Crowd scene

In business, as in life, we often tend to find our best paths forward by looking to the past – by taking stock of what we’ve done previously, of what has and hasn’t worked, and charting a course accordingly.

It was in this spirit that we at Act-On first set out to do a monthly marketing survey, back in 2011. For 2013, from January through December, we surveyed 28,891 marketers the world over to get a sense of the campaigns most marketers leveraged, the obstacles they faced, and the improvements they’d hoped to make. Here was what we found; we hope it’s interesting.

Email remains a preferred form of outreach and driver of sales.

When asked to identify the different types of campaigns they use, marketers overwhelmingly threw their support behind email, with 75% of respondents between January and July pointing to email as a platform they utilize and with another 39% taking note of revenue it generates. Of those surveyed between September and December, 52% said that email fueled their sales pipeline directly (with events and tradeshows not far behind), and 66% looked forward to staging new email campaigns in the coming year.

Survey results

This graph shows the results for Question 1 of Act-On’s September 2013 survey

According to MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, companies sending over 100,000 emails per month see a 94% return on investment; companies sending under 100,000 see a 139% return. Clearly, marketers are investing in what works.

The bottom line to all this? Email’s still the stalwart. Look for it to evolve in new and exciting ways as 2014 gets underway, perhaps by capitalizing on trends like geotargeting (what Marketing Land calls the first ever, real-time inbox), and innovating ways to use mobile email.

Social media still has a point to prove.

Though most of our respondents pointed to email as their principal form of outreach, many felt that social media doesn’t come far behind. Of those surveyed between January and July, 70% put social media as a close second when it came to campaigns they currently implemented. Another 62% of marketers reported between September and December that they planned to leverage more campaigns on social in 2014 – suggesting that while it might not match email in terms of reliable ROI, social media nonetheless has an important role to play, and will continue its explosive growth in the year to come.

For those who might be looking to get a jump on their campaigns for social, Forbes has these insights to share, and our esteemed Director of Communications has these projections to make.

Marketing automation holds the keys to improved revenue performance.

When told to identify their main concerns with the tools they used, marketers pointed (perhaps unsurprisingly) to two areas in particular: cost and time. Of all marketers surveyed in 2013, 43% reported that cost often determined what programs they ran, while another 37% said they also considered the time commitment and resources those programs required. This may not come as much surprise to those among us who deal with these tradeoffs daily; but what’s worth noting, here, is the cost-cutting, time-saving solution before us that many overlook: marketing automation.

A staggering 50% of marketers who took the survey from September to January said they weren’t familiar with marketing automation. And yet, according to Gartner, marketing automation can save 15% on creative production and cut overall waste at least by 5%. In fact, says Bulldog Solutions, companies that invest in marketing automation see on average a 75% faster sales cycle, and a 54% increase in quota achievement; one vendor even managed to cut customer acquisitions costs by 50% through marketing automation, according to Marketing Sherpa.

The message is clear: marketing automation can save businesses valuable time and money, and, as Act-On’s CMO points out, has the capacity to impact the entire customer lifecycle, from acquisition and beyond.

See for yourself: Attend a 30-minute demo of Act-On and get an overview of the benefits of marketing automation – and a $10 Tango Card!

Photo credit: “Concert Crowd (Osheaga 2009) – 30000 waiting for Coldplay” Anirudh Koul, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license