I recently came across a report on ‘The State of Marketing in 2011’ and thought it might be useful to share the findings with you. I have summarised some interesting takeaways from this insightful snapshot of marketing in 2011.
Unica (an IBM Company) conducts an annual study of marketers. In this report they compare European and N. American marketers, and survey 300 people who work in businesses with annual revenues of in excess £100m (the majority actually cite revenues of $1bn or more in fact).
OVERVIEW OF 2010’S REPORT
Last year’s study was focused on the anxiety marketers felt over an increasingly rapid move toward online and digital marketing. While this was the main concern, website personalisation was also mentioned; along with dissatisfaction with technology’s ability to keep up with marketers needs. The latter concern being one I personally struggle with the most.
The main focus in 2011, which largely included similar concerns as in 2010, was the need to put all the data we create as marketers to good use. It’s clear that while we as marketers become increasingly data rich (particularly with the mass of online data we collect) we are struggling more and more to find time to analyse this data and pull out implementable improvements that we can use to increase revenue in our business.
“Marketers appear ready to bridge the gap between analytics and action. Respondents identified ‘turning data-into-action’ as their #1 organisational issue.”
“Web data is cited as being highly prized; 9/10 of marketers appreciate the value and importance of web data however less than half apply that data to campaigns. Of those that do, less than a third believe their efforts are very effective. “
The survey concludes that search marketing is still immature in relation to the rest of the marketing activities. Only a quarter of companies use any third party software for bid management and 37% rely on free tools, such as those provided by Google AdWords. Respondents also indicated that search wasn’t very well integrated with overall marketing efforts. Marketers spend more on paid search than any other online media and most of the large firms surveyed use an external agency for this function (almost 50%).
The report spoke of Unica’s belief that businesses should ‘close the loop’ in SEM value, and the sharing of vital information, such as top performing keywords, should be encouraged between all marketing functions and not isolated to the online / search manager.
Reputable agencies managing PPC campaigns will always give complete visibility to their clients and encourage information sharing between teams, especially between the paid and organic search teams, if they are separate. This is why we always promote a centralised search strategy. Success comes from an integrated approach and a shared wealth of user behaviour.
Approximately half of marketers use specialist agencies for SEO and PPC, while the rest use full service agencies who offer a much wider range of marketing services.
Further to this, and a key insight for the SEO world was that 32% of respondents cited ‘creative development and strategy’ as one of the main bottlenecks in their marketing process. Creative strategy, such as that needed for successful content-rich link building and SEO is something marketers still struggle with.
The chart shows that marketers clearly understand the need for more content rich marketing strategies, rich media marketing and social media both rely on interesting and shareable content and happily, all this activity can feed your natural search optimisation campaigns as well.
Out of the top 3 important issues to marketers, those that they felt they needed to address, surprisingly a shift to social media for marketing was not high on the list. It seems marketers are not keen to adopt paid advertising via social media just yet. European marketers were more concerned; with 27% saying it was a top 3 issue, however only 14% of N. American marketers felt this was a priority.
North American marketer’s use of social media channels however actually outpaces European usage. European scepticism seems serious with one in four European respondents says they have no plans for social media whatsoever.
Determining the correct channels, turning actions into data and attributing clear ROI were cited as the most important issues. As Social Media is still hard to monitor and derive ROI from without paid tools, this might explain why a shift to PPC on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are a low priority for marketers. Adoption of social media monitoring tools was deemed important with 26% of marketers surveyed saying they were keen to understand and derive ROI from social media – perhaps marketers want to see ROI before they actively assign time and budget to Social Media marketing. As many of the respondents were in enterprise level businesses, they may choose to monitor brand mentions and user sentiment before embarking on a shift to social media marketing.
As far as social media is concerned, those who are using it are using a more sophisticated approach. “Instead of thinking tactic by tactic, marketers are beginning to think strategically across three major areas of social content: owned (what they create), earned (what customers create), and paid (what marketers spend money for)”.
ANALYTICS & DATA
65% + felt that the use of web analytics was very important when it came to making decisions about marketing offers and campaigns however they struggled to put the data to good use. Amazingly 14% had no intention of using their web analytics at all.
Around half say they currently use individual online visitors web data but only about 22% of respondents believed they were using the data very effectively. It appears there is room for improvement in this area. Improved segmentation and the use of engagement metrics would be a good place to start for marketers who feel their use of data could be improved. In addition, social traffic should be set aside for separate analysis. According to the survey, almost 70% of respondents either use, or plan to use social media data in their segmentation.
“Too many social media strategies treat their audiences as one, undifferentiated mass. Marketers should collect social media data and attributes in their customer profiles and use this information to enrich segmentation strategies. Social data compliments traditional demographic and transactional data and the web behavioural data with insights into likes/dislikes, interests, and brand disposition.”
Unica suggest that social segmentation can be simple suggesting marketers follow these steps;
- Look at who is active where? What networks do your clients use?
- How often do they interact and comment? Optimise your strategy to target the most active and engaged customers. Those making the most noise are likely to have larger networks.
- Create content specifically for the most influential people within your social network – they have the largest reach and are most valuable people to have distribute your content.
Over 40% of marketers are already using mobile marketing tactics, with an additional 25% planning to use them this year. With more and more content being accessed via smart phones, there is no doubt that in 2012, mobile will be the main topic of conversation. I believe uptake of mobile is much less the 40% cited in this study as smaller business struggle to conceptualise how mobile apps and websites will benefit them.
Of those who do use Mobile marketing, 15% say they still don’t measure their mobile marketing efforts. This astounds me – why use this method if you cannot tell whether it is useful.
I think this report brings out some interesting points for marketers to consider moving forward. It gives us a benchmark for our own progress as we are all trying to create the perfectly balanced (and most effective) marketing mix possible.
I predict that over the next year, online advertising, particularly search, and mobile will become increasingly important to marketers and will be used in a more sophisticated way. We will all begin to use the granular data we collect from our to find out key behaviours that will allows us to sell more – using this insight can help us integrate all our on and offline marketing activities. It is only a matter of time before social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter will develop their own commercial advertising offerings further allowing us marketers to assign more time and budget on these channels. Currently using these channels effectively is difficult as the sites and their tools are basic in comparison to the tools offered by Google or Bing for example.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell us whether you think your marketing plans match those of the marketers surveyed here and if you have any predictions for the coming year in marketing. We’re keen to hear your insight.