Marketers tackle change

23 May 2011

NEW YORK: Marketers are focusing on customer retention, digital media and data collection as they attempt to cope with "light speed" changes in the industry, an international survey has revealed.

Forbes Insights and Coremetrics surveyed 321 marketing and corporate management executives in the US and UK for the report, finding that many companies are adopting defensive marketing tactics.

A majority (52%) listed retaining existing customers as their "top current priority". Over one third (39%) were dedicating the "largest chunk" of their budgets towards such moves.

Attempts to attract new buyers have taken a back seat, with customer acquisition the top priority of 38%.

All of the executives questioned for the report worked for companies that generated at least $250m in annual revenues. Over three-quarters (77%) worked for a firm with $1bn-plus revenues.

Elsewhere, the study suggested digital is becoming increasingly important to marketers, with 56% of respondents planning to increase their online marketing spend.

But many companies are yet to take full advantage of the web, as just 9% are monitoring or adjusting their campaigns in real time.

Forbes Insights conceded that keeping up with these rapid changes would prove challenging to advertisers.

"Marketing's biggest challenge appears to be presenting a consistent, unified brand across multiple customer touchpoints - on the web, on social media, via mobile devices, and through traditional bricks-and-mortar," the report added.

"Marketing is moving at light speed, but few executives are watching or adjusting their campaigns and content accordingly."

Almost half of the survey's respondents are planning to increase their spending on business intelligence. Just 8% plan to cut spending in this area.

The report said: "Data has always had its place in the marketing department, but the numbers are no longer being used to just confirm (or refute) decisions. Instead, data is increasingly driving those decisions."

This chimes with a recent survey from GIA reported on Warc News last week, which found 76% of firms currently have "systematic" marketing intelligence capabilities - up from 63% two years ago.

The report also showed that one in three companies currently lacking these capabilities planned to develop them over the next year.

Data sourced from Forbes Insights/GIA; additional content by Warc staff