Annual Trends Survey 2012
Retailers Stuck in a Social Media Wasteland?
While there’s been talk lately that social media isn’t worth the investment of time or money, retailers apparently haven’t gotten the message. In 2011, 51 percent of respondents had no social media strategy in place. This year only 11 percent of respondents said they don’t have a social media strategy. While only 3 percent of retailers cited social media as their biggest challenge, 25 percent said they’ll be searching for social media expertise in 2012.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of respondents are allocating between 20 percent to 39 percent of their marketing budget to social media in 2012 vs. 14 percent who did so in 2011. In fact, 7 percent of respondents are planning to spend nearly half their marketing budget or more in 2012 on social media, a 5 percent increase from last year.
The primary goal for 41 percent of respondents’ social media efforts is to create customer awareness, engage with fans and promote exclusive content (e.g., behind-the-scenes content, contests). Seventeen percent use social media to generate sales, and another 14 percent use it to drive web traffic.
Print Tries to Stay Relevant
Continuing an ongoing trend, retailers are shifting marketing dollars away from print vehicles (e.g., print ads, catalogs) and towards digital channels. Forty-two percent of respondents last year indicated they would spend 20 percent or more of their marketing budget on print catalogs, compared to only 37 percent who will do so this year.
Advertising in print publications also isn’t high on most retailers’ list of priorities. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they’re allocating 20 percent or more of their marketing budget to print ads, 16 percent less than in 2011.
There’s some encouraging news around print marketing going forward, however, as direct mail spending will increase in 2012. Forty-two percent of respondents said they’ll spend 20 percent or more of their marketing budget on direct mail in 2012 vs. 35 percent of respondents who budgeted the same for direct mail in 2011.
Another interesting finding is the growing importance of direct sales forces, likely for B-to-B companies. Forty percent of respondents will spend 20 percent or more of their budget on a direct sales force this year, up from 35 percent in 2011.
Customer Acquisition/Retention Remains Tricky
Survey respondents last year cited customer acquisition and retention as the biggest challenges they faced. This sentiment hasn’t changed much over time, as customer acquisition (39 percent) and retention (11 percent) continue to be the main challenges respondents are facing.
This could be due, in part, to the fact that 8 percent of respondents cite challenges in keeping up with new technology, which greatly contributes to the success of customer loyalty and acquisition programs.
Meanwhile, 7 percent of respondents said they have trouble managing multiple marketing channels to deliver a seamless experience across all channels — email, mobile, social media, e-commerce websites, etc. Other challenges include keeping up with a gluttony of legal issues, such as the ongoing “Amazon tax” battle and postal rate increases, which was cited by 4 percent.
Our respondents aren’t challenged by data, analytics, SEO or SEM, however. Only 1 percent cited difficulties in each of these areas. In fact, more respondents cited challenges in social media (3 percent) and mobile (2 percent).