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With the beginning of a new year one is supposed to be inspired to look ahead and set lofty goals for the future.

However it is also a time to look back on the past 12 months to reflect and see if there are any lessons to be learned from past experiences.

Therefore there’s no better time to re-read some of the excellent surveys and reports that Econsultancy’s award-winning research team produced in 2013.

The publications cover a broad range of topics including mobile, user experience, marketing budgets, personalisation, email, SEO, cross-channel marketing, conversion rate optimisation and content management.

So put the kettle on, sit back, and improve your mind with these intriguing digital marketing and ecommerce statistics...

Businesses use mobile for brand engagement rather than profit 

  • Data included in the Econsultancy/Kontagent Mobile Strategy and Sophistication Report shows that businesses are not yet focused on the impact that mobile can have on profits. Instead the top goals for mobile strategies are brand engagement/loyalty and needing to stay competitive.
  • Furthermore, only 28% of businesses are tracking performance indicators specific to their mobile programs.
  • The report also found that companies expect the importance of apps to their business to grow over the next one to two years. 23% cite apps as their most important mobile platform, compared to 31% identifying their mobile sites (46% evaluate the two as equally important).

Which of your mobile initiatives is most important to your business [today vs. 12-24 months]?

Startups are hungry for data

  • Data included in the Econsultancy and Geckoboard Data Driven Culture Survey Report shows that the vast majority of startups identify themselves as data driven businesses; only 5% of respondents stated that data is not a priority within their organisation.
  • There is a marked lack of confidence around data and metrics. Almost half of the respondents (49%) do not feel confident about the metrics they are currently monitoring.
  • 44% of startups spend substantially more on data gathering than on data communication, with 34% of respondents spending equally on both. This highlights the importance of developing mechanisms to guarantee that data is collected with a purpose and that key insights can be derived from it.
  • The report is based on a survey of over 360 business professionals globally, carried out in February 2013. It is aimed at professionals working in the startup community.

55% of businesses plan to increase digital marketing budgets in 2013

  • More than a third of companies (39%) plan to increase their digital marketing budgets this year at the expense of other channels, according to the new Econsultancy and SoDA Digital Marketing Outlook Report 2013.
  • A further 16% of respondents said that they would be increasing digital budgets alongside overall marketing spend, while just 11% said they planned to decrease the amount allocated to digital marketing.

  • The SoDA Report 2013 includes a survey of 814 marketers, of which more than 84% were key decision makers and influencers, including CMOs, VPs, and directors.
  • Agency-side respondents were almost evenly split between digital agencies (44%) and traditional shops with digital capabilities (45%). While the two sets of respondents agreed in many areas, their answers did diverge in a few key topics.
  • For example, full-service agencies were decidedly less optimistic about the future of independent agencies than their digital-only counterparts.
  • When asked for their opinion on the negative statement, “Independent agencies do not have a bright future,” only 6% of digital agency respondents agreed compared to a quarter (26%) of full-service agencies.

74% of businesses believe user experience is key for improving sales

  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses believe that the user experience is important for improving sales and conversions, according to data in the Econsultancy and WhatUsersDo User Experience Survey Report.
  • Increased customer satisfaction (72%) and customer loyalty (44%) were also popular responses, however few business appear convinced of the cost-saving benefits of improving the user experience.
  • The survey also asked what both client-side and agency-side respondents listed as the primary benefits of UX. For companies, the two most commonly listed benefits were to improve and evidence decision-making (68%) and to remove guesswork out of the design process (66%).

What do you believe are the primary benefits of user experience testing?

  • The User Experience Survey Report, conducted by Econsultancy in association with WhatUsersDo, is based on a survey of more than 1,400 digital and ecommerce professionals.

71% of businesses plan to increase digital marketing budgets this year

  • Almost three out of four businesses (71%) plan to increase their digital marketing budgets this year, according to stats included in the Econsultancy/Responsys Marketing Budgets 2013 Report.
  • In comparison only 20% of respondents said they plan to increase their traditional (offline) budgets, up slightly from 16% last year.
  • The average expected increase (for those increasing digital budgets) is 28%, slightly higher than the average expected increase of 26% for offline budgets.
  • More than two-thirds of client-side respondents (70%) said their companies would be increasing the amount spent on content marketing.
  • The report is based on a survey of more than 800 client-side marketers and agency respondents.

25% of Australian marketers say digital knowledge is poor

  • Findings from Econsultancy/Marketing Magazine State of Digital Marketing in Australia report has revealed that the digital skills and knowledge gap is still very present in Australia, with a quarter of respondents saying knowledge of digital within their organisations is “poor” to “very poor”.
  • Only 8% of client-side marketers rated themselves as having an “excellent” understanding of digital, which was a decrease of around a third from 2012.
  • 30% said their understanding was “good”, 36% said it was “okay” and 21% felt it was “poor”.
  • In contrast, only 3% of supply-side respondents felt that their clients’ digital skills were “excellent”, showing a somewhat more negative outlook on the current skill set of marketers.

Client-side: How would you describe the level of digital knowledge within your organisation?

  • When supply-side marketers were asked what the biggest barriers to clients investing more money in digital marketing were, a lack of understanding/education about digital marketing came out as the number one barrier at 54%, closely followed by company culture at 53%.

61% of businesses believe new products and services are key to growth

  • Data included in the Econsultancy/JEGI Media Growth Report 2013 shows that a majority of businesses (61%) believe that launching new products and service will be the top growth driver in the next two years.
  • This is followed by expansion of market share within existing markets and making an acquisition.

Top growth drivers in next 12 to 24 months

  • Looking at the barriers to growth, 42% of respondents cited new competitors, 35% are concerned about competition from free/low cost alternatives to their products, and 34% said the main barrier was innovation from traditional competitors.
  • The 2013 Media Growth Report is based on a two-phased approach, beginning with a survey of 231 top business executives in the third quarter of 2012, followed by a round of in-depth qualitative interviews.

Companies experiencing problems in managing customer engagement

  • Data included in the Econsultancy/Responsys State of Customer Engagement Report shows that marketers are still struggling with complete customer centricity.
  • Only 3% of senior marketers say that their cross-channel marketing activity is customer-centric to a point where it is individualised and set against right-time, right-place priorities.
  • However, the majority of respondents (87%) cite that their companies currently engage in co-ordinated, cross-channel activity and inside this, although campaign-heavy, the level of specific targeting (38%) is strong.

What level of sophistication do you feel your cross-channel communications are currently at?

  • The report also shows that data is becoming an increasing focus for marketers, with multiple sources of information being analysed to understand and optimise marketing communications.
  • 80% of senior marketers say that they currently utilise web analytics to source their data, but only 13% say that they use this effectively.
  • The difficulty of managing data is cited to be a major barrier in understanding customer engagement for nearly two-thirds of marketers (63%).

Content management systems are failing to deliver on brand expectations

  • Just 38% of businesses believe that their content management system (CMS) helps to deliver a brand-enhancing digital presence, according to the latest Econsultancy/Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing.
  • The report also shows that nearly all (87%) respondents stated that a CMS should help them to improve user and customer engagement, while 78% said it should help to build the brand though positive experiences.
  • The report, entitled ‘From Content Management to Customer Experience Management’, is based on a web content management survey of more than 1,000 business professionals spanning marketing, web development and other business departments, carried out in March 2013.

Which of the following business goals does (or should) content management help you/your clients to meet?

  • The report also shows that companies are struggling to adapt to a multiscreen world, with 70% of respondents agreeing that ‘delivering optimal experiences across all screens and devices is a major challenge’. Very few respondents (14%) disagree with this notion.

94% of businesses say personalisation is critical to their success

  • The Econsultancy/Monetate Realities of Online Personalisation Report highlights the growing importance of delivering a personalised experience online, as 94% of businesses stated that the tool ‘is critical to current and future success’.
  • Furthermore, the research found that for two-thirds (66%) of client-side respondents, both improved business performance and customer experience are the main drivers for personalising the website experience.
  • The report is based on a survey of more than 1,100 digital and ecommerce professionals working for brands and agencies, carried out in February 2013.

What is the main driver for personalising the website experience?

  • But although nearly all businesses are aware of the potential rewards from personalisation, the reality is that most respondents have yet to implement it on their own digital platforms.
  • More than half (56%) of companies stated that they are not personalising the web experience for visitors, while only 4% say that customer experiences are ‘very’ personalised.

Companies struggling with mobile optimisation

  • The Econsultancy/IBM Tealeaf Reducing Customer Struggle Report shows that although almost three quarters of companies are planning to ramp up their spending on mobile channels this year, the complexities of providing an excellent customer experience on mobile is a challenge.
  • Two out of five companies surveyed said that delivering customer experiences on mobile is harder than on the web.
  • Three-quarters of organisations surveyed say that mobile is ‘important’ (42%) or ‘critical’ (32%) to their business objectives. Just 6% of respondents don’t consider mobile important.
  • Compared to European respondents, a higher proportion of those based in North America consider mobile as ‘critical’ to their business objectives (39% compared to just over a quarter (27%) of European companies).
  • The proportion of companies describing their understanding of the mobile user experience as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ has almost doubled in the last 12 months, from just under a fifth (18%) in 2012 to 30% this year.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of responding organisations say their customers rate their brand’s mobile user experience as ‘good’ (23%) or ‘excellent’ (4%), up from a fifth in 2012.

66% of marketers say email delivers 'excellent' or 'good' ROI

  • Two-thirds of marketers (66%) state that email delivers an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ ROI, with 8% of businesses achieving more than half of their sales through this channel.
  • The findings come from the Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census 2013, which s based on the findings of a survey of more than 1,300 digital marketers.

Which of the following have you experienced to be barriers to effective email marketing?

  • The report also shows that only 39% of in-house marketers rate the performance of their company’s campaigns as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, while 15% admit their campaigns are ‘poor’.
  • More than a quarter (27%) state that they spend no time at all internally on optimising their email campaigns, a figure that has increased from 21% in 2008.
  • And even those that do optimise aren’t spending a significant amount of time on it. Just 19% of responding companies spend more than two hours a week on optimisation, compared to 62% who dedicate the same amount of time to design and content.

Google analytics reigns supreme

  • The new Econsultancy/Lynchpin Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2013 shows that more than half of businesses (56%) rely exclusively on Google Analytics (GA) for their web analytics while just 11% don’t use the tool at all.
  • This is a massive increase since 2009 when just 23% of respondents said they used GA exclusively.
  • The latest version of the report is based on a survey of almost 900 digital marketing professionals between April and May 2013, to examine their practices and strategies related to web analytics and data.
  • Among those companies that exclusively use GA, the platform is most commonly used to track traffic and conversion KPIs (86%), followed by campaign tracking (75%).
  • The multichannel funnels tool that Google launched back in 2011 to much fanfare has failed to catch on yet, with just 23% using this feature.
  • The report also shows that big data has had little impact on the role of web analysts, with 8% of marketers agreeing that “big data is a pointless marketing term.”

Agencies offer a full range of services

  • According to the UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report, published in association with NetBooster, agencies are moving towards a fuller service offering to cater for the increased demand for a holistic approach to marketing and data.
  • More than half (52%) of agencies said they offered ‘a full range of digital marketing services’, an increase from 45% in 2012 and 42% in 2011.
  • This compares to just 12% of agencies specialising only in SEO and 7% focused exclusively on paid search. A further 10% of agencies carry out both SEO and paid search.
  • Looking at the demand side (i.e. in-company responses), 91% of responding companies carry out SEO, 81% carry out analytics (81%), 78% practise paid search marketing and the same proportion (78%) do social media marketing.
  • The survey, carried out in the spring of 2013, is based on a survey of more than 750 companies and agencies, making this the most authoritative report on the UK SEM marketplace.

What area is your main focus as an agency?

Australians struggle with cross-channel marketing

  • The Australia Cross-Channel Marketing Survey Report, published by Econsultancy in partnership with Experian Marketing Services, found that only a quarter of businesses (26%) rated the online cross-channel customer experience delivered by their own or their clients’ organisations as ‘excellent’ (2%) or ‘good’ (24%).
  • Nearly half of responding businesses (48%) said they take a short-term, campaign-centric approach without a view to longer term strategy.
  • On average, only 51% of Australian marketing campaigns are run across channels with integrated messaging, creative and offer.
  • The report report is based on a survey of nearly 200 Australian businesses to an online survey carried out during May and June 2013.

Companies understand the importance of the user experience

  • User experience (UX) is not a new concept within digital marketing, but it is becoming a growing priority for business according to the Australia User Experience Report, published by Econsultancy in association with Macquarie Telecom.
  • The survey shows that three-quarters (74%) of respondents say their companies are committed to delivering the best possible online user experience, including 17% who say they are seriously committed.
  • More than half of survey respondents (52%) said that developing the user experience was ‘very important’ to their company, and only 1% said it was not important at all.
  • In addition, 96% of respondents agree that user experience must lead all marketing and ecommerce efforts, including 54% who strongly agree.

How committed is your organisation / are your clients to delivering the best possible online user experience?

Companies realise they need to focus more on building relationships

  • The second annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report, published by Econsultancy in association with Responsys, shows that companies recognise the importance of building value for and from their customers as part of an on-going relationship.
  • Almost three-quarters of responding companies (70%) agree with the statement that “it is cheaper to retain than acquire a customer”, and just under half (49%) agree that “pound for pound, we achieve better ROI by investing in relationship over acquisition marketing”.
  • However, just 30% of companies say they are “very committed” to relationship marketing, with 22% conducting no relationship marketing at all.
  • The research is based on a 2013 survey of nearly 900 companies and agencies.

Digital captures a significant share of Asian marketing dollars

  • Two in five (42%) companies surveyed in the State of Digital in Asia Report plan to increase their overall marketing investment over the next 12 months (down from 49% in 2012), while two-thirds (66%) report increases for their digital budgets this year.
  • For comparison, just under a fifth (19%) of responding companies plan to increase their traditional (offline) budgets.
  • Compared to last year, the proportion of client-side marketers saying their organisations will increase their digital budgets by more than 50% has tripled (from 4% in 2012 to 13% this year).
  • The report, published in association with Campaign Asia-Pacific, is based on a survey of almost 400 company and agency marketers carried out in June and July 2013.

Facebook remains king of social ads

  • There are a huge number of social networks vying for marketers' attention, yet Facebook remains the most attractive according to the Econsultancy/Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing.
  • Facebook newsfeed ads proved to be the most popular channel among business respondents (66%), followed by Facebook marketplace ads (45%) and Promoted Tweets (40%).
  • The agency perspective is even more favourable, with the majority (84%) of respondents saying that newsfeed ads are most popular among their clients.
  • The report, entitled Optimising Paid Media, is based on a survey of more than 600 Econsultancy and Adobe subscribers.

Strong investment from advertisers in online display advertising

  • The third Online Advertisers Survey Report, published in association with Rubicon Project, found that spending across online advertising channels has increased in the last year, which builds on the growth highlighted by our last online advertising survey carried out in 2011.
  • In the case of display advertising, the proportion of advertisers citing an increase in spend has risen from 57% in 2009 to 64% in 2013.
  • The growing investment in display has led to an increase in pricing, with almost half (48%) of the advertisers surveyed having witnessed an increase in prices in the last year. A further 41% of buy-side survey respondents say that prices have remained the same.
  • Online display appears to be particularly buoyant in France, where 88% of advertisers cited an increase in spend over the last year. Advertisers in Germany are least likely to have increased their spend in the last year, with 33% having decreased investment in display.
  • The report is based on a survey of more than 650 advertisers and agencies. The findings are presented globally, with key charts broken down for the UK, US, France, Germany and Asia Pacific.

Just 20% of companies have a well developed customer experience strategy

  • The majority of companies (58%) are still in a position where they are just beginning to develop their strategies for improving the customer experience, according to the Econsultancy/CACI Integrated Customer Experience Report 2013.
  • The percentage is not dissimilar to 2011 when Econsultancy carried out a similar survey.
  • Nine in every 10 companies state that there is at least some level of organisational commitment to delivering an integrated customer experience, including 43% who say they are ‘very committed’.
  • However, only a fifth (20%) say they have a well-developed strategy in this respect and only 8% of companies surveyed said they provide a ‘very integrated’ customer experience.

How developed is your customer experience strategy?

 

  • Similarly, the research shows that many organisations are struggling in key areas needed for an integrated customer experience.
  • While data (63%) and systems & processes (54%) were widely identified as critical areas for success in the context of an integrated customer experience, only a minority of organisations went on to rate themselves as excellent or good in those areas (32% and 24% respectively).

Criticality versus competence 

  • This report is based on a survey of almost 900 digital marketing professionals during June and July 2013. It examines how their organisations or clients approach this topic, and what they regard as key factors for success.

Apps, email and search are among top mobile priorities for businesses

  • When asked which mobile channels they plan on using during the next 12 months just over half (55%) of marketers said apps, followed by mobile advertising (51%), optimised emails (50%) and tablet-specific sites (50%).
  • Mobile search and commerce were also cited by precisely half (50%) of client-side respondents.
  • The findings come from the Econsultancy/BuyDesire Mobile Marketing and Commerce Report, which is based on a survey of more than 500 companies and agencies, carried out in July and August 2013.

What mobile channels and technologies do you plan on using during the next 12 months?

  • The report also asked respondents for their opinion on statements that refer to their overall mobile strategy and intentions for the next 12 months.
  • The results show that there is appetite among client-side businesses to get more involved with mobile, as two-thirds (67%) say mobile will become a fundamental part of their marketing and commerce strategy during the next 12 months.
  • However, it is just as clear that organisations are still in the early stages of utilising mobile as just 39% have a mobile strategy in place.

Satisfaction with conversion rates has increased for the first time in four years

  • More than a quarter (28%) of companies are satisfied with their conversion rates (either 'very' or 'quite' satisfied), up by 6% since 2012 and the highest level since 2009. 
  • Additionally, around three-quarters (73%, up from 65% in 2012) indicate they have seen an improvement in conversion rates in the last 12 months.

How valuable do you find the following methods for improving conversion rates?

  • Additionally, over two-third (70%) of companies carrying out A/B tests saw an increase in conversion.
  • Despite the obvious benefits of regular testing, the proportion of organisations carrying out more than 10 tests per month has dropped from 11% in 2012 to 5% in 2013.
  • The fifth annual Conversion Rate Optimisation Report, produced in association with RedEye, also found that the proportion of organisations who say they experienced an increase in sales conversion rates has significantly gone up, from 60% in 2012 to 70% this year.
  • The research is based on a survey of almost 1,000 client-side and agency digital marketers.
David Moth

Published 8 January, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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