STAMFORD: Brand websites, social media and online advertising are regarded as the three most effective components of digital marketing by executives in the US, according to a new survey.

The findings form part of the US Digital Marketing Spending report from Gartner, the research company. This is based on a poll of over 200 marketers from US firms with more than $500m in annual revenue in six industries: financial services and insurance, high-tech, manufacturing, media, retail and healthcare.

Some 45% cited the brand website as one of their top three responses to the question: "What activities contribute to marketing success?"

On a similar basis, 43% pointed to marketing on social networks and the same proportion opted for online advertising.

The report noted that the corporate website is unlikely to be displaced by a brand's social media presence anytime soon. "That's all the more reason for marketing leaders to continuously invest in testing and optimizing their websites, paying attention to all aspects — from customized landing pages to compelling content that encourages visitors to be engaged with your brand," argued the report.

And indeed, content creation followed next, with 35% referencing this activity in their top three responses. Then came commerce experiences on 37% and search marketing on 26%.

Email marketing and mobile marketing both attracted a response of 24%, and analytics 23%.

Overall, digital marketing budgets were found to average 2.5% of revenue, with a prediction they will increase by 9% in 2013.

And marketers are finding digital techniques more cost effective than traditional marketing, with 41% of respondents reinvesting the savings made into more digital marketing.

Some 28% said they had reduced their traditional advertising budget to fund digital marketing activities, while 27% had obtained incremental funding for digital marketing from other functions or business units.

The report called the reinvestment of savings into digital marketing activities a "smart move" and suggested "supporting a culture that is agile and keeps an open mind to testing new techniques and underlying technologies".

Data sourced from Gartner; additional content by Warc staff