Cover Story: Media Usage Forecast 2013
6 things you need to know about this year's direct marketing budgets and the channels where they're going
More budgets are increasing than decreasing, so the total outlay still appears to be creeping up; just more slowly than in 2012.
That's the big picture of how marketing budgets are shifting in 2013, but our survey reveals much more about how marketers are allocating their dollars. Here are six things you need to know about what they say.
1. The 4 Top Marketing Channels
Sometimes, the increase and decrease columns in Chart 2 get all the attention. But it's the last column, "do not use," that reveals the silhouette of this industry: The smaller that number is, the more prominent the media in the big direct marketing picture.
By that measure, email, search, social media and direct mail are the top media for direct marketing in 2013.
Only 5.6 percent of marketers reported that they do not plan to use email in 2013, which means a full 94 percent do, and 63 percent of those plan to increase its budget.
By the same calculation, search engine optimization (SEO) is used by nearly 90 percent of respondents, and 84 percent pay for PPC search engine marketing. About half of respondents are increasing search budgets, as well.
Eighty nine percent are using social media for engagement—what you might call "natural social": creating a fan page, interacting with followers, etc. Unlike search, less than half of respondents are investing in paid social network ads.
And finally, 80 percent plan to invest in direct mail, about 1.5 percent fewer than in 2012. Fewer respondents report increasing direct mail budgets—28 percent compared with 31 percent in 2012—but there are also fewer decreasing budgets.
2. What's Leveling Off?
Over the 2011 and 2012 surveys, we saw marketing budgets stabilize, turn upward and start spending more on acquisition. There was also a significant shift toward some of the key digital channels—in both years, email and social media were the only channels with more than 60 percent of respondents increasing spending.