Marketers at Mid-Sized Companies Struggle to Engage Audiences, Manage Tech

DNNSoftware-Challenges-Mid-Sized-Company-Marketers-May2014Marketers at mid-sized companies (50-5,000 employee) find it challenging to manage the growing number of technical vendors used by marketing, according to a report [download page] by DNN Software, and many agree that marketing has become more challenging despite all the technology solutions available. Still, concerns over marketing technology take a backseat to content-related challenges, as marketers try to break through the clutter and grab the attention of target customers.

Indeed, more than 9 in 10 find it challenging to some extent to find their target audience online. For a similar proportion, the overwhelming amount of content makes it challenging for them to stand out from the crowd – and 44% feel that the quality of content on the internet is decreasing.

Even if they can identify their audiences, more than 9 in 10 marketers find it challenging to get or hold the attention of those target customers. That’s an issue, given that respondents’ top priorities this year (among the 7 options listed) are acquiring new customers (87% citing as at least a high priority) and increasing customer retention (86%).

Marketers are turning to a number of technology solutions to assist them. Overall, 56% of respondents are using at least 5 marketing solutions, with another 43% using 1-4 solutions. Not too surprisingly, larger companies tend to be using more solutions; three-quarters of respondents from companies with 1,000-5,000 employees said they’re using at least 5 marketing solutions.

Managing those vendors is proving to be a headache for many respondents. About 7 in 10 agreed that it’s challenging to manage the growing number of technical vendors used by marketing, and 6 in 10 agreed that they need a technology expert (“mini-CIO”) on their team to help them manage marketing technology.

Additionally, 7 in 10 feel that marketing has become more challenging despite all the technology solutions available. That’s likely the result of the marketing function becoming more complex: the average respondent is responsible for 6 marketing functions, with one-quarter responsible for 10-12. The most common of those are market strategy (59% managing or directing) and online marketing (54%), while around 4 in 10 have responsibility for lead generation (38%) and marketing automation (40%).

Despite all their responsibilities and vendor management challenges, it seems as though marketers aren’t shrinking from the challenge. Some 44% plan to introduce online community management solutions this year, as 89% find it important to build or manage their online communities. Additionally, 41% plan to implement a form of social media listening, as 88% feel that it’s important to engage in existing online communities such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About the Data: DNN Software commissioned Lawless Research to conduct a study on the marketing priorities and challenges of mid-sized companies. The research focused on companies in the United States with 50 to 5,000 employees. In February 2014, 300 marketing executives completed an online survey hosted by Qualtrics, a leading enterprise survey technology provider. Survey Sampling International identified respondents from its online panel of marketing decision-makers, and Lawless Research performed the data analysis. The margin of error for the study is ±5.7% at a 95% level of confidence.