A marked shift toward targeted, integrated marketing approaches and a growing reliance on marketing technologies to achieve better customer relationships and ROI has been noted by a study by GfK NOP, commissioned by multi-channel marketing firm Epsilon.
The Business-to-Business Marketing Survey indicated that customer insight-based marketing is taking budget share away from traditional mass media campaigns, and that marketers are increasingly relying on strategies such as 'micro-targeting' to acquire and retain customers. At the same time, many respondents also reported some degree of inability to adequately track, measure and plan their marketing initiatives.
According to Michael Iaccarino, president and CEO for Epsilon, "The marketing world is changing and we are beginning to see a shift toward right-channel marketing based on customer behaviour and the demand for improved performance."
Although traditional marketing channels (such as TV, radio and print) continue to command the greatest share of budgets, the biggest change in spending among the survey's respondents was found to be in trackable media categories.
Currently, more than half of the average respondent's budget (55%) goes to trackable media (such as direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing and web search). At the same time, 79% reported that they are currently decreasing mass marketing budgets in favour of more targeted efforts.
Among marketing decision-makers and influencers, 70% reported that their organisations currently practice "integrated marketing". In addition, 72% claimed that cross-channel, integrated marketing is becoming increasingly important to their organisation, and 77% said they planned to increase their efforts in this area during 2006.
Meanwhile, approximately one-third (34%) said they were concerned that their organisation was not properly structured to execute a coordinated, integrated, cross-channel marketing campaign. Of those organisations that do practice cross-channel, integrated marketing, however, nearly two-thirds (62%) reported double-digit percentage growth lifts in marketing performance, with nearly one-fifth reporting a lift of more than 15% (compared to the reported typical mean lift of 11%).
Valuable data under-utilised
Nearly all respondents (98%) reported that making good use of customer data is increasingly important to their organisation, and many (70%) now structure departments to place traditional marketing budgets and interactive marketing budgets under the control of a single person.
But 95% said they still see room for improvement in their customer relationship marketing, and 38% did not believe that customer data is readily available for use in marketing efforts.
Almost half (46%) said they currently rely on rough estimates rather than data modelling to allocate future budgets to each channel, while a similar number said they examine "more than overall sales" to analyse lift from cross-channel campaigns.
A year for technology?
Although only 53% said they currently use customer knowledge and data analysis, 80% said they would be doing so within one year. And while only 49% reported using web analytics, and 46% use loyalty/rewards solutions, and 44% use campaign management and workflow tools, the future looks more positive: more than two-thirds expect to use these tools within a year, and 65% said they would be using marketing automation tools within a year (up from 41%). Depending on the technology, 21% to 37% said they will rely wholly on outside providers for these services.
When the marketers' were asked about their interest in emerging channels and techniques, so-called "Web 2.0" techniques (such as podcasting, RSS, and blogs) were left behind, compared to word-of-mouth (WOM), with 81% reporting interest in WOM. Product placement (59%) and mobile device messaging (50%) were the respondents' other main areas of interest.
But despite marketers' focus on customer experience to guide their strategies, respondents said they spend more of their budgets on brand awareness and customer acquisition (62% combined) than on retention (24%) and loyalty/reward programmes (11%).
In summary, current marketing budgets still appear to emphasize customer prospecting and acquisition rather than keeping existing customers and building more profitable relationships.
The study was based on a qualified sample of 175 US-based B2B (business-to-business) marketing executives (included CMO, VP of marketing, director of marketing, and marketing manager) who were budget decision-makers or influencers for companies whose annual revenue was at least US$250 million.