The majority (85%) of marketers and service providers plan to increase their online marketing spend in 2007 despite the fact that only 29% of them carry out a full analysis of their e-mail campaigns and 65% don't yet integrate e-mail with other channels, according to a transatlantic survey by Alterian.
The annual survey, which polled more than 500 direct marketers, marketing services providers and agencies, revealed that the planned increase in online marketing spend represents the largest expected increase since the survey began in 2003.
Offline to benefit too
But while online direct marketing will receive the largest investment increase, 51% of survey respondents also plan to boost their offline direct marketing spend in 2007. When asked about specific channel investments, 81% plan to increase spending on e-mail marketing, 50% say they will spend more on direct mail, and 45% will increase their budgets for personalised landing pages (on their web sites).
Despite the strong spending indicators for both online and offline channels, 94% of respondents who said they will decrease offline spending said they will also increase online spending.
E-mail can only improve
The 2006 survey confirmed a growing emphasis on the integration of e-mail marketing: 35% of respondents reported that their e-mail activity was integrated with all other channels, while 26% of respondents said their e-mail is at least integrated with other online channels. Only 18% reported that e-mail is still used as a standalone channel.
Despite progress on multichannel integration, 70% of respondents said they apply basic or no analysis to any of their e-mail campaigns. Only 29% claim they carry out full analysis. At the service provider level, marketing services providers reported the highest percentage, at 32%, of those carrying out full data analysis on e-mail campaigns. Agencies have the lowest percentage of those carrying out full analysis (23%) but reported the highest percentage (57%) of those carrying out basic analysis.
The survey also found a correlation between the level of channel integration and analytical activity. Those with the most advanced level of online and offline integration also indicated that they are performing the most advanced levels of analysis, with 45% of respondents topping both these segments. Conversely, those not integrating e-mail fully with other online or offline channels are doing the least analysis, with only 12% of respondents using e-mail as a standalone channel completing full analysis of e-mail campaigns.
Respondents named their main challenges to improving integration: According to 36%, the top obstacle is that online and offline activities are managed by separate departments, while 32% reported difficulty integrating e-mail marketing activity with the customer database.
E-mail campaign management
And the decision over who manages an e-mail campaign depends on its volume, it seems. While e-mail campaigns are growing in sophistication and frequency, just less than half (44%) of marketers manage their e-mail activities in-house, while 29% outsource it to e-mail service providers, and 15% send the work to agencies. Only 11% use marketing services providers.
With regard to e-mail campaign volumes, 71% send less than 1 million e-mails in an average month. In fact, marketers are managing the largest percentage of small (less than 1 million) and large (over 10 million) campaigns in-house, but they still tend to outsource mid-size campaigns (1-10 million) - mainly to e-mail service providers, followed by agencies, and then marketing services providers.
The 2006 survey showed positive trends for the marketing industry in general, and a well clear shift in spending and activity as marketers are moving toward true integration backed by analysis and successful supplier relationships.
But, according to David Eldridge, CEO for Alterian, "Challenges remain, but these results certainly indicate tremendous opportunities for marketers to use e-mail and online marketing techniques, linked with traditional direct marketing tactics, to establish competitive advantages and serve customers better than ever."