NEW YORK: Chief marketing officers are shifting their budgets away from individual channels and placing greater emphasis on the entire customer journey, a new study has found.

The CMO Club, in partnership with IBM, conducted research among 100 of the world's top marketers – with budgets of $1bn or more – for its report Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination and stated that marketing was becoming less about the funnel and more about the journey as budgets were increasingly spread over the whole cycle.

At the same time, customer retention and advocacy were increasing in importance as the marketing focus moved away from simple customer acquisition.

"CMOs can no longer afford to dedicate a majority of their budget to customer acquisition and allocate market spend by channel," the study said. "Marketing focused solely on awareness and/or the purchase funnel is obsolete."

They are instead investing across the entire customer journey and doing so more or less evenly at every stage: "discover" took 20% of budgets in the study, with "learn" on 16% ,"try" on 16%, "buy" on 21%, "use" on 13% and "advocate" on 14%.

Social and online channels were described as "multi-tasker mediums" across all stages. And while there is a clear momentum towards digital, traditional channels remain important: spending across buying stages was roughly evenly divided between them (52% traditional, 38% digital).

The top budgeted areas were content (13%), followed by advertising (12%), digital online, events and digital websites (all on 11%).

Some 57% CMOs surveyed expected their marketing budgets to increase over the next two to three years and planned to increase spending across every stage of the buyer journey by an average 50%.

Pete Krainik, CEO and founder of The CMO Club, professed himself excited by these findings. "Marketing dollars are in a seismic shift from channel to journey with feedback metrics that allow for rapid experimentation across campaigns and tactics," he said.

Data sourced from CMO Club, MarketWatch; additional content by Warc staff