Blog post

Comms Budget Benchmark Survey Helps Leaders Make Informed Decisions

By Brianna Lux | September 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

MarketingCommunicationsCommunications Function and Team LeadershipMarketing Operations

Do you smell that? Maybe it’s pumpkin spice lattes, or maybe it’s fall planning season for Communications leaders!

Around this time every year, I have conversations with heads of Communications about their strategies, budgets, org structures, and resource planning. One thing I always recommend is that they take Gartner’s Communications Budget Benchmark Survey (Gartner subscription required). 

What is it?

The Communications Budget Benchmark is an interactive, online tool based on data from Communications functions at organizations across the globe. The categories of metrics for comparison include:

  • Budget metrics: Overall Communications budget, adjusted budget (to control for components that vary) and budget as a percentage of organizational revenue
  • Staff metrics: Communications staff (overall and adjusted) and relative size of the function per 1,000 employees
  • Activity responsibility: Number of discrete activities Communications owns, percentage of functions responsible for each type of activity and budget for those activities
  • Expenditures breakdown: Labor, operational, and agencies/services budgets plus spend per employee and across Communications activities

My clients have used this data to justify existing budget and staff size or make a case for increasing them. Many of my clients also like to understand what percentage of other Comms teams own various activities like PR or social media or how many FTEs perform each activity. This is especially helpful as they are rethinking their team’s org structure. 

Not only do some of my clients complete this survey annually, but the survey has also proven to be especially valuable for Communications leaders who are new to role. The Budget Benchmark Survey, along with Gartner’s Communication Score (Gartner subscription required), gives new leaders actionable insights and data to assess their function and make strategic decisions. 


We’ve also updated the platform to make the survey much easier to take and have added some exciting new features! You can complete the whole survey yourself or “phone a friend” by delegating a section through the platform for a colleague to complete. Additionally, you can save your data to easily adjust your numbers year after year for an updated report.

Even more importantly, this is now a live benchmark, which is a massive upgrade to the benchmark survey. As more data comes in from other organizations, the benchmarks will update in real time — so check back in a few months to see if the benchmarks have changed! As we build the benchmarks, you’ll also be able to do various cuts, such as by industry, using the interactive tool. 

What’s next?

This year’s Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey found that marketing budgets as a proportion of company revenue went from 11% in 2020 to 6.4% in 2021, which will clearly have a major impact on marketing operations. Will we see something similar for Communications? Take the Communications Budget Benchmark Survey to find out! 

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Leave a Comment