We all work hard to identify marketing channels that would benefit our overall marketing strategy, but we don’t always find the right ones. Why would that be? Are they hard to find? Or expensive?

There are a few reasons to that:

  1. Marketing activities that generate the best return on investment (ROI) are not necessarily the coolest.
  2. Some old fashion marketers fear change especially when it requires some technical knowledge, or probably don’t have much faith in the latest digital innovations.
  3. Decision makers haven’t had a good experience with digital marketing/marketers and feel it’s a waste of money.

Whatever the reason is, I believe there are many opportunities for every body within digital marketing.

In which digital channel would you invest?

Brand Republic have conducted a research to identify the digital marketing budget allocation in 2013. The biggest increase according to the research will be in social media followed by online video marketing during 2013. Mobile marketing comes third, followed by search, email, online advertising and finally, Webinars.

Digital marketing predictions - 2013

Source: Brand Republic – Digital on Trial: Harness 2012’s Key Trends to Seize Opportunities in 2013

Unlike many believe, although social media is not news any more, it just started making its way on digital marketing strategies and media schedules. The question is, does it generate a decent ROI? Is it worth investing in? I’ll be touching on this topic a little bit later in this article.

Similarly, online video has been around for a while now. Only recently advertisers and marketers started enabling it with more interactive features such as social plugins and smart video adverts.

Mobile has occupied the third place in the predictions and I’m not surprised. Its only the start for this channel, for example, instant messaging apps are on the rise, and it’s a form of social media where users can chat one to one or group chats. There are already 3-billion active instant messaging accounts worldwide and its only going to increase. According to the research, experts predict, much, much more of the traffic to come from mobile devices. This is evident from the rapid increase in the numbers of Internet enabled mobile devices that reached2-billion in 2010.  The number of Internet enabled devices is estimated to be 2.7-billion by 2015 (40% of the world’s population). Just like desktop computers, its not the device it self that matters, its what you can do with it.

Where is the ROI coming from? 

As mentioned earlier, what works is not always the coolest. Decision makers  in marketing like to spend their money on cool digital marketing channels such as social media, online video and mobile. But do they actually work? Do they generate the expected return on investment?

The research shows that social media yields very low amounts of ROI. Mobile and online video generates even lower ROI. But why the largest chunks of their digital marketing budgets are invested on these channels? I believe because it’s the trend, in addition to the lack of knowledge in the benefits of other marketing channels.

Email (or email marketing) ranked fifth in the spend predictions, however, generates the highest level of ROI. Unlike Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg predicted that “email is dead”, email is still the leader digital marketing channel in terms of ROI generation.

Search marketing (including search engine optimisation and search pay per click) came as the second highest ROI generating digital channel. From experience I know it’s really hard to convince businesses that search is crucial, despite it being one of the most cost efficient channels when it comes to lead generation and conversions.

Digital Marketing - ROI Graph

Source: Brand Republic. ROI Generation by digital marketing channels

Digital marketing strategies

It is clear from the above that digital marketing activities in some cases are not thought-of thoroughly. Whilst it is important to be ahead of the game and invest in new innovations like online video and Mobile, other channels are not given the weight they deserve. Having a digital marketing strategy should at least trigger deeper research into which channel each business should invest in. I am surprised to know that a large 14% of the respondents to the survey do not even have a digital marketing strategy in place and 10% focus on increasing their database. Whilst increasing your database is important and could be considered a strategy, knowing what to do with the database is what makes the difference.

My advice to businesses of all sizes and forms; test as many marketing channels as possible and monitor your activities closely. This should show which digital marketing channels are working best for each business. It should also make the task of creating digital marketing strategies much easier and clearer for 2013 and the years ahead.