Monday, June 15, 2009

New Survey Shows Social Media is Emerging as a Direct Marketing Channel

StrongMail Systems, Inc., a provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, announced new survey data that points to the emergence of social media as a direct marketing channel and significant planned investment in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009.

According to the survey, there is still a wide-spread land-grab for ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing, with 29 percent of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. However, social media appears to be emerging as a direct channel with 36 percent of survey respondents stating that the direct marketing department owns social media. Surprisingly, only 9 percent of the respondents report that social media is owned by public relations departments, suggesting that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5 percent have a dedicated social media department.

The survey also revealed that social media is a hot initiative with email marketers, with 66 percent planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48 percent who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative. Funding is also exceptionally strong for both channels. Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83 percent will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62 percent.

The increased focus and investment in social media underscores the importance of applying resources properly; however, there is still widespread confusion regarding how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented. 55 percent of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48 percent, establishing business goals for the program is a close second.

Based on these findings, it's clear that social media has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing. StrongMail believes that the intrinsic interconnection between social media and email make it an ideal direct channel. Email continues to drive engagement in social networks by alerting members of new content and updates, and the ability to communicate relevant messages within social networks is critical to a business’ success in the medium.

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