For years, marketers have slowly dipped their toes in the water of digital marketing. They’ve fought against a difficult-to-pin-down ROI, bosses who didn’t “get” social media or blogging, and a deluge of data they didn’t know how to analyze. The good news? The dust is settling, and marketers (and their bosses) are eager to take their marketing to the next level.
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I recently reviewed the Digital Marketing Strategy: Research Summary Report by Ascend2. In it, I found heartwarming data that tells me that our digital marketing efforts are finally paying off. Rather than shying away from more investment in online marketing, 57% of those surveyed will increase their spend in the coming year.
Marketers are zeroing in on what they really want, too. Top priorities for participants in the coming 12 months include:
- Increasing customer engagement – 49%
- Growing sales revenue – 49%
- Increasing leads for the sales team – 48%
There weren’t any surprises in the tools marketers will use to accomplish these goals. Email topped the list, as many still consider it the easiest to implement and most effective at reaching potential customers. Blogs, SEO, social media, content, paid search, and mobile will also be used to reach consumers.
What’s Getting in Our Way
Like with any goal we set, there tend to be obstacles that try to keep us from reaching the pinnacle. In this case, not having an effective strategy was an issue for just over half of marketers. Other challenges included having an inadequate budget, lack of training, and inability to prove ROI (interesting thing about that is it is much easier to capture analytics with today’s technology and measure ROI). Useless metrics and analytics also reared its head on the list of challenges.
Each of these issues has been dealt with by successful brands, and I am confident that other businesses (especially small biz) will also find ways around them to achieve their objectives. Marketing is becoming more user-friendly by the hour, so those marketers who feel incapable of using technology to analyze data or reach customers will soon find solutions that they’re comfortable using.
Asking for Help
Maybe one solution to those challenges is to outsource to a third party who can supplement existing in-house skills in order to improve performance. While only 5% of companies completely outsource their marketing, 57% have found the perfect balance between keeping some marketing activities in-house and outsourcing the rest.
Doing so expands the skillset of a brand’s marketing department, provides help in areas where their staff are weak, and introduces them to cutting-edge techniques employees might not have known about.
What this information tells me is that marketers are growing more confident in their ability to use online tools to capture the attention of potential customers, build trust there, and convert leads into sales. I look forward to seeing where 2015 takes us. There are sure to be new and exciting developments in the tools and tactics we use!
Brenda S. Stoltz is the CEO and founder of Ariad Partners and has over 20 years of experience in helping companies of all size, from Fortune 100 to startup, generate leads, increase sales and accelerate value. Through Ariad Partners, Brenda provides creative, practical, sales-driven integrated inbound marketing and strategic planning services to software, technology, manufacturing, professional services firms, and other industries.
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