LONDON: More than 75% of marketers in the UK plan to either maintain or increase their expenditure levels during the second half of this year.

The Marketing Society, the industry body, worked with the Royal Mail, the postal services provider, to survey over 100 of its members, all of which are senior client-side executives.

Some 33% of respondents predicted budgets would expand in the closing six months of 2010, and 54% expected to follow the same pattern of investment as at present.

By contrast, only 13% of participants forecast a decline in communications support during this period.

In similar research conducted last year, just 26% of the panel believed spending would rise, and 49% thought the resources allocated to their department were likely to remain unchanged.

Elsewhere in the 2010 study, 43% of contributors stated that identifying new prospects was a primary objective, an uptick from 28% in the previous poll.

A further 19% outlined a focus on retaining existing customers, 15% emphasised brand-building, 10% hoped to encourage "upselling", 7% aimed to measure ROI better and 1.4% prioritised re-establishing lapsed relationships.

When asked to identify their three most important media channels over the coming year, social media was afforded such a status by 45% of the sample, with social networks on 42% and advocacy/word of mouth on 37%.

Email delivered a score of 28%, coming in ahead of direct mail on 27%, TV on 24%, mobile and online display on 11.3%, sponsorship on 8.5%, radio on 6% and cinema on 1.4%.

A quarter of the firms represented in the analysis intended to trim their agency roster, while less than 10% expressed the desire to partner with a greater number of shops.

"Marketers ... responded to the economic climate by choosing channels and tactics more appropriate for times of austerity," said Gemma Greaves, marketing director of The Marketing Society. "Balance is returning to the sector."

Data sourced from Royal Mail; additional content by Warc staff