Marketers Continue to Rate Email the Most Effective Digital Marketing Tactic

Ascend2-Most-Effective-Difficult-Digital-Marketing-Tactics-Sept2014The accolades keep coming in for email marketing. At various times this year, surveys have found both US and global marketers rating it the most effective digital marketing tactic and the one that delivers the best ROI. Now, a new survey report [download page] from Ascend2 and its Research Partners finds email again rated the most effective type of digital marketing – and the least difficult to execute.

It may well be that email’s effectiveness is related to its perceive ease  – although the extent to which email marketing is “easy” depends very much on the sophistication of the strategy. Even so, the report finds less enthusiasm for the effectiveness of paid search, despite its being lower on the totem pole of difficulty.

Email’s perceived effectiveness may instead be tied to its popularity – as research suggests it’s one of the most commonly used digital tactic by US marketers (see link above). Or, it may reside at the top of the effectiveness rankings simply because it is, indeed, the most effective. (See here for MarketingCharts’ research into why consumers open emails from brands.)

In any case, beyond email, websites/blogs and SEO get their due, while social media is ahead of content in terms of perceived effectiveness. One of the key problems with social continues to be ROI measurement; that also tends to be an issue in the content space, where marketers appear to be less than pleased with their performance thus far.

Interestingly, social media and content marketing emerge as the most difficult types of digital marketing to execute, per the Ascend2 survey, with that result perhaps related to the plethora of distribution channels.

In other results, survey respondents identified a variety of important objectives for their digital marketing strategy in the year ahead, including:

  • Increasing customer engagement (49%);
  • Increasing sales revenue (49%);
  • Increasing leads for the sales team (48%); and
  • Reaching new customer segments (48%).

By contrast, they appear less concerned with reducing marketing (11%) and customer service (5%) costs.

For the time being, almost all respondents rate their digital marketing as being very (27%) or somewhat (62%) successful in meeting their objectives. Even so, roughly 7 in 10 believe that their digital marketing effectiveness continues to improve, while one-quarter feel that it isn’t changing or that they’ve reached a plateau.

Not surprisingly, the most challenging obstacle to digital marketing success is the lack of an effective strategy (51%). Of the options listed, the lack of marketing software (13%) was the least-cited challenge; separately, the survey results indicate that about three-quarters of respondents are either making limited (52%) or extensive (22%) use of marketing software.

Looking ahead, 57% of respondents plan to increase spending on digital marketing budgets.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 333 marketing, sales, and business professionals from around the world.