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Cover Story : Media Usage Forecast 2012

Marketers are back on the trail of new customers with new technologies

March 2012 By Thorin McGee
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Marketers are climbing out of the foxholes and charging back to the fight for new customers in 2012. At least, that's what we see in the results of Target Marketing's 2012 Annual Media Usage Survey. Overall marketing budgets in 2012 aren't too different from what they were in 2011, but their investments are more aggressive and customer acquisition-oriented.

The Budget Picture
"The main influence was an increase in budget to explore new marketing outlets," one B-to-C marketer explains in the answer to the survey's open response question: "What factors have influenced changes in your direct marketing media allocations from 2011 to 2012?"

Overall, 49 percent of marketers report no change in their 2012 budgets compared to 2011, 29 percent report increases, and 16 percent have seen their budgets fall. Those are all very similar to what we heard from the 2011 survey, and no news is good news in a lot of ways. Marketers started to get rolling again last year, and continuing that is a positive sign. Moreover it means for two years running, nearly twice as many companies have expanded budgets than have shrunk them.

When you look at where those budgets are allocated, marketers are making a big push to acquire new customers in 2012. "We are in a 'Strategic Growth Initiative,'" says one B-to-B marketer, "and the money has been budgeted to be more aggressive in our marketing efforts."

Acquisition Rules
More marketers are planning to use every method of customer acquisition in 2012.

That was the most striking result from the survey. As you can see in Chart 4, we asked whether or not respondents had used 16 different media channels for customer acquisition in 2011, and whether or not they plan to use those channels in 2012. For every channel, more respondents plan to use it in 2012 than used it in 2011.

That "change in business model to increase focus on bringing in new customers as opposed to client retention," as one B-to-B and B-to-C marketer describes it, shows up in budget allocations, as well. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents reported a decrease in their customer acquisition budgets, and a full 38 percent are rising. Last year, this report said budgets had stabilized and companies were playing defense, focusing on retention. This year, marketers are more focused on investing to expand their customer bases.

 
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