Is the Bloom off the Rose for Digital Marketing?

By | February 26, 2013

Did I really write that headline? Yes, I did.

I don’t mean that the trend is moving away from digital marketing. We all know that isn’t true, but there may be a slowdown in growth  due to the difficulty in measuring ROI from these efforts. Clearly, companies know they need to be marketing via social, email, and mobile marketing. But there may have been an over-eagerness to invest in these channels that is now being pulled back somewhat.

According to Econsultancy in its Marketing Budgets 2013 Report, 71% of companies surveyed plan to increase their spending on digital channels overall, but the overall percentage of their budgets being spent on digital marketing is actually down — 35% of their marketing budgets, on average. This is a slight decrease from 36% last year. The majority (56%) reported spending less than 30% of their budgets on digital channels. At the same time, 20% of respondents plan to increase their traditional offline budgets in 2013. This is up from 16% last year.

This is not a seismic shift in budget planning, but it’s significant.

Then this morning, I saw another statistic that backs up this slowdown.  According to Online Media Daily, Software & Information Association surveyed 100 marketing executives from member and other companies in Q4 12 about their social media, mobile and email use. It found only a quarter are including mobile in marketing programs. This is down from 29% one year earlier.

This doesn’t mean that marketers are moving away from mobile and online marketing. But it does mean that perhaps an over-eagerness to invest in these channels is being replaced with a more measured look at how marketing dollars should be spent. Traditional marketing channels have stuck around for a long time for a reason. It’s because they work.

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3 thoughts on “Is the Bloom off the Rose for Digital Marketing?

  1. Joe Manos


    I have data that suggests a counter view…

    Marketers are moving into big data and digital media according to the CMO Council report in December. These two major focus areas are supported with other data suggesting that 60% of marketers are looking for a service providers to help them with these shifts into new areas and they are firing companies (typically agencies) that aren’t providing the innovation factor necessary for success.

    At the end of the day it’s all about three critical components for success – the right technology, the right process and comprehensive tracking and measurement to provide the marketer with the KPI’s, ROMI and sales ready leads they seek using digital channels.

    Oh yea, one more thing, the company approaching these marketers better have a comprehensive understanding of the marketing automation drivers for success and also be able to present them to the marketer in a manner that makes it clear they are a partner that can deliver the results the marketers seek.

    Our customer base that has these capabilities is growing their digital use cases and providing the marketer with the innovative approaches that provide them with the foundation for long-term success. I’m talking about programs with lead nurturing and scoring across multi-channels that are touching very large data bases.

    The study size of some of these reports is critical because if we are talking about a sample of 100-500 marketers then we are talking about a fraction of the total marketers using innovative channels for success in North America.

    We see no slow down in site for digital channels and a significant increase in 2013 and beyond. In fact I have several study data points that suggest significant growth through 2017.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker

    Hi, Joe.

    I’ve seen these data, too, but I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. First, what we are talking about is a slowdown in growth, not a decline. Second, the CMO data talks about growth in mult-channel marketing, and this data simply talks about the mix within those channels. So these data are complementary, not exclusionary.

  3. Charlie Gray

    I have specialized in digital marketing strategy for the last 9 years and I found elements within Heidi’s and Joe’s comments both correct. Heidi’s comment about “over-eagerness to invest in these channels is being replaced with a more measured look at how marketing dollars should be spent” is to me a (good) trend that that I hope continues to grow, and is something that I am seeing as well. As a professional that managed web sites in over 60 countries, 40 languages, and over 10 million page views per month, I had to fight against the constant urge of marketers to want to do everything digital. The digital channel is simply one part of what should be an overall integrated marketing plan. And Joe’s comment about the continued growth of the digital marketing channel “Marketers are moving into big data and digital media according to the CMO Counsel report in December” to also be true; I have seen that the overall the digital space is growing. Growth in the digital space is not going to stop any time soon.

    The point is; if you are not including digital marketing as part of your companies overall marketing strategy, then you may be missing out on the next wave of innovation in marketing. You may find that your company can no compete; just as the auto industry took over from the horse and buggy.

    Another point that maybe a takeaway from Heidi’s and Joe’s comments is that companies are challenging the value of all the various digital marketing channels and that marketers are taking a more balanced approach to marketing spend that includes traditional channels and digital channels as well. At least that is my takeaway. So this leads me to ask, what should the print industry strategy be based on these industry trends?

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