March 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

Marketers plan to spend more online and aim to measure results better

Top marketers expect to shift more money to digital channels and away from such traditional marketing vehicles as print and television, according to a survey by the CMO Council. Among their goals is to improve measurement of online marketing efforts.

Forced to take a close look at their budgets by the tough economy, senior marketers plan to shift more spending to the web and aim to get better at interpreting results from that channel. And while the increased focus on interactive channels is generally good news for providers of web-related services, many marketers are looking to replace web design firms and interactive marketing agencies, according to the survey by the CMO Council.

While most marketers plan to hold steady or reduce spending in such traditional channels as print, television and radio, 43% of marketers plan to increase spending on interactive and web media by up to 5% this year, and 30% plan a bump of more than 5%, according to the international survey of 650 chief marketing officers and other senior marketers.

For instance, while 6% plan to decrease spending on web and interactive marketing this year, 39% plan spending increases of up to 5% and 33% of more than 5%. Comparable figures for search marketing are 6% decrease, 37% increase up to 5% and 25% more than 5%; social media (such as blogs and online communities) 2% decrease, 39% increase by 5% or less, 23% more than 5%; and search engine optimization, 5% decrease, 33% raise up to 5%, 24% more than 5%. Marketers generally remain more cautious on mobile marketing, with 4% planning to decrease spending, 73% hold steady, 15% increase by up to 5% and only 8% planning to raise spending by more than 5%.

As they shift to more web-based spending, marketers admit they’re not very good at measuring results from this developing channel. Only 9.7% rate themselves as excellent at measuring online performance while 15.4% give themselves poor marks. 53% say they are still growing and improving their measurement capabilities.

In other findings from the survey:

  • Asked how the economy is influencing their 2009 spending plans, 34% said they are sharpening focus and reducing spend, 12% said putting more pressure on the marketing organization to produce, and 12% shifting marketing mix to more cost-efficient channels, such as online.

  • Just under half of marketers expect to spend less this year, with 35% anticipating cuts of more than 5%. In the same survey the last two years, only about 15% anticipated budget cuts. This year, 21% expect to hold budgets steady, 13% to increase spending by 5% or less, and 16% by more than 5%.

  • Asked which agencies they planned to change this year, the top pick was web design and development providers, cited by 42%. Next came interactive marketing agencies at 29%.

  • The top strategy for improving or acquiring online and interactive marketing competencies was training and developing existing staff, cited by 63%. 36% said adding or expanding digital marketing agency support, 33% attending conferences and trade shows, and 29% recruiting new talent.

  • Asked what marketing automation solutions they intend to deploy this year, the top pick was e-mail marketing (45%), followed by social networking or online community building (34%), online surveying or research (33%), lead management (29%), web analytics and multivariable testing (28%) and search marketing (26%).

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