The struggle to manage marketing and communications programs across different channels, a challenge that has persisted for decades, is still one of the main challenges facing marketers today, according to the 2012 Marketing Executive Survey from ClickSquared, Boston, Mass., and The Relevancy Group, Spring Lake, N.J.

According to the research, 74 percent of the more than 400 marketers surveyed indicated they would like to use a cross-channel campaign management suite -- a clear indication that they're searching for a better way to aggregate customer data and improve communication.

“For the second consecutive year, marketers are telling us they're working in silos and rarely sharing customer data or best practices across their organization,” David Daniels, co-founder and CEO, The Relevancy Group, said upon release of the research. “It's no wonder that nearly three-quarters of them would like to adopt a single-source campaign management suite.”

Today only 32 percent of companies surveyed had a centralized data repository for client data. Using technology could also help pull together the effort of marketers who are often in separate silos for e-mail, direct and social marketing, according to the researchers.

The need to manage across different channels is more important now than ever before due to the meteoric growth of social networking:

  • Three hundred million people use Twitter, and another 400,000 accounts are created every day. The research also showed that Twitter can be an effective customer acquisition tool.
  • More than 72 percent of U.S. consumers have SMS accounts.

The survey also showed that while more marketers continue to deploy social marketing initiatives, e-mail remained the most active channel for marketers with 67 percent of those surveyed indicating it's their primary vehicle. That said, only 32 percent of those surveyed knew the value of their e-mail subscribers.

According to the survey, marketers send out a mean of 6.6 million e-mail message per month. Those with 10 million customer records send out a mean of 21.4 million e-mails per month. Those firms with at least $1 billion in annual revenue send out a mean of 15.5 million e-mails per month.

The “short burst society” increases by the number of consumers adopting shorter communications styles, the companies said in discussing the research. Consumers spend only 28 seconds reading e-mails, so it is important to keep copy short and to the point and make sure image sizes are designed for mobile communications.

The top three priorities for marketers include: greater use of analytics to optimize mailings; integrating into social channels and leveraging social data; and improving segmentation and targeting, with the latter two priorities appearing on the priority list for the second consecutive year.

Although not as high as the year prior, 29 percent of respondents still indicated that the lack of budget to fund the marketing program remains the number one challenge. Managing offers across multiple campaigns and coordinating campaigns across channels followed closely.

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