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3 items that should be in your 2010 e-mail budget

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After hearing about job and spending cuts for months, e-mail marketing company ExactTarget, in conjunction with training and advice provider Econsultancy, this week released a new research brief that contains a little good news about marketing spending. The brief, “More Money, More Channels: Marketing Budgets in 2010,” outlines what more than 1,000 marketers that were surveyed said about their expected spending habits this year.

The biggest take-away from the report: 46% of marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2010, and 66% of respondents said they will increase their digital marketing budget. More than a quarter—28%—said they were shifting at least some of their overall marketing budgets from traditional to digital channels. More than half, about 54%, said they were increasing e-mail marketing budgets. But what does this mean for marketers? Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy, identified these three key spending areas that marketers should consider when allocating money in their budgets.

1) Travel and conferences. Over the past few years, conference attendance has been down as companies slashed their travel budgets. However, by missing out on face-to-face opportunities, marketers are also missing out on learning from other marketers, Stewart said. “We’re caught in a tidal wave of social marketing, but people really need to interact and rub shoulders with other marketers so they can hear about what people are doing right and which mistakes they are making so they can use that information in their own marketing programs,” he said.

Travel budget still not freed up? Stewart suggested making time in your day to peruse LinkedIn groups—the Email Experience Council sponsors a good one, he said—and other such options that let you connect one-on-one. Twitter is another tool for marketers, he said. “There are people creating e-mail marketing lists on Twitter. It’s really valuable to follow people who are more experienced marketers than you are and see what they are reading about,” he said. “It gives you context as to what’s important to follow.”

2) Training. You can create the best marketing message out there, but if you’re not keeping up to date with the latest e-mail marketing strategy and tools, you’re going to fall behind. E-mail service providers often offer training programs and roundtable discussions in your own city. In addition, marketing professionals can take online courses and training sponsored by business schools and industry groups. “Investment in training is lagging behind; it’s one of the budgets that got cut,” Stewart said. “As more money is shifted online, however, marketers need better understanding of what’s going on, so marketers really need to consider thinking about training, equipment and investment in new training programs.”

3) Retention marketing. “We see 54% of marketers are planning to increase budgets in retention marketing,” Stewart said. He suggested marketers think about the idea of brand reputation when considering how to spend those retention dollars. “People are tired of hearing about relevance, but in today’s world where, if marketers are not delivering relevant content, people start ‘tweeting’ things that are less-than-encouraging, it’s really important to consider recipient expectations and a general respect for their time and what they actually need.”

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