53% of UK companies use the social media as a marketing tool which has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, a report released yesterday by Catalogues4Business would suggest that half of the companies using this medium have no conception what they’re doing. Few understand the medium fully, and the majority has no strategy in place to run campaigns effectively. The conclusion of the report is that the majority of these businesses tend to take an ad hoc approach to social media marketing strategy and make up the rules as they go along. This inevitably leads to a failure to align marketing channels, which negatively impacts branding (and sales) efforts.
The report, called ‘Channel Vision’ was put together by design, print and marketing specialists Catalogues 4 Business.
C4B questioned 123 organisations within the UK, asking them a number of questions around their current and future business and marketing plans. Many of those interviewed were small and medium-sized enterprises, but the report also captured the views of some of the most significant players. One in ten had a £50 million plus turnover and 6% had annual sales exceeding £100 million. Many of these companies stated they would be introducing a number of new tools to their marketing mix over the next 12 months, with social media and digital marketing topping the list. Just over a third (36%) are adding it to their marketing activities this year, with a fifth (19%) looking to add a website with e-commerce functionality for the first time.
All of which is good news according to Ian Simpson, Managing Director at Catalogues4Business.
However, he was quick to add the caveat that social media marketing was pointless without a strategy: The major problem C4B found was that businesses were finding their efforts with content marketing or email campaigns were not aligning well with their social media marketing. Consequently because search, social and other channels weren’t working collectively to direct consumers through the conversion funnel, the businesses risked sending disconnected brand messages which could lead to reduced sales. Simpson commented:
“It’s great to see so many companies embracing social media and digital marketing. It can be a very powerful tool, but as with most marketing activities, there must be a strategy in place, and some joined up thinking. This will ensure each marketing activity is working with each other and working to the max. Otherwise you can quickly find you’ve wasted a lot of time, and money, and not got much to show for it.”
The respondents claimed that the main driving tools for sales were their e-commerce sites, email marketing and catalogues, though strangely 13 percent of those questioned claimed they no longer bothered with a catalogue because their customers shopped mainly online. This information came as a something of a surprise to Simpson:
“It’s strange to hear companies say they don’t need a catalogue, because their customers only shop online. Yet it (a catalogue) is clearly a powerful sales tool, making the top three of sales drivers listed by those interviewed. If a business has products or services that it sells online it is likely to be able to deploy a catalogue. Consumers are driven to websites via catalogues and direct mail. It’s about integrating the two, offline and online tactics, so that consumers are reached through all mediums and channels.”
“As the web has grown, competition for a place within it has become ferocious. Ad word and affiliate programs have developed into an industry in their own right and, combined with all the other e-based marketing activity, represent a potential significant marketing spend, yet still the single biggest thing businesses can do to drive traffic to their web site is targeted direct marketing, through mailing catalogues. Without doubt, many saw the relentless rise of the web and internet marketing as the death knell for paper catalogues and other mailings. In truth, they should lie as uneasy bedfellows — they are at opposite ends of the technological scale; the old dependable versus the wiz kid! But it is clear they each have their place and they can learn from each other.”