- Looking ahead to next year, 18% of marketers recently surveyed said social media will be the most effective digital marketing tactic, according to survey results made available to Marketing Dive by Ascend2. Content marketing was named by 17% of respondents, marketing technology by 16%, SEO by 15%, email by 13%, search and social ads by 11% and data management by 9%.
- The survey was conducted the week of Nov. 26 and received responses from 271 marketing professionals, most of whom anticipate increases to their digital marketing budgets next year, with 41% expecting the budget to increase significantly and 52% expecting a marginal increase.
- The key challenge to a successful digital marketing plan cited by respondents was data quality at 16%, closely followed by lead gen and user experience at 15% each, website traffic at 14%, brand awareness at 13% and sales revenue at 12%. Data quality was an outlier when comparing objectives to challenges as respondents placed it at the bottom of the list of objectives, but cited it as the most pressing challenge.
Key takeaways from survey include that digital marketing is likely to look much the same in 2018 as it did in 2017,
Social media and content marketing have been hot topics in 2017 and the survey suggests marketers' preferred tactics will be much the same. It is encouraging that so many marketers expect budget increases for digital, suggesting some of the concerns around a lack of transparency and fraud that caused some marketers to reduce budgets in 2017, are not a concern. However, it is not clear from the results whether the bullishness around digital marketing budgets is because respondents are confident some of these issues have been addressed or they weren't on the radar in the first place.
The findings provide some insight into marketers' concerns with digital marketing, with many clearly still struggling to gain a sense of confidence around data, which appears at the bottom of the list for marketing objectives and tactics expected to be important next year. However, data also tops the list of challenges as well as the list of most difficult tactics to execute. It is surprising respondents don't view data as more important as an objective or tactic given the outsized role data plays in every other aspect of digital marketing. Without usable, quality data, other digital marketing tactics and objectives would be difficult to impossible to achieve.
The breakdown on tactics highlights how digital marketing is evolving as more traditional digital channels such as email, SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) all trail social media and content marketing.