Marketers Lacking Digital/Social Media Analytical Skills

Global digital marketing spend is expected to increase in 2011, but consumer engagement levels and analytical skills remain limited across channels, according to Alterian’s eighth annual marketer survey.

The survey polled nearly 1,500 marketers, agencies, marketing service providers and systems integrators worldwide. This year’s topic, ‘How Engaged is Your Brand?’, examined marketing expenditure, social media measurement and the level of personalisation across digital channels.

About half of survey respondents estimate that overall marketing expenditure will increase slightly (5-25pc) over the next year, and an additional 9pc said it will improve significantly (25pc or more). This, according to Alterian, suggests an opportunity for industry growth throughout 2011.

Similarly, three in four estimate their social/digital marketing expenditure will increase over the next year. Of those, one quarter is expecting it to rise by 25pc or more. The estimated growth for this sector of the marketing budget is indicative that digital will drive general marketing growth in the coming year, said the company.

However, the survey reveals that less than a third of marketers have a firm understanding of social media conversations happening around their brand. In fact, seven in 10 indicated they either have very little to no knowledge (31pc) or use a few ad-hoc tools to track and measure social media conversations (39pc).

Nearly 80pc admitted they are concerned their brand is at risk for not being as engaged with customers or failing to have a good grasp of how online conversations are impacting their brand. The majority said they recognise the problem areas and are taking actions to rectify them, such as dedicating a more substantial portion of the marketing budget toward the social/digital space to gain the necessary resources for increased message customisation across web, email and social media.

However, the survey said a significant portion of marketers appear to be limited in analytical competency, indicating they either have no analytical experience concerning digital media (6pc), stop at the basic systematic level (29pc), or struggle to tie analytics back to the campaign strategy (28pc).

According to the survey, the vast majority of marketers focus on creating a customised brand experience for at least one channel – website, direct mail, email, social media – with only 9pc admitting to not personalising any channel.

A great portion of those surveyed regarding direct mail seemed confused as to the best options for postage to send a direct mail campaign. Most could not name and outlet to purchase postage outside of a local post office. The majority was unaware purchasing postage was available online.

A third of marketers surveyed said they use their company website as a corporate brochure, while more than half (55pc) concentrate on offers and campaigns to specifically drive website interaction. Only a small number of marketers (11pc) tailor each website visitor’s experience.

“These figures indicate that a mass marketing strategy is still considered the norm by many,” said David Eldridge, Alterian’s CEO. “There is still much room to improve both website and email engagement strategy through message customisation, particularly based on individual preferences and needs rather than a particular segment. However, marketers seem slightly more advanced when it comes to email, understanding the importance of targeted interaction in this channel.”

Forty-three percent of respondents said they use some segmentation strategy to deliver specific email messages to each audience, although only a small portion (13pc) deliver emails based on preferences at the individual customer level, monitored in real-time.