Online Marketing Gaining Steam

It’s true, at least according to research group International Data Corp. (IDC): most U.S. companies are using online marketing.

IDC interviewed executives at some 350 U.S. businesses about their current and planned use of Web marketing and found that most firms are actively planning or using some form of online marketing.

Despite the downturn in the industry’s fortunes, 99 percent of the respondents — which IDC said represents the spectrum of the U.S. economy — said they currently conduct online marketing activities, are in the process of initiating them or intend to implement them within the next 12 months.

The reason? IDC’s Liz Leonard, a senior analyst in the firm’s E-Marketing Services research program, said the findings represent companies’ faith in the Web’s ability to reach broad audiences and to glean information about customers.

“Companies that have successfully leveraged the Internet medium for marketing activities stand to gain broader customer reach and insight through enhanced interaction than those companies neglecting Internet media, forcing all businesses to examine their online marketing strategies,” Leonard said.

While the findings are optimistic — and something of a shock in these difficult times for the online marketing industry — Leonard warned that service providers’ biggest challenge is seizing upon the opportunity to sell their services, not creating demand for Web marketing.

“Today, the question is not whether to embrace multichannel marketing,” she said. “Rather, it’s ‘do we build, buy, or borrow online marketing expertise?'”

Fortunately for vendors, most of the respondents in IDC’s survey said they currently favor the buying route, with 53 percent of the companies saying they would outsource some or all of their online marketing. However, interest in doing so varies significantly by industry and among clients.

For one, B2C companies are 14 percent more likely to spend money on online marketing campaigns than B2B firms, according to IDC. Additionally, the two sectors approach outsourced Web marketing differently: consumer-focused players look first for vendors with expertise marketing to specific user segments, while B2B businesses consider marketing technologies before target audiences.

“Companies have very different ideas about the types of online marketing services they want to outsource,” Leonard said. “To compete successfully in this space, online marketing service providers will need to understand the differences and be able to recognize patterns … before they can tap into this opportunity.”

Reprinted from internet.com’s Internet Advertising Report.

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