Marketers don't yet understand the social buzz
Fewer than one-third of marketers have a strong understanding of the social media conversations happening around their brand, with 31% having very little or no understanding at all, and 39% using ad-hoc tools to measure social media conversations, according to a brand engagement survey by Alterian.
The company's 8th annual survey polled nearly 1,500 marketers, agencies, marketing service providers and systems integrators around the world, examining marketing expenditure, social media measurement, and the level of personalisation across digital channels.
Nearly 80% of marketers admitted that they are concerned their brand is at risk from not being as engaged with customers as it could be, or that they do not have a good grasp of how online conversations are impacting their brand.
Most recognise the problem areas and are taking action to rectify them (such as dedicating a larger portion of the marketing budget to the social/digital space, allocating the necessary resources for increased message customization on the web, email and social media channels). However, a large portion still appear to be limited in their analytical competency, either having no analytical experience concerning digital media (6%), stopping at the basic analytical level (29%), or struggling to tie analytics up with campaign strategy (28%).
"The survey shows that the majority of brands lack direction on what exactly to measure and analyse, how to go about it, and how to use that information to improve their marketing efforts," said David Eldridge, CEO for Alterian. "It's crucial for marketers to seek guidance and the right tools in order to develop a strategic plan that allows them to fully engage with customers across channels. One of the first steps in this process is knowing how to create more personalised interactions via e-mail, social media and even with web visitors."
According to the survey, the majority of marketers focus on creating a customised brand experience for at least one channel, whether that's web site, direct mail, email, or social media, while only 9% admitted to not personalising any channel at all.
One-third use their company web site as a corporate brochure, while more than half (55%) concentrate on offers and campaigns to specifically drive web site interaction. However, only a small number of marketers (11%) currently tailor each web site visitor's experience.
"These figures suggest that a mass marketing strategy is still considered the norm by many," said Eldridge. "There is still much room to improve both web site and email engagement strategy through message customisation, particularly based on individual preferences and needs rather than wider segmentation."
However, marketers seem slightly more advanced when it comes to email, understanding the importance of targeted interaction in this channel. Some 43% said they use some type of segmentation strategy to deliver specific email messages to each audience, although only a small portion (13%) deliver emails based on preferences at the individual customer level, monitored in real-time.
Approximately half of the respondents projected that overall marketing expenditure would increase slightly (by 5%-25%) over the coming year, and an additional 9% said it would increase greatly (by 25% or more).
Similarly, three out of four predicted that their social/digital marketing expenditure would increase during the coming year. Of those, one quarter said it would increase by 25% or more. The estimated growth of marketing budgets suggests that digital will drive general marketing growth during the coming year.
The full 'How Engaged Is Your Brand?' survey results have been made available for free download from Alterian's web site - click here.