Digital is a critical source for brand building and direct marketing. But how is digital being used to acquire customers? Gigaom Research addressed this question by surveying 300 U.S. digital marketers to understand how they are using digital-marketing tactics across the marketing funnel, spanning awareness, customer acquisition, conversion, and retention. Our survey affirms that digital marketing is being used consistently across the entire customer experience.
Moreover, marketers are drawing comfortably on a broad palette of digital tactics depending on their objectives. Marketers told us that social media, already well-known as an awareness-building tool, is also particularly useful for customer retention. On the other hand, content marketing is especially useful for awareness and retention. And email is consistently used across the entire marketing funnel.
Our survey analysis revealed other key findings, including:
- Nearly 60 percent of companies plan to increase their digital-marketing spend in 2014.
- Email marketing is the digital workhorse, deemed the most effective (relative to other digital tactics) for building awareness, acquisition, retention, and conversion. In fact, 56 percent of respondents identified email as being the most effective at retention, several points ahead of the second-most-effective tactic.
- Social spending is set to increase, but we discern some buying on faith with social. More marketers plan to spend more on social media marketing than any other digital tactic. But when we asked marketers to describe their perceptions of social media marketing, more marketers agreed with the statement “It is difficult to prove ROI for social media marketing” than with any other statement.
- Referral marketing is a digital-marketing dark horse. Only 39 percent of marketers use it regularly, but 43 percent of those who do use it acquire more than 35 percent of their new customers with it. This is double the percentage of marketers who report such acquisition rates using email. Brands that invest in referral can gain a competitive advantage over those investing elsewhere.
Acquiring customers in the digital era is like creating a mosaic: To achieve a beautiful outcome, companies need to find the right blend of tactics. Brands should consider using referral marketing to complement lists created for email campaigns. Marketers must experiment with blending forms of paid, earned, and owned media to acquire customers.
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