Our research team has been extremely busy this year writing dozens of reports on digital marketing and ecommerce.

Due to the vast amount of content they produce it’s possible that some of them may have escaped your attention, so here’s a round up of most of our surveys and reports from 2012 including some of the juiciest stats.

The topics include conversion rate optimization, multichannel shopping, content marketing, digital outsourcing, user testing, email and search.

So, here are the stats…

Testing improves conversions

  • Stats from the Econsultancy/RedEye Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2012 show that companies whose conversion rates have improved over the previous 12 months are performing on average 24% more tests and using 26% more methods to improve conversion than those companies whose conversion rates have not improved.
  • 70% of the responding organisations who said they had a structured approach to conversion had improved sales.
  • This year’s survey also found that companies who adopt a structured approach are nearly twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales.

90% agree that content marketing will become more important in the next 12 months

  • More than 90% of marketers believe that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months, according to data included in our Content Marketing Survey Report sponsored by Outbrain.
  • In addition, nearly three quarters (73%) of digital marketers agree that ‘brands are becoming publishers’.
  • However, less than half of companies have dedicated budgets (34%) or dedicated individuals (46%) for content marketing.
  • Furthermore, less than half of all companies spend more than 20% of their marketing budget on content, despite the fact that only 12% disagree with the statement that “content marketing is more effective than advertising in driving sales.”

The majority of agencies that outsource find it very effective for their business

  • Outsourcing is practised by over half (57%) of the agencies that participated in the Econsultancy/United Studios Digital Outsourcing Survey Report 2012, showing that it is a widely-used means of completing digital work. 
  • Advertising agencies and creative/brand agencies surveyed are most likely to outsource according to the results. The vast majority of agencies who currently outsource feel that it is very effective for their business, and most plan to grow their level of outsourcing over the next year.
  • The areas most likely to be outsourced are technical work (66%), search engine marketing (34%), and creative (30%).

25% of companies use attribution modelling

  • The growth of Google Analytics appaears to have reached a plateau, but a significant number of companies are considering the use of Google Analytics Premium.
  • The Econsultancy/Lynchpin Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2012 shows that almost half of companies (47%) state that they use Google Analytics exclusively for web analytics.
  • Although this is 3% higher than last year, this represents a slowing of growth from 2011 (+6%) and 2010 (+15%). The percentage of companies not using Google Analytics has remained constant at 14% since 2011.
  • Furthermore, a quarter of companies (25%) state that they do attribution modelling, a figure which is almost the same as 2011 (24%). The proportion of companies who have a framework for analysing customer journeys that cross online and offline has decreased from 22% to 19% in the past year.

90% of consumers research online before buying in-store

  • The demand for multichannel retail is high in the UK and US, with 87% and 85% of respondents in the UK and US respectively sometimes or always seeing the ability to purchase from a retailer from different channels as important. 
  • Data from our Multichannel Retail Survey shows that more than 90% of respondents in both the UK and US use the internet to research purchases before buying from a local store, highlighting the importance of positive customer reviews and an informative website with good usability.
  • The report also highlights the importance of reserve and collect services. Large multichannel retailers in the UK, such as Argos, have seen these services account for a high proportion of their sales, though the service is less popular in the US.
  • Collectively, 80% of UK respondents reserve products online, whereas only 55% of US respondents do the same.

Two thirds of companies struggle to integrate their marketing channels

  • Less than a third of companies (32%) rate themselves as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ at driving marketing campaigns which are co-ordinated across different channels, according to data from our Cross-Channel Marketing Report sponsored by Responsys.

  • There is generally a strong correlation between the extent to which channels are integrated and the ease of integration, including for email marketing and website activity which are both the most successfully integrated and the most straightforward to integrate.
  • Online display advertising is an exception to this correlation, with 75% saying this is straightforward to integrate but only 29% saying it is very integrated.The highest priority channels for organisations over the next year are all online: website development, email marketing and social media.

Use of qualitative user testing methods is on the increase

  • In conjunction with web analytics, companies increasingly value qualitative methods (used in conjunction with data) to understand the user journey and reduce customer struggle, according to our Reducing Customer Struggle report sponsored by Tealeaf. 
  • There is more focus on trying to turn qualitative insights into actionable data points. This is becoming even more important as the amount of interaction via mobile devices increases exponentially, often changing the customer journey fundamentally.
  • Information contained in customer emails (43%), calls to the customer service teams (45%), online feedback tools (35%), usability/heatmaps (40%) and digital experience (session) replay (57%) are the methods seen as most effective for identifying issues with the online experience.
  • The report also shows that the proportion of companies with formal structures and processes in place to improve the customer experience has increased from 40% to 49% since the 2011 report.

Talent shortage holds back digital marketing industry in Asia

  • The Econsultancy/Campaign Asia-Pacific State of Digital Marketing in Asia report reveals that a combination of lack of senior level understanding and a skills and talent shortage could potentially cause widespread challenges across the industry.
  • Nearly three-quarters (70%) of client-side marketers say their companies intend to increase digital budgets over the next year. This is comparable to just under half (49%) who say they will increase their overall marketing budgets during the same time period.

  • But in-company marketers have a more rose-tinted view of digital skills compared to their agency counterparts. For example, 31% of client-side respondents say that the level of digital knowledge within their organisation is “excellent” or “good”, compared to 19% of suppliers citing the same level of capability.
  • Equally, when asked about the level of understanding among senior company directors, 14% of client-side marketers said this was “excellent”, compared to only 3% of supply-side respondents.

57% of businesses plan to increase their search spend this year

  • The sixth annual UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report published by Econsultancy/NetBooster shows that search and social media marketing investment continues to grow, with only a small minority of responding companies planning to decrease their spending.
  • Nearly two-thirds of companies (62%) plan to increase social media spending in the next 12 months and 57% will increase their SEO spending and 49% will invest more in paid search.
  • A large number of companies are still spending relatively small amounts on social media marketing, but nearly one in ten (9%) of those changing their budgets this year will more than double their spend.

More than half of consumers with a computer use the device while watching TV

  • Multi-tasking across devices has arrived, but unlike some other digital phenomena it’s not the sole territory of early adopters.
  • The Multi-Screen Marketer report published by Econsultancy/IAB shows that even among those respondents with just a television and computer (2SCRNs), 52% report that it’s somewhat or very likely that they’re using another device while watching television. 
  • With each screen added to the mix, that percentage rises, with 60% of smartphone users (3SCRNs) and 65% of tablet owners (4SCRNs) saying that multi-device use is the norm while watching TV.
  • Multi-screen behaviours can be a positive for publishers and advertisers. Those with tablets are significantly more likely (47%) to take an action (voting, purchasing, etc.) in response to what they’re watching than their peers with three screens (37%). That number rises to 56% of younger tablet owners (18-44 years old).

Email is second only to search for ROI

  • The sixth annual Email Marketing Industry Census 2012, sponsored by Adestra, shows that email is still seen as a channel that offers a good return on investment.
  • 70% of company respondents rate email as “excellent” or “good” in terms of ROI. No other channel, except SEO, is rated as highly. For comparison, only 44% believe social media offers an “excellent” or “good” ROI.

  • Only 31% of companies surveyed regularly test their email marketing campaigns. But 81% of companies who do regular testing for email marketing say their ROI from email is excellent or good, compared to 72% for those who do “occasional” testing, 65% for those who do “infrequent” testing and only 37% for those who “don’t test”.
  • The report also shows that companies who are practising basic segmentation are 95% more likely to rate email ROI as excellent or good than those who do not use even basic segmentation, nor have plans to do so.

45% of marketers who use a tag management solution say the costs associated with tagging are significantly reduced

  • Website vendor tags sit at the heart of online business and marketing. They enable communication between marketing technology vendors and the sites that use them. 
  • In fact, 87% of the respondents to the Econsultancy and Tealium ROI of Tag Management Survey agree that “effectively managing website tags is fundamental to digital marketing.”
  • Fully 88% of respondents believe that digital marketing will only get more data-driven as tools are added at nearly all levels of digital marketing. As sites deploy more marketing technologies, managing the tags themselves can become a challenge.
  • The report also shows that 73% of respondents who use a tag management solution report that the costs associated with tagging are reduced. 45% describe it as “significantly less expensive.”

86% of marketers predict digital budget growth

  • Changes to the Google algorithm affected a large percentage of marketers in 2012, or at least has them concerned.
  • 87% call the updates of the last 12-18 months “significant or highly significant.” In most cases marketers feel the overall effect to be positive, according to data from our SEMPO State of Search Marketing Report 2012.
  • Digital continues to be a bright spot in marketing, and within it, SEM and social shine. A whopping 86% of respondents predict digital budget growth, up from 77% in 2011, with 37% calling that growth “significant.” Remarkably, only 4% predict a reduction in digital budgets.
  • The 2012 survey shows a sharp drop in those reporting they regularly mount PPC campaigns on Facebook, down from 74% to 56%. However, this doesn’t mean a drop in total spending, as those no longer using the service fall toward the SMB end of the spectrum.

Digital marketing budgets increase in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Digital marketing is experiencing tremendous growth in the Middle East and North Africa, demonstrated by a significant increase in proportionate digital spend.
  • Since the last State of Digital report in April 2011, the average proportion of marketing budget spent on digital has increased from 22% to 27% in 2012. This is an impressive growth rate over the period of a year, and demonstrates that digital is increasingly the focus for investment.

  • Data included in The State of Digital Marketing in the Middle East and North Africa 2012, sponsored by ArabianBusiness.com, also indicates that 52% of companies are increasing their digital marketing budgets by at least 20%.
  • In terms of absolute spend, the research found that 33% of companies have an annual digital marketing budget of under $10,000, while 24% spend between $10,000 and $50,000 on online marketing.