Social media gaining ground as a direct marketing channel
Social media is increasingly emerging as a direct marketing channel and significant investment is planned in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009.
Those are among the findings in new research by email marketing company StrongMail into the marketing potential of social networking sites such as Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.
According to the survey of 500 online marketers, there is still a wide-spread land-grab for ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing, with 29% of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. However, social media appears to be emerging as a direct channel with 36% of survey respondents stating that the direct marketing department owns social media. Only 9% of the respondents report that social media is owned by public relations departments, suggesting that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5% have a dedicated social media department.
The survey also found that social media is a hot initiative with email marketers, with 66% planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48% who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative. Funding is also exceptionally strong for both channels. Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83% will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62%.
The increased focus and investment in social media underscores the importance of applying resources properly; however, there is still widespread confusion regarding how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented. 55% of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48%, establishing business goals for the program is a close second.
Based on these findings, StrongMail says it’s clear that social media has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing. The company says that the intrinsic interconnection between social media and email make it an ideal direct channel. Email continues to drive engagement in social networks by alerting members of new content and updates, and the ability to communicate relevant messages within social networks is critical to a business’ success in the medium.