Marketers Keep Spending on Social Despite Lack of Results

Only 11.5% of Marketers Can Prove the Quantitative Impact of Social Media, Survey Says

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Marketers are expected to nearly double their social media spending in the next five years even though most can't show the impact of social on their business, according to the biannual CMO Survey released Tuesday by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association and Deloitte.

The survey, based on online responses from 289 marketers, revealed that social media spend currently makes up about 10.6% of marketing budgets and that number is expected to jump to 20.9% in five years. In 2009, marketers allocated just 5.6% of their budgets to social.

Source: American Marketing Association, Deloitte and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Despite the increase in spend, almost half (47.9%) of marketers surveyed said they haven't been able to show the impact yet on their business. More than 40% said they have a good qualitative sense of impact, while 11.5% said they can prove the impact of social quantitatively.

Christine Moorman, a Fuqua professor and director of The CMO Survey, said marketers are continuing to spend on social because of its important role in connecting directly with customers. But they're choosing to put their dollars in specific areas, with 62.6% of companies saying they'll invest in content creation this year and 43.6% focusing on analytics.

Ms. Moorman added that it makes sense for marketers to spend on analytics since they want to look at ways to improve their performance impact related to social.

On a scale from one to seven, companies in the survey rated the effectiveness of social being linked to their overall marketing strategies, with the mean rating coming out to 4.2.

"If companies really want to get the biggest bang out of social, it has to be better connected with the rest of marketing," said Ms. Moorman. "Social media should be aligned to support marketing and they should be linked back to social."

Another finding from the survey shows "consistent drop-offs for traditional advertising spending," said Ms. Moorman, with companies reporting a negative growth rate of 3.2% in traditional ad spend in the next 12 months.

However, mobile marketing spend is expected to more than double in the next three years, going from 5.9% of the overall budget to 14.6%, according to the survey. Marketing hires are also expected to increase by 5% over the next year, and marketing budgets are anticipated to climb 6.9% in the next year.

One number that Ms. Moorman finds "really alarming because it's not going up" is the integration level of how effectively companies think they integrate customer information across purchasing, communication and social media. On a scale from one to seven, the mean integration level was 3.4, down slightly from August's rating of 3.6 and the February 2015 rating of 3.7. Ms. Moorman said the low numbers could be from each team listed -- social, purchasing and communications -- working in silos rather than collaboratively.

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