Online marketers look like they are fumbling in the dark

Online marketers could be fumbling in the darkMarketing staff in many businesses appear to have “seen the light” and realised that social media is essential in the future of online business. Indeed, according to a study by IBM 82% of Chief Marketing Officers plan to increase their investment in social media in the next few years. Indeed, this was the “number one” area for investment, the research revealed. Email marketing – which consistently has a higher ROI in several studies – is the bottom of the list. Social media, meanwhile, is very difficult to measure, yet it is the “top of the pops” for marketing executives.

Perhaps deeper down in the IBM research we discover why there is this seeming discrepancy. According to the study, social media is the main area in which marketing executives report being under-prepared. Indeed, 68% of Chief Marketing Officers say they are under-prepared to cope with social media.

So, let’s get this straight – the number one area for which companies are going to invest in for marketing is also one of the most significant areas where they feel lack of knowledge. They already know that email marketing beats web marketing hands down, but they are not going to invest in this as much. What’s going on? Marketers are planning to invest in an area they know least about but not invest in something the know a lot about.

Call it what you like – mob rule, keeping up with the Jones’s, staying in-line – what we are witnessing here is social acceptance theory. Chief Marketing Officers are committing themselves to social media because they know their bosses would expect them to and because other marketing executives are doing the same. Sheep?

Maybe not. If we did another study we may find that part of that investment in social media is in training, learning and support. Perhaps that is why they are not investing so much in email marketing because they already know a lot about it. Whatever the details, there are a couple of things many businesses can learn from this IBM study:

  1. Social media is going to become the focus of much business in the coming years. If you don’t do it for your business, you will be outside that world of social acceptance – customers will not like you as much.
  2. Social media requires training, advice, support and education. Get it now and you will do well in the coming years. Avoid it and you could well be fumbling in the dark.
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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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Graham Jones

2 thoughts on “Online marketers look like they are fumbling in the dark

  1. What I find so fascinating about the world of social media – and your blog is a prime example – is how much really useful information and advice can be gleaned for free. You rightly mention the need for training, education etc. and any big corporate may want to invest staff time and company resources in a professional programme, but they could be a bit daring and suggest that for any staff who are not well acquainted with the world of social media (because so many already will be, through Facebook and LinkedIn etc), they dabble online and see what they can find and perhaps discuss with more experienced colleagues how to determine what is useful and what is not. All marketers are also consumers, all professionals are also humans, with friends.

    Admittedly, it can take a while to become adept at determining what advice online is both free and valuable and what is simply free! Your blog and your many downloadable epamphlets etc are clearly of a better quality than many – clear, well written and well thought out. There are others that also provide great advice free online, and I would err on the side of saying that if the free advice feels like advice you would be happy to pay for, then it is good advice. If it is advice you are only interested in because it is free, it is probably less so!

    Social media is creating exciting opportunities for consumers and for businesses – and perhaps those that see themselves as both at the same time will make the most of these opportunities.

    • Nick, thanks for your comment and your kind words about my blog. Glad you find it useful. I agree with your suggestion that there will be plenty of people within a company who already know about social media and who could help their colleagues. Often, businesses do not realise the talent and expertise they have within their own buildings..!

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