Agencies and in-house marketers claim measuring return on investment is their primary challenge in the social media marketing space, according to research by Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO). Despite its perceived accountability, the report also found similar issues in gauging the success of search marketing efforts.
“The State of Search Engine Marketing Report,” compiled by Econsultancy, surveyed 1,472 in-house marketers and agency executives during January and February this year, and concluded measuring ROI and “making a business case for investment” were the two biggest hurdles respondents faced when managing social media campaigns.
Of those surveyed, 63 percent of the in-house marketers identified ROI measurement as one of their “greatest challenges,” compared with 58 percent of agency respondents. Both groups also reported difficulties in making a business case for investment and gaining access to budgets for social media campaigns. Agencies and marketers identified brand awareness, customer engagement, and site traffic metrics as their most important metrics for gauging the success of such efforts, but the report did not detail how that data was tracked.
Facebook and Twitter were cited as the primary social media sites that respondents use to promote their businesses or clients. Interestingly, 73 percent of companies reported using Twitter to promote their brand in the 2010 survey, but the service did not register in the top 10 social networks listed in the 2009 report, demonstrating Twitter’s massive growth in the past 12 months. In that period, Facebook appears to have dropped off slightly, with 83 percent claiming to make use of it in 2009 and 74 percent doing so this year.
In addition, the report found similar issues in the paid search space, with 43 percent of respondents highlighting ROI measurement as a primary challenge, compared with 40 percent of agency representatives. Results were similar for search engine optimization (SEO), with 42 percent of companies and 40 percent of agencies making the same claim, respectively.
In the paid search space, respondents also reported a clear improvement in ROI from Microsoft’s Bing engine – more so than market leader Google – suggesting the company’s investment in the product may have improved its offering. Among agency respondents, 88 percent said their ROI from Bing has stayed the same or improved over the past year, compared with 80 percent for Google and 68 percent for Yahoo. In-house marketers had similar experiences, with 83 percent reporting similar or improved results through Bing, compared with 78 percent through Google and 73 percent via Yahoo.
In terms of the overall U.S. search market, SEMPO suggests the sector will reach $16.6 billion in 2010, up 14 percent on 2009.
You can follow Jack Marshall on Twitter at @JackMarshall.
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