Social Media Continues to Top Email in Perceived Effectiveness for Marketers

January 16, 2019

Social media marketing seems to have found the marketing sweet spot between effectiveness and ease of use. A new Ascend2 survey [download page] of more than 200 B2B and B2C marketers has found that social media is perceived to be the most effective tactic used in a marketing strategy, while also being relatively easy to use.

More than half (53%) of survey respondents named social media marketing as the most effective strategy in this latest survey. This is in line with an earlier survey by Ascend2, where respondents perceived social media most effective more than any other marketing strategy.

Not only is social media marketing proving to be effective for marketers, it’s also considered easy to use by a majority of those surveyed. Just one-quarter of marketers considered social media campaigns difficult to deploy.

Is Email Marketing Losing Its Edge?

Despite its age, email has long been considered a reliable and effective workhorse for digital marketing. In 2014, a similar study by Ascend2 showed it came top of the list for both effectiveness and ease of use (i.e. least difficult), ahead of social and SEO. Last year, it also ranked as the best content distribution channel, albeit by mostly B2B marketers.

But this recent study indicates the channel may be losing top billing. Respondents to this study do not consider it as effective as other strategies such as social, content marketing or SEO. In fact, only a little more than a one-third (39%) of the respondents named stand-alone email marketing as the most effective strategy. That being said, email marketing is expected to continue growing and doesn’t appear to be anywhere near disappearing from tactics used among marketers.

One area in which it does retain its crown is in ease of use. Of all the strategies named, email marketing is considered the least difficult to use, with only 21% reporting it as being difficult to use. This is likely the reason why email marketing is the most used marketing tactic used by small business owners in the US, where marketing functions are often performed by owners who consider themselves self-taught.

The Least Effective Tactics Are Also The Most Difficult

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been named one of the next big trends in marketing. That being said, it is also considered one of the most difficult tactics to use by about half (49%) of survey respondents, with only a quarter (25%) identifying AI as effective.

Along the same lines, programmatic advertising is taking a larger slice of global digital marketing spend, but has been named the least effective of the strategies named in the survey, with only 18% finding it effective. It is also ranked as second most difficult.

It’s possible that these findings are related, with marketers either unwilling to dive into these approaches wholeheartedly and maximize them, or simply rating them as ineffective due to the difficulty of doing so.

The good news is that it seems that with proficiency comes increased effectiveness. On a whole, almost all (94%) marketing influencers the effectiveness of all forms of digital marketing strategies is improving.

Main Objectives Remain Lead Gen and Branding

With B2B marketers commonly more interested in lead generation and B2C marketers with brand awareness (as evidenced by their strategic considerations with respect to events), the B2B and B2C mix in the survey sample makes it not too surprising that these two goals duel it out for the standing as the primary marketing objective.

Indeed, the top goals for a marketing strategy as cited by survey respondents are:

  • Increased leads/sales prospects: 64%;
  • Improving brand awareness: 61%; and
  • Increasing customer acquisition: 61%.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Ascend2’s Marketing Resource Effectiveness Survey is compiled from responses from 227 marketing influencers. Respondents equally represented all company sizes. Company type is represented as such: B2C (44%), B2B (39%) and B2B/B2C equally (17%).

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