Last month we published Part 1 of the results from BroadBased’s first-ever digital marketing survey of small business owners, marketers and executives. The response to the survey so exceeded our expectations that we’re back this month with Part 2 of the findings, offering more valuable insights into which strategies worked for companies in 2017, which didn’t and the respondents’ digital direction in 2018.
Our goal in sharing the results is to help companies better understand how other organizations are meeting the challenges and opportunities of marketing in the digital age. Here’s what we found:
1. Budgets are growing, but where’s the money going?
According to the survey, 40% of respondents were unsure what new tactics they would add in 2018, but the same percentage said they planned to increase their digital marketing budget.
What are your digital budget plans in 2018?
Do you plan to add any new tactics in 2018?
The intention by nearly half of companies to increase or maintain their digital marketing budgets isn’t surprising. Their decisions are driven by:
- Comparatively lower cost of digital versus traditional channels, such as TV and radio
- Easier and more accurate success and ROI measurement
- More-qualified workforce to execute and manage efforts in-house
What is a bit surprising is the 40% of companies that don’t know what they want to add to their overall marketing mix. It could mean they’re so confident in their 2017 results that they keep pushing forward and take a wait-and-see approach on tactics. It could also mean that they are focusing more on implementing campaigns than on defining their strategy for how each tactic aligns with their goals.
In the case of the latter, this creates a major opportunity for companies to improve performance by outlining and justifying their goals, establishing deadlines, and instituting strict tracking guidelines.
2. Lights, camera … still working on traction?
There were times in 2017 when it felt like every marketing blog was proclaiming video marketing as the hottest trend of our times. With eye-popping stats (1 billion hours are watched on YouTube per day), easily accessible mobile formats and shrinking consumer attention spans, it’s no surprise that video marketing has been making headlines.
But is it making headway? According to survey respondents, the answer is not as much as you might expect. Only half reported that they have started incorporating video into their digital strategy.
Have you incorporated video into your digital marketing?
Nevertheless, the trends favor video, and BroadBased expects the percentage to cross the tipping point in 2018, for several reasons:
- Online video continues to get cheaper and easier to create.
- Video improves conversion rates on social posts, landing pages, and email campaigns.
- Companies will rely on it more to connect with Millennials and Generation Z consumers.
3. Websites are getting younger
An up-to-date website that provides a seamless experience across different devices, ranks well on search and is intelligent about capturing customer data is no longer a “nice-to-have.” Updating the look and feel, as well as functional elements, has become a necessity for companies that hope to lead the pack in their respective spaces. That’s why more than 50% of survey respondents reported having freshened up their site within the past year.
When is the last time your website underwent
a full or partial redesign?
A key point to consider when modernizing a website is whether to perform partial or full redesign. Content management systems (CMS) have become easy to scale and modify, resulting in more BroadBased clients updating their website rather than starting from scratch with a brand new design.
Also, access to analytics is greater than ever, and this abundance of data can be used to freshen key pages and sections to move the needle faster, and with less expense, than a full redesign.
Another factor to consider is the recent trend of companies launching microsites to market individual products or services instead of housing them alongside everything else on the main site.
Strategically, this is a great move. A lean-and-mean microsite featuring a handful of pages rich with highly focused content is a great option for a quick lead generation campaign. As a bonus, microsites are a great way to run A/B tests of messages and call-to-actions before rolling them out to the main corporate website.
Website vs. Microsite
A microsite is a smaller version of your main website that is hyper-focused on a specific product or service. They’re generally used to convert traffic from individual campaigns, such as Facebook ads, email marketing, or Google Adwords. They can be launched quickly, allow you test different messages and provide accurate tracking as they only receive traffic from the specific campaigns you point at them.
4. Budget and process are the biggest digital obstacles
In a perfect world, marketers would have unlimited funds to implement their cutting-edge, goal-crushing strategies, along with endless hours to spend on building processes to manage and track them.
In reality, however, budgets and time are tight, making it challenging to put processes in place that maximize campaign performance. These facts were reinforced by survey respondents, who cited budget constraints and weak processes as their biggest challenges.
What is your biggest digital marketing challenge?
The silver lining in these results is the opportunity that it creates for marketers to become more efficient in the use of their budgets and to implement more-effective processes to increase the value of every marketing dollar.
When designing and implementing processes, it’s helpful to think in terms of scale versus ad hoc approaches. Templates can be re-purposed across multiple projects. Use Google search to explore the wealth of (mostly free) resources available in the form
of process documents and best practices.
Finally, a word about reporting, which was the third biggest challenge cited by survey respondents. Better reporting has become an issue as new tactics and technologies are incorporated into digital strategies. Often, there is a rush to launch before necessary tracking tools are put in place, making it difficult to successfully track performance.
The results of the first BroadBased Digital Marketing Survey confirmed one fundamental finding we anticipated as we designed the tool — that change is the only constant in digital marketing. But while the results underscored the dynamic nature of digital marketing, the survey also provided many insights into trends and called into question several common assumptions.
In addition, one of the most-revealing results was the response itself, which showed us that digital marketing is top-of-mind among companies who are seeking to increase lead generation and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
We hope you were able to gain some valuable insight from our survey, and we appreciate all the respondents who took the time to complete it. As we advance through 2018 and new trends like the ones below emerge, we’re hopeful that these survey results will help you navigate a clearer path through the digital landscape, toward a successful outcome for this year and beyond.