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Search marketing budgets are set to rise, with companies increasing spend on PPC and SEO in 2014.
58% of companies plan to increase their paid search budgets this year, up from 55% in 2013, while 55% will spend more on SEO, up from 51% a year ago.
Here are a few of the key findings from the report...
Companies see the need for marketing budget flexibility
Effective digital marketing means seeing what works and what doesn't, and switching tactics as appropriate. It seems that companies are increasingly using this approach.
Only 13% of responding companies have marketing budgets that are rigidly split by channel. This is good news given the increasingly integrated and agile nature of effective marketing.
The majority of companies either have flexibility to shift budget across channels based on ROI (43%) or have no channel splits in their digital marketing budget (44%).
Do you have separate budgets for different digital marketing channels? (company respondents)
CRO budgets are set to rise
Companies will be the most likely to increase their budget for conversion rate optimisation.
This backs up our Conversion Rate Optimisation report last year, which found that 87% of marketers believe that CRO has become more important over the last five years.
CRO can work well and deliver a greater ROI than other options, as these case studies show.
Three in five companies expect to be allocating more financial resource to CRO, while 58% and 55% (respectively) will be doing the same for paid search and SEO.
Do you expect your budgets to increase or decrease in the next 12 months? (company respondents)
Effective measurement is a problem
It appears that measuring the impact of investment in digital channels has become more problematic.
Only 36% of companies stated that they have ‘a definitive tracking solution to measure consistently across different digital channels’.
Do you or your clients have a definitive tracking solution to measure consistently across different digital channels?
Just 44% are currently able to measure paid search return on investment (ROI) effectively, down from 53% last year.
Measuring ROI for search engine optimisation has been even more problematic, with a 14% drop in the proportion of companies effectively tracking return on investment in this area.
Meanwhile, companies were most likely to select measuring success as the key barrier to success in their social media marketing and display advertising efforts.
Sentiment towards Enhanced Campaigns is far from positive
Enhanced Campaigns were introduced by Google last year, and were not universally welcomed. Despite the name, many search marketers felt that this move made their lives more difficult.
The removal of the ability to target campaigns to specific devices was a major gripe, as was the increased costs of the new system.
A year or so on from its introduction, we asked marketers and it seems that sentiment towards Enhanced Campaigns isn't too positive.
What impact has Google’s introduction of Enhanced Campaigns had on your / your clients’ paid search marketing?
Only 14% of companies say that Enhanced Campaigns have had a positive effect on paid search marketing, mostly due to improvements to mobile search.
Meanwhile, a quarter of responding companies say impact has been non-existent and more than half (53%) are still yet to make their mind with regards to the service.
Companies that felt Enhanced Campaigns had a negative impact seemed to be uncomfortable with the forced inclusion of mobile campaigns and the general increase in cost.
Here are some comments from respondents:
This is a mixed bag. When the adverts went live, Google defaulted it so that they made more money which is not good. However, once you get to grip with the filters they do allow for better targeting.
Customers are currently unable to purchase our products on mobile and tablet, and as such we are wasting 20% of our PPC budget on tablet advertising.
Few marketers are making extensive use of Google+
This year’s research illustrates most marketers’ apathy to Google’s social endeavours.
Though some brands are making efforts with Google+, most companies are making limited efforts to exploit the opportunities which are available.
- 65% of companies reported that they have created Google+ brand pages.
- 26% are adding video and images to Google+ local pages.
- 28% are encouraging customers to engage and share content on Google+.
- 19% have encouraged staff to create accounts on G+.
Some marketers have been exploring its impact on search-related activities. 26% have researched the impact of search engine visibility, while 22% have linked their Google+ accounts to AdWords campaigns.
Bearing in mind that more companies use paid advertising opportunities on Facebook (74%), Twitter (37%) and LinkedIn (37%), it is fair to assume marketers are generally unconvinced about the benefits of Google+.