STAMFORD, CT: Digital marketing is now mainstream, according to a new report which finds that 98% of marketers say online and offline activities are merging.

Gartner's CMO Spend Survey 2015-16 included responses from business leaders responsible for marketing in 339 large and extra-large companies in North America and the UK.

One third of respondents said that digital techniques were now fully incorporated into their marketing operations, while 10% were expanding the role of marketing to create new digitally-led business models.

"Marketers no longer make a clear distinction between offline and online marketing disciplines," said Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner.

"As customers opt for digitally led experiences, digital marketing stops being a discrete discipline and instead becomes the context for all marketing. Digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world."

Digital commerce has also increased and now accounts for 11% of the digital marketing budget, up from 8% in 2014, as marketers become more accountable for driving results and as the marketing and selling functions move closer together.

"In many cases, digital merges these two into a single, continuous activity from initial awareness, through engagement, conversion, transaction and repeat purchase," explained Jake Sorofman, research vice president at Gartner. "Marketers can now tie spend to revenue. In fact, it's becoming a mandate."

And as marketing budgets rise – respondents expected these to account for 11% of company revenues this year, up from 10% last year; and two thirds anticipated further increases in 2016 – digital commerce has been earmarked as an area for technology investment.

Almost two thirds of marketers (64%) ranked this in their top five priorities; only social marketing (65%) was higher. Marketing analytics (61%) and customer experience (56%) were next with advertising operations (54%) down the list.

But bigger budgets also come with bigger expectations, Sorofman noted. "As customer buying journeys and customer expectations expand, so, too, does marketing's scope of responsibility," he said.

"As a result, the marketing remit now often includes driving broad-mandate customer experience, digital commerce and innovation initiatives."

Data sourced from Gartner; additional content by Warc staff