Marketing Trends: Email Marketing is Top Area of Marketing Investment in 2013 – And Data Integration is the Biggest Challenge, According to StrongMail Industry Survey

StrongMail, a provider of email marketing and cross-channel marketing solutions for enterprises, recently announced the results of its 2013 Marketing Trends survey, which provides unique insight into how businesses plan to budget and prioritize marketing dollars in the new year. Respondents identified email marketing, social media and mobile as the most popular channels for receiving increased investment in 2013. The survey results also highlights the importance of managing big data effectively, as data integration is identified as the top email marketing challenge for 2013.

With smart phone penetration breaking the 50% barrier in the U.S. according to comScore, and nearly half of all Facebook users accessing their accounts via mobile devices, it is clear that mobile will increase in importance as a marketing channel.

Additionally, marketing budgets overall will again rise in 2013 as 89% of respondents plan to increase or maintain spend, a slight decrease from 92% in 2012.

Survey highlights:

  • 89% plan to increase or maintain marketing spend in 2013
  • 56% plan to increase email marketing budget; 52% social media; 43% mobile; 40% search
  • 45.6% cite data integration as primary email marketing challenge in 2013; 39.5% lack of resources/staff; 36% integration with other marketing channels; 34% content management
  • 65% plan to integrate email marketing with social media; 52% with mobile
  • 50% cite increasing subscriber engagement as top 2013 email marketing initiative; 48% improving segmentation/targeting; 33% growing opt-in email list
  • 46% plan to increase email marketing spend on programs that drive social media channel growth

Marketers Continue to Struggle with Data, Resources and Integration

At 46%, integration with customer data emerged as the top email marketing challenge in 2013, followed by lack of resources and staff at 40% and integration with other marketing channels at 36%. With the rapid proliferation of data giving rise to the big data phenomenon, it's clear that marketers need to find a solution for managing the data and integrating it with other channels to drive relevant and effective messaging. The lack of resources and staff experienced by email marketers makes it even more critical to have a solution that can address their data needs today and in the future.

Investment in Mobile Marketing Increases from Last Year

Nearly two-thirds of businesses surveyed plan to increase their investment in mobile marketing programs such as mobile apps (39%) and SMS alerts (21%), a combined increase of 11% from last year. However, there is a lack of consensus on the primary value of this emerging channel. Building customer loyalty (44%) was identified as the top benefit, followed by expanded reach (34%) and awareness building (33%).

Plans to Integrate Social and Mobile with Email Increase for 2013

Two-thirds of businesses plan to integrate social media and email in 2013, and integration of mobile and email increased from 44% in 2012 to 52% in 2013. The strong ties between email marketing and social media are also underscored by the 46% of respondents who plan to increase investment in using email to drive growth in their social media channels, such as corporate Facebook and Twitter pages. The next popular areas of investment are batch promotional (39%) and lifecycle programs (37%), followed by newsletter programs (35%).

The Power of Social Media for Marketers

More than half of businesses surveyed (60%) see Facebook as the most valued social media channel for marketers, followed by Twitter and YouTube. The least valued in order are Yelp, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Google+ and Pinterest fall in the middle with 31% making them as the fifth and sixth most valuable channels for marketers.

Email and Social Media Nearly Tied for Increased Investment

Email marketing (56%) and social media (52%) were cited as the top two areas for increased marketing spend. According to the survey, 45% of businesses plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2013, and another 44% plan to maintain current levels. Only 11% of respondents plan to decrease marketing budgets, which is a slight increase over the 8% reported in last year's survey. Other areas of increased spend included mobile and search, at 43% and 40% respectively. Direct mail (37%) and tradeshows (34%) are top targets for decreased spend.

"Integration is a top trend for 2013, both in terms of accessing an increasing volume and variety of customer data, and also in integrating messaging across email, mobile, social and other channels," said Tim McQuillen, founder and CIO at StrongMail, in a news release. "The key to solving both of these problems is having the right architecture that can accommodate a growing number of direct integrations with multiple data sources, as well as the targeting and automation to leverage it properly — which is an area where StrongMail is leading the pack among enterprise ESPs."

The StrongMail "2013 Marketing Trends Survey" was conducted in conjunction with SurveyMonkey. The poll, which gathered feedback from 1,002 business executives in a wide range of industries, was conducted from November 14 – 28, 2012. See full survey data here.

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