Social, Not Search, Gaining More Of Marketers' Budgets

Marketers are willing to open their pockets and trust Google, Bing, and Yahoo to charge the appropriate cost per click while protecting their brand search term, but this year they will open their wallets just a bit wider for Facebook.

While 41% of retailers say paid search and 47% of retailers cited email marketing as being in their list of top five marketing overall strategies, only 13% and 16%, respectively, said it is their best way to acquire new customers, according to the report released Wednesday from the National Retail Federation and Forrester during

The annual State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising report suggests that organic search engine optimization (SEO) will see a boost this year in terms of investment, but not as much as social media.

About 53% of marketers said they will increase the amount they spend on SEO this year compared with 2015. Some 37% said they will spend the same on SEO, with 3% saying they will spend less and 6% who don't know.

Paid search for desktop and mobile also got strong support, with 52% saying they will spend more; 27% saying they'll spend the same; 8% less; 3% saying they don't know; and 10% saying they don’t' use them.

And while SEO and SEM budgets are on the rise, most of the money will go toward social. In fact, 76% of marketers participating in the study said they will spend more, 16% the same, 3% less, and 5% don't know.

Overall, the report estimates that 92% of retailers invest in social media marketing to at least some degree, second only to email. Fully three-quarters of retailers surveyed are spending more on social media marketing in 2016 than in 2015, more so than any other marketing tactic. 

But when asked to rank their top "fastest-growing tactics," 10% of marketers named Facebook; 14%, product listing ads; 12%, email to house list; 10%, SEO; 6%, SEM; 6% behavioral targeting; and 4%, display advertising.

Interestingly, 50% of marketers said they will spend more this year on Google Product Listing Ads and Bing Product Ads, 26% will spend the same, 3% less, 3$ don't know, and 18% don't use the ads.

When marketers were asked to reveal their company's annual marketing budget related to online media, 18% said they plan to spend less than $10,000 this year; 14%, between $10,000 and 99,999; 21%, 100,000 and 999,999; 21%, between $1 million and nearly $10 million; and 25%, $10 million or more. The results based on 62 retailers do not equal 100 because of rounding out the numbers, according to Forrester.

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