According to a survey of 1068 marketing professionals worldwide, 66% of respondents will be investing in Social Media Marketing (SMM) in the next 12 months.

Of those investing in SMM, 40% said they would be shifting more than a fifth of their traditional direct marketing budget towards funding their SMM activities. This supports other statistics from the survey which found that the majority of respondents (67%) feel social media is either ‘increasingly important’ or ‘critical to success’.

This year marks the start of the digital decade for marketing. Untargeted and irrelevant marketing techniques are now redundant and the results of this survey show many in the industry recognise this. The one thing to remember, however, is that investment in Social Media Marketing is futile without adequate measurement.

The survey found more than a third (36%) of respondents are investing in social media monitoring and analysis tools. This is a significant percentage considering the maturity of the channel and reflects the growing understanding that a social media marketing strategy needs to be based on listening to customers and prospects and its ROI needs to be measured.

Without the adequate investment in listening and measurement tools it renders any anticipated investment in social media ineffectual. The key to an effective social media strategy is listening.

The survey went further to explore the extent to which organisations integrate marketing technologies across their organisation. Almost half of respondents (42%) said they don’t incorporate clickstream and Web analytics data into their customer and e-mail database. This is a worrying statistic as it shows many organisations are losing any advantage that this valuable actionable insight could give them.

The research also explored the importance of customer engagement and found that over half of respondents (51%) are placing a ‘fair’ or ‘significant’ amount of effort on moving from a campaign-centric direct marketing model towards multichannel customer engagement – in fact only 7% are making no effort at all.

Engaging with customers is becoming paramount and the yardstick by which we measure those brands that survive and those that don’t. Marketers now need to appeal to the individual and engage with customers on a one-to-one basis. The easiest way to achieve this is by investing in Social Media Marketing and Social Media Monitoring, and by embracing the Web.