Technology drives change

Of the numerous factors working to change the marketing sector, online activity is considered one of the most important, according to results from the latest CIM Marketing Trends Survey

Times are moving fast and the latest Marketing Trends Survey from The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) focuses on the drivers of change within the profession. The survey asked marketers how they are keeping up to speed with shifting demands on their knowledge and skills. The study shows that marketers are convinced life in marketing is fast-paced. A substantial 90% say marketing is a dynamic and constantly evolving profession, while a similarly overwhelming majority (86%) say marketing has unquestionably changed over the past three decades.

Technology is regarded as the main reason for this transformation – 97% cite it as one of the main three catalysts for change – while changing consumer attitudes is listed by nearly two-thirds (63%) as the key driver; 45% cite global competition and 36% name the development of customer relationship management (CRM).

About a quarter (26%) say marketing will be much the same as it is today in five years. However, while under a third (30%) of those questioned say marketing will be regarded as a set of tools for doing a job rather than a business philosophy, two-thirds (67%) say the profession will be widely acknowledged as a key strategic driver of value within organisations.

The average percentage of turnover spent on marketing has fallen slightly, from 7.2% in autumn 2005 to 6.6%. Once again it’s the smallest businesses that are spending most on marketing, and while those with a turnover of under £1m are earmarking around 8.2% of turnover for marketing, this figure falls to 4.8% among companies with a turnover of more than £100m.

The lion’s share of UK marketing budget is still spent on advertising. It will account for just under 15% of marketing spend on average, making it the heftiest line on the budget, above lead generation (12.3%), CRM (11.9%) and direct mail, (11.3%). A greater emphasis on online advertising is a trend seen in previous reports and one that continues in the latest study. Whereas in spring 2005, marketers were planning to increase their advertising budget by 2.6%, today ad budgets are likely to be cut by an average of 0.2%.

Conversely, spending on online marketing continues to grow rapidly. Marketers now spend just over 11% of their budget on this medium – a figure that is predicted to increase 3.6% on average next year. The next largest expected increases were on CRM (up by 2%), followed by e-mail marketing and lead generation, where spending is likely to increase by 1.6%.

Marketers feel more pessimistic about the future of the economy than they did six months ago. Since the last CIM Marketing Trends Survey, the number of people who believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months has declined from 26% to 20%, while the figure for those who believe that we face a downturn has risen dramatically from 21% to 38%. However, marketers remain in a more optimistic mood than they were in the autumn of 2005, when just 13% were predicting a rosy future and a depressing 40% were preparing for the worst. Once again marketers are more confident about their own future than that of the wider economy: 59% believe their own business will improve over the next 12 months and only 14% say things will get worse.

Nearly three-fifths (58%) of working marketers say marketing is given a high priority within their organisation. Once again, smaller businesses are the most inclined to believe in the power of marketing, and while 80% of small organisations rate marketing as a high priority, this figure falls to 55% in larger organisations. However this gap has closed since autumn 2005, when the statistics were 88% and 49% respectively.

It would appear that digital communications are yet to move into the mainstream in most marketing departments. Of the five types of digital communications covered by the study, viral marketing and corporate blogs are the most popular. But still they are used by only one in 12 companies at least “a fair amount”. Interestingly, the smallest companies are the most likely to use viral marketing, and 13% of those working in organisations with a turnover of less than £1m claim to use it “a fair amount”, compared with 6% of their colleagues in companies turning over £100m or more.

Concerns are growing about whether technologies that store customer information are moving ahead of marketers’ understanding of the ethical and moral dilemmas they pose. Whereas in spring 2006, just over half (56%) agreed that this is an issue, this figure rose to 63% in autumn 2006 and 68% in this latest study. 

Geoff%20HurstThe Marketing Trends Survey confirms that keeping up to date with current thinking and maintaining skills has never been more important for the modern marketer. The added pressure of coping with ever-increasing legislation means marketers need to assess their knowledge and the measures. Our study shows that only 20% of marketers believe that legal regulations have had a positive impact on their organisation’s activities. A good understanding of these laws and their consequences will help marketers to take appropriate actions to minimise this negative impact. The majority of marketers are still not making use of the full spectrum of technologies available. The numbers answering ‘not at all’ when asked how regularly they used podcasts, corporate blogs, mobile marketing and viral marketing has actually increased since the survey was last conducted in autumn 2006.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Marketing Trends Survey is conducted online by Ipsos MORI. Over 1,600 marketing professionals took part in the study, conducted between April 19 and May 9 2007


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