The Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) 3rd Annual Marketing Trends Study* and The CMO Survey undertaken by the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association results converged on the same trend: social media becoming a viable tool in a business marketing mix.
Both reports also highlight the increased importance of social media to B2B companies (see eMarketer study summary). Note the increase in spending for the B2B services category and projected allocation in the next 12 months from August 2009 to February 2010.
In B2B often your service is the equivalence of product in B2C -- the lifeblood of the business.
Top data points
While The CMO survey provides insights on the budget investment and market composition delta, the MENG Trend Study provides a couple of data points that confirm social media is built from the inside. Mack Collier covered the statistics for 2010 at The Viral Garden (my edits):
- Companies more likely to maintain a blog than individual executives. Smaller companies excepted (fewer than 2,000 employees).
- Most executives surveyed will implement internally (71%). Of the rest, interactive agencies lead the charge with 28%, 25% vote for social media consultants, 20% for PR agencies, and 16% would go to ad agencies.
- Both large (46%) and small companies (41%) plan to hire social media consultants as their top choice if they outsource the creation of social media strategies. Next in line are interactive, PR and ad agencies.
- Larger companies that outsource social media initiatives plan to turn to interactive agencies (33%), ad agencies (31%), PR agencies (26%) and social media consultants (24%)
These data points are consistent with what I hear from agencies. I firmly believe that social media is the new agency-client relationship builder.
I do wonder if PR agencies that are building digital practices will be gaining ground -- and budgets -- over their interactive competitors. To me, the biggest challenge PR agencies face is that of measurement. In looking at the MENG Study, you can see that marketing ROI is a top priority.
The other categories that are focusing top executives are consistent with a tight and highly competitive economic environment: customer retention, brand loyalty, positioning/differentiation, branding. In other words -- hold on to your base and stand out.
Research nirvanaHow do the budgets stack up? The CMO Survey shows a nice upward trend in the next 12 months to 5 years.
Even though I haven't peeked behind the curtains of this survey, I'm thinking the 12-month increase is going towards better listening and reporting tools that integrate with existing marketing and sales automation tools.Gathering intelligence on interactions, sentiment, and geolocation will augment traditional segmentation and market research, and marry with Web statistics, then, in the 5-year time frame, mobile data.
Many businesses use a mix of custom Google Analystics reports, Omniture, Google Insight report, Hitwise for clickstream data, Coremetrics for data on customer types, and a listening tool like BuzzLogic or Radian6 (more here).
Research makes sense for customer retention, customer loyalty, branding, brand advocacy and influencer outreach. If you're not careful though, you'll have more data than you actually need to make smart decisions about dollar investments.
The best way to make sense of what you collect is to document trends. For example: changes in repeat customers and number of transactions, number of customer referrals, observable lift in other channels.
If you're in a laggard industry, chances are you're still grappling with SEO, and Web 2.0 shiny word syndrome. The more digitally savvy companies have been able to get a jump on integrating social media without the headaches of wondering about how to measure their efforts -- and track their returns.
Alterian Inc. Annual Survey 2009 of 1,000 marketers found that 40% of respondents indicated they would move 20% or more of their budget from traditional direct marketing methods to digital marketing. Digital marketing expenditures will continue to climb in US marketing investments.
According to a new Forrester Research's U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast 2009-2014, they will go from 13% in 2010, to 17% in 2012, to 21% in 2014. Who gets the largest slice in the mix? Search marketing still leads the pack, with email marketing, social media, and mobile marketing taking incremental gains.
What does this all mean to you?
On the company side, you're in good company -- look at the spike in the numbers. On the consultant side, you better have results under your belt -- MENG's Survey lists samples of previous work (94%), recommendations (91%), quality of response to RFP (82%), and cost (80%) as the top selection criteria.
Marketing in 2010 is very much about knowing your numbers and having the ability to deliver on the numbers.
[*MENG's "Top 20 Non-Member Bloggers" outreach]
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.