A generation gap exists between marketers utilizing new media and marketing groups based in traditional channels, says a new report from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). One critical disconnect is that new-media marketers have difficulty seeing the potential in traditional marketing channels such as direct mail and telemarketing, while marketing groups familiar with these more established channels struggle to integrate marketing efforts across channels, as the report finds that the level and rate of adoption for digital media marketing is lower than many in the industry have predicted.
"Direct marketers in the 1980s had much more control of their message," says Yoram S. Wurmser, acting head of research at the DMA. "This is no longer possible with digital channels that allow instantaneous response and large-scale conversations. Direct marketing is now more about getting heard and having people listen than it is about reach. Customers now filter out information that they don't want to hear, and seek information from sources that they trust."
The objective of the inaugural Digital Marketing Practices and Trends Report is to help direct marketers understand what marketing organizations are actually doing, where they see themselves going, and to elicit insight into the strategic use of digital and traditional media.
A few key findings:
- Social media is pervasive (84 percent of respondents use at least one form for advertising) — Not all options, however, are equal in marketers' eyes. General social networks (e.g., Facebook) and professional social networks (e.g., LinkedIn) are the social media employed most often for advertising, cited by 58 percent and 52 percent of respondents, respectively. Roughly half of all respondents (51 percent) cite the use of microblogs (e.g., Twitter) as marketing channels; less than half of those surveyed say that they use blogs and video sites (e.g., YouTube).
- Brand-building is the number-one objective of digital marketing (cited by 71 percent) — Only 64 percent identify lead generation as a key objective, with direct sales coming in third. "This [reflects] how digital channels work," Wurmser says. "Marketers have learned that all digital channels offer a culture of interaction and two-way conversations. So to [drive] people directly to a sale is often not the most effective way of interacting in that conversation. It's much more about providing information and [communicating] a brand image."
- Paid keywords continue to reign — Keywords are the only form of digital advertising cited by more than half of respondents (62 percent), followed by banner and skyscraper ads (45 percent), affiliate networks (28 percent), hotlinks (26 percent), and sponsorships (23 percent).
"As Facebook and other social media develop their tools," Wurmser says, "we're going to see a lot of questions arise that someone is going to have to answer. Research will continue to be necessary about how we can use the information we learn about users of social media, how [to] best interact with them, [and] what forms of advertising are most effective in reaching people who've signed up for a given network."
Despite the expanding use of social media, direct mail still represents the largest slice (17 percent) of the overall marketing budget. Ten percent of budgets go to catalogs. The combined share for email (to prospects and customers) is 17 percent; the report predicts this number will grow to 18 percent in the next few months, while direct mail will fall one percentage point.
Although email represents just 17 percent of the overall marketing budget, it represents 28 percent of the messages sent in the past 12 months, a number the report expects to increase to almost 29 percent in a year. Direct mail's share of the total message count will also decline slightly from 25 percent to 24 percent.
Unsurprisingly, mobile ads enjoyed the most growth last year, relatively speaking, ascending from 4 percent of total messages sent to 5 percent. More than 30 percent of respondents plan to implement mobile ads within the next 12 months, according to the report.
"Mobile media are growing pretty rapidly," says Wurmser. "They are still a small part of the marketing budget but what we saw in the last few years we're going to see in the coming years about mobile — an inundation of information and research."
Cost-per-click and conversion rate are the two most used key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of online, digital, and internet advertising campaigns. The four top metrics for email campaigns are click-thru rate, open rate, conversion rate, and bounce rate.
The Digital Marketing Practices and Trends Report is the result of a survey conducted by the DMA in November and December of 2009. Participants were recruited at random via email and from the DMA membership list, with 541 respondents submitting at least one answer to the survey and 369 members answering every question.
Founded in 1917, the DMA is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. The association represents companies from dozens of industries in the US and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
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