Where Search Marketers Will Put The Money

Money-BB1The underlying customer data running across social, mobile, search and connected TVs will make a crucial impact in marketing campaigns when it comes to optimizing conversions. For advertisers, data still remains in a raw state. Many online industry execs don't quite understand the impact earned and learned from these bits and bytes.

Data identifies the most profitable channels to drive return on investments. The report -- "Surviving the Current Market Mania with a Solid 2012 Plan," released Monday -- looks at where 110 retail marketers participating in the survey will invest budgets in 2012. Lauren Freedman and an e-commerce consultancy e-tailing group led the survey, sponsored by Bronto Software.

When marketers were asked how they are likely to allocate holiday and 2012 online and cross-channel marketing budget, 30% said they would invest in paid search, followed by email at 18%; search engine optimization  (SEO), 11%; affiliate marketing, 9%; retargeting and behavioral targeting, 8%; comparison shopping engines, 7%; mobile, 4%: and other, 5%.

Marketers said they see changes afoot to revenue that ecommerce and cross-channel initiatives and tactics will contribute. Thirty-one percent said they see a significant increase from SEO; 30% from mobile; 22%, email; 22%, paid search; social media, 14%; affiliate programs, 13%; and catalog and direct mail, 8%.

While the research did not address emerging trends, one of the more interesting questions in the report analyzes the readiness of retailers to use available data that can help them make confident business decisions. Search marketers need only look at Google's introduction of Ripple to get a glimpse into the future of data. And those who attend the Search Insider Summit in Deer Valley Park City, Utah on Dec. 10 will hear it firsthand.

Survey participants were asked to rate their company's ability to serve timely messages that engage consumers on a scale from one (not at all prepared) to 10 (fully prepared). The majority -- 25% -- rated their company somewhat prepared at No. 6.  About 19% said their companies are three-quarters prepared. And 2% of companies noted either being fully prepared or not at all prepared.

When asked about the one thing survey participants could do to elevate their marketing strategy, 18% pointed to resources, staffing and funding. Thirteen percent said consumer behavior insights, customer relationship management and data, or reporting and analytics. Eleven percent said search engine optimization, paid search and local.  

The report calls mobile and social "twin darlings" for 2012. While Facebook and Twitter are in place, retailers look to expand their mobile and social capabilities during the next 12 months. Mobile dominates discussion, but it continues to be a work in progress through SMS, QR codes, and emerging technologies.

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