets are 20% higher this year compared to 2013.

A total of 31% claimed the money they have available for marketing had stayed the same over the last year, while just 10% told the online agency of a decrease.  

The 59% that had seen an increase were also asked to submit their reasons for this rise in spend, and it was here that a long-term focus became apparent.

Strategic investment

Seeing value in embracing new channels, the rising importance of digital marketing was cited as the biggest reason for the increases – chosen by 43% of the group.

Having to up the amount of tasks outsourced to other groups, such as marketing agencies, was chosen by 28%, while further readings showed that SMEs are investing now to prepare themselves for what could be a bright future.

Optimus discovered that 17% of SMEs planned on using their marketing spend to create new digital roles, 7% were looking to train existing employees in new digital skills and 14% claiming that longer lead goals and targets had left them needing to invest more in marketing.

Mark Russell, managing director at Optimus Performance Marketing, said the results prove that online is an area with “huge growth potential” for UK SMEs.

SMEs power Britain forward

Despite not boasting the same financial clout as their larger counterparts, the sheer volume of SMEs in the UK means they account for 49.8% of the UK economy, according to estimates in 2013 from the House of Commons.

Last year there were 4.9 million businesses in Britain, with 99% belonging to the SME category.

These businesses have also made a huge impact on the UK jobs market by employing over 14 million people.