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Despite the cultural phenomenon that Facebook and MySpace have become in the past few years, 55% of top-brand CMOs said they’re not too interested (22%), or not interested at all (33%), in incorporating these and similar social-networking sites into their marketing strategies, according to a survey by Epsilon.

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Overall, strategic use of social-networking platforms also remains low, even among those who say they have interest in them. Only 10% percent of CMO survey respondents said they already are using these social sites in their marketing plans, the survey found.

“These sites narrowly appeal to college and high school students, providing a challenge as far as measuring results and yielding a limited amount of actionable data,” said Steve Cone, CMO of Epsilon.

Marketing executives are much more interested in other elements of the social-media mix, such as internet forums (52%), webcasts and podcasts (47%), email (47%), blogs (37%) and webinars (52%). All of these approaches outscored Facebook and MySpace (35%), in terms of being social media elements that marketing executives said they are very interested or somewhat interested in using.

Paradoxically, 27% of CMOs identified social networking and word-of-mouth – ahead of all other elements of traditional or digital marketing – as the tool they most want to introduce to their marketing mix to compensate for anticipated budget cuts, and 12% of marketers doing it now said it would be the “last to go” in the face of budget cutbacks.

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Other key survey results:

  • CMOs bracing for budget reductions identified email as the channel they are least likely to cut back vs. any other tool in the traditional or digital marketing mix.
  • While more than half of the companies already use consumer data mining, 23% more said that they plan to utilize the technology in the next 12 months.
  • 55% of those not already employing web analytics plan to do so in the next 12 months.
  • Customer loyalty and rewards programs remain polarizing, with 33% of companies already using them and 17% planning to use them in the next year, but 50% not using or planning to use.

Kevin Mabley, SVP, Epsilon Strategic Services, said marketers still place value on email. “According to our latest benchmark statistics, retailers see 20 cents in e-commerce revenue for every email delivered, showing the measurability and profitability of the email channel in times when people are seeking those two attributes.”

Spending Down for 2009

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The CMO survey results also indicate the economic crisis will diminish marketing spending in 2009. Some 93% of marketing executives said the current state of the economy will have a moderate or significant impact on their marketing efforts in the next few months. Regarding advertising expenditures, 70% said they’ll decrease spending.

About the survey: The late-October, 2008 online survey was completed by top consumer and business-to-business marketing executives at 180 brands whose annual revenues range from $250 million to over $10 billion. The survey was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, of New York. Epsilon released the results of its first CMO survey in September 2008.

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