Spending Up, But Marketers Still Have Big Digital Blind Spots

A new report from Forrester reveals that — finally — marketers are treating digital marketing as part of their overall strategy, with 50% of the executives it surveyed planning to increase digital spending this year. And those expenditures are now equal to spending on traditional marketing.

But the survey also reveals that while most marketers are talking a good game — with 80% agreeing that their company has the skills required to be successful in digital marketing — their confidence falls apart when they need to get specific, such as their ability to recruit digital talent, collaborating across functional areas, or even aligning to-do lists across the organization.

“I was really glad to see that marketers are realizing that it doesn’t make any sense to separate digital and traditional marketing,” says Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report. “They’re getting out of that legacy mindset, and realize the way consumers live is just all part of the way they make decisions.”

But there’s still “a sense of self delusion,” he tells Marketing Daily. “On one hand, 60% say they’re doing okay. Yet when you ask them about the way marketing works with technology, there are some enormous gaps in strategy, execution and skills.”

Overall, the 89 companies included in the survey say they intend to up marketing spending 4% this year, compared with 3.4% in last year’s survey. And one-quarter intend to boost spending 5% or more. (On average, marketing spending is now equal to about 11% of the company’s revenues.)

Roughly half plan to increase digital marketing, compared with 12% who intend to increase traditional ad spending. While last year traditional marketing had five percentage points more than digital in its share of budget, “this year found a three-way tie among traditional marketing, consumer response/direct marketing, and digital marketing.” Search, display and email take up almost 60% of the digital budget, while mobile and social account for about 30%. And the marketers say mobile and social are their highest priorities this year.

Even better, the survey found that senior management is finally catching on to the digital focus, with 70% of respondents saying executives are involved in digital strategy, and committed to investing in it.

Still, most respondents say they still don’t know what works best. And while two-thirds rate their company as “effective,” less than half think they are extremely successful, or even have clearly developed key performance indicators.

Forrester’s take on those gaps? Perhaps it’s time to focus less on what they spend and more on what they need to learn. “B2C marketing leaders mustn’t allow the latest gadget-du-jour to distract them from developing an adequate level of mastery of digital programs that have become essential to their marketing mix,” the report says. “Rather than single-mindedly chasing new opportunities, the time has come to build a stronger foundation of core digital marketing disciplines.”

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2 comments about "Spending Up, But Marketers Still Have Big Digital Blind Spots".
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  1. Noble Digital from Noble Digital, April 9, 2015 at 12:33 p.m.

    Outstanding article. We are experiencing a Cambrian explosion with ad tech. 
    At the end of the day it will still come down to execution, which the article beautifully illustrates... and we preach everyday here at our video-agency.

  2. Scott Fasser from Hacker Agency, April 9, 2015 at 4:12 p.m.

    Agree with article and Noble. It's easy to chase the next shiney thing in digital (and there are a lot!) but focusing marketing communications on the specific audience and business objectives will drive touch strategy and channels - online, offline, integrated.