Survey: Email top channel for increased spend in 2012

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More marketers plan to increase their spending on email marketing in 2012 than any other channel, according to a survey conducted by email service provider StrongMail, which will be officially released on Dec. 7. Of the 939 executives who participated in the survey, 60% said they expect to raise their email marketing budgets.

The survey of 939 executives found email to be the top channel for increased spend next year, with 60% saying they expect to raise their email marketing budgets. Social followed at 54% and was trailed by mobile and search, each at 37%. Kara Trivunovic, global director of strategy at StrongMail, said email likely beat out social because marketers accustomed to email's measurability continue to struggle with how to monetize social and attribute return on investment.

Despite an uncertain economic climate, 92% of marketers plan to increase or maintain the size of their marketing budgets in 2012, StrongMail found. But Trivunovic said the number of marketers looking to retain or grow their budgets isn't surprising in the context of today's economy. “In order for companies to get out of their economic troubles, they need to invest in marketing efforts to drive revenue,” she said.

Survey respondents pointed to direct mail, and tradeshows and events, as channels that will see decreased spend in 2012. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they will shrink their spending on direct mail, and 23% said they would do so on tradeshows and events. Trivunovic said the forecast trims are due to the channels' “skyrocketing” costs.

The survey queried executives on their main email initiatives for 2012. Forty-eight percent of respondents pegged increasing subscriber engagement, and 44% said increasing segmentation and targeting. Thirty-two percent of respondents said increasing email opt-ins.

“Acquisition in the email space has become a very dirty word because of the approach many advertisers take in doing it. So as we look at the need to re-engage, a lot of marketers are recognizing the fact that email's core strength is in retention, in building relationships and growing those relationships with their customers,” Trivunovic said.

Contrary to respondents' indications of a push toward engagement and relevance for their email programs, 83% said they plan to increase their spending on batch emails such as promotional messaging and newsletters.

Respondents were asked to report which marketing channels they plan to integrate with email next year. Social topped the list with 68% of those surveyed eyeing the channel for integration, followed by mobile at 45% and search at 17%.

Asked to identify their top email marketing challenge, 45% of respondents cited data integration, and 43% said a lack of resources and staff. Content management came in third at 40%.

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