Cover Story: Media Usage Forecast 2014

Direct mail remains strong, but have we crossed the digital Rubicon?

More marketers are spending more money (and time) with email, social media and paid/organic search marketing than ever before, according to the responses to our “2014 Media Usage Survey.” As one B-to-C respondent sees it, there is “potential for more cost-effective growth online than in the mail.”

On the other hand, there’s a countermove of companies who see a rising tide of what one B-to-B respondent calls “too much noise in the digital world,” and they’re pushing back with more direct mail and telemarketing spending.

Which channels are they using? Which do they say have the best ROI? What factors have influenced changes in their direct marketing programs from 2013 to 2014? Read on to find out.

Who Has Money to Market?
Turns out, many marketers do. As you can see in Chart 1, just about a third of respondents are increasing budgets in 2014, and large pluralities in each segment are holding budgets steady. That’s more increasing budgets and fewer flat ones than were reported in 2013. For the most part, fewer respondents in B-to-B and “Both” reported decreasing budgets. (“Both” companies market to B-to-B and B-to-C customers.) The outlook isn’t as rosy in B-to-C, where 20 percent project decreases in 2014—that’s significantly higher than the 14 percent last year.

One interesting trend not shown in these charts is more marketers report they are increasing acquisition budgets than retention budgets.

In the survey, we ask the question in Chart 1 two more times, specifically for retention and acquisition budgets. B-to-B marketers foresee a 45 percent rise in acquisition budgets, but only 30 percent are increasing retention. It’s similar for B-to-C (42 percent vs. 34 percent) and Both (40 percent vs. 33 percent). A couple years ago, marketers were playing defense and increasing retention spending. This year, they appear to be back on the hunt to increase market share.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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  • Melissa Ward

    Almost entirely US.