As the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to evaluate what components of your digital media strategy worked—and which ones didn’t—in 2019. This can help you plan a more focused and effective digital marketing plan for the coming year.
To this end, it can be helpful to understand what worked for other marketers, where they faced their most critical challenges, and how they plan to allocate marketing resources in the coming year.
Respondents were split fairly evenly between B2B and B2B marketers (43% and 38%, respectively) with the remaining respondents focusing on B2C and B2B equally.
Organization size varied, though skewed on the smaller size with nearly 60% of respondents indicating they had fewer than 50 employees while 18% had more than 500. The remaining 23% of respondents fell somewhere in between, indicating they had between 50 and 500 employees in 2019.
So, what will digital marketing look like for these professionals in 2020? Let’s start with the primary objectives.
Over 50% of Ascend2’s respondents indicated that the primary goal for their digital marketing initiatives next year revolves around sales.
This includes increasing leads and customer acquisition as well as increasing customer engagement which can improve new sales as well as impact up-selling and cross selling for B2B marketers who are focused on an account-based marketing approach.
While there questions may remain regarding which digital marketing tactics were the most successful in the past year, there was a near unanimous consensus that investing in digital marketing pays off.
Fully 96% of respondents indicated that they found their digital marketing plan either somewhat successful or very successful, with just 4% indicating that it was unsuccessful.
Acend2 asked respondents to compare the effectiveness of digital media with traditional media and the response was hardly surprising, with nearly 90% of respondents indicating that digital was either significantly or somewhat more effective than traditional media.
Just 12% of respondents indicated that traditional print/broadcast media is somewhat more effective than digital and a mere 1% held out for traditional over digital as being significantly more effective (I want to meet these people).
Now for the good stuff—what digital marketing tactics worked best this year? The most interesting findings here (in my opinion) are that digital media has expanded beyond ads, to incorporate tactics such as AI and chatbots, personalization, and content marketing.
Even so, the most effective tactic is one of the oldest in digital media—search engine optimization—with 49% of respondents listing this as their top tactic this past year.
Social media and blog posting came in at number two, with 47% of respondents indicating that this strategy was effective for them. Other winners included search and social ads (43%), personalization/content (43%), and Email/newsletters (42%).
The growing role of marketing technology and how it contributes to the success of marketing’s effectiveness was evident in this year’s survey results, with 90% of respondents indicating they will continue to invest either moderately or significantly in martech in 2020.
Additionally, 15% plan to start investing in martech in 2020, while only 4% of luddites indicated they have no plans to invest at all (again, I want to meet these people).
Marketers use variety of different success metrics to determine which tactics and investments worked for them this past year.
Half of respondents listed cost per acquisition (CPA) as the most effective measurement of success, followed by conversion rate (46%), engagement rate (45%), and Campaign ROI (37%).
Other metrics measured included cost per lead, channel-specific traffic, and brand sentiment.
Based on the Ascend2 survey, digital marketing tactics will once again factor largely into both B2B and B2C marketing strategies in 2020.
The focus on improving sales by generating more leads and increasing new customer acquisition will continue to be the biggest driver of digital media plans, with trusted tactics like SEO, social media marketing (paid and organic), and content becoming more effective through the use of martech tools that increasingly leverage the power of AI, chatbots and personalization.
Over 70% of companies surveyed indicated that the most effective strategies combine both in-house resources and outsourced specialists, while 18% plan to use in-house resources only and just 11% plan to fully outsource to specialists.
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