Advertising and Sponsorship Dollars Should Increase in ’10 Driven by Continued Growth in Digital

By Association Adviser staff • July 5, 2010

By Association Adviser Staff

Although declines in print advertising expenditures appear to be leveling off, take note. If your non-dues revenue budget depends on—or soon will depend on—generating advertising and sponsorship dollars, then make sure your business development team is up to speed on the continued shift of your potential sponsors’ marketing budgets from traditional channels to digital channels. Here’s why:

While slightly less than half (46%) of companies plan to increase their overall marketing budgets in 2010’s uncertain economic climate, two out of three (66%) say they’ll be increasing their investment in digital marketing channels, according to a new Econsultancy/ExactTarget survey of more than 1,000 marketers nationwide.

  • The migration of ad dollars from traditional media to new media is unlikely to reverse itself. Make sure your sales and business development team are up to speed on what each new media channel can and cannot do for your sponsors.
  • Research finds the biggest impediments to advancing new media intiatives at many associations are: failing to understand digital marketing fully (48%); restricted budgets (40%); and lack of staff (35%).
  • Social media is a powerful tool but it must be kept in check. Limit social media activities to 30 minutes per day; use alerts or RSS feeds to receive information from sites you trust and take a break from the Net daily. Make time each day to call, write and reflect.

Researchers say one reason for the continued shift to digital marketing is that marketers find it easier to track the impact these channels have on hard financial metrics. One-third (34%) of marketers told researchers that their digital marketing budgets were based on “more science than art.” In contrast, just one in five (20%) said their traditional marketing budgets were based on “more science than art.”

The ExactTarget survey found that marketers who focus on branding are more likely to increase their spending in online display, mobile marketing and social media (such as Facebook and Twitter), and less likely to hike their spending on search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing and acquisition-based e-mail.

READER NOTE: Contact Naylor’s Dana Plotke or Marcus Underwood if you’d like more information about incorporating social media into your marketing arsenal.

With that said, two-thirds (64%) of marketers are planning to increase search engine optimization (SEO) budgets while half (54%) will increase retention e-mail marketing budgets. Only three percent of marketers plan to decrease budgets in each of these areas.

In addition to examining how marketers plan to allocate their marketing dollars in 2010, ExactTarget research highlights some of the challenges that exist in digital marketing.

The biggest impediments to advancing digital marketing and social media initiatives at surveyed organizations were:

  1. “lack of understanding about digital marketing” (48%)
  2. “restricted budgets” (40%)
  3. “lack of staff” (35%)

These challenges closely mirrored the challenges articulated by respondents to Naylor’s Association Executive Director survey in late 2009 (see related article in this issue).

Additional budgeting highlights:

  • 70 percent of responding companies plan to increase their budgets for off-site social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter)
  • More than half of companies plan to increase their budgets for mobile marketing (56%), e-mail marketing (54%) and paid search (51%)

Preventing social media brain drain

Like anything else, too much of a good thing can have adverse consequences. Many professionals, especially the younger members of your staff, have a tendency to “hide behind their monitor, tweeting away” when they should be out shaking hands, making presentations and generating leads, said Richard Fencil, a Conn.-based Web marketer, in a recent Internet Marketing Report interview.

Whether you’re in consumer marketing, B2B or the association world,’s John Jantsch believes you need to keep social media in check. He recommends the following measures:

  • Ration your social media activities. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on social media activities. Use a stopwatch or alarm clock if you have to.
  • Use alerts or RSS feeds. Get news and information delivered to your inbox so you don’t need to scour a variety of sites.
  • Turn off the Internet daily. Make time each day to call, write and reflect.

Twitter alone is not a social media program

Growth of Twitter (—the popular, easy to use microblogging service that has taken the digital generation by storm—is finally slowing and a lot of current Twitterers—about five in six (83%) of its estimated 75 million users—haven’t sent out a single tweet (aka post) in the last month, according to a late-January study released by RJMetrics, Inc., which develops online metric-analysis software. That’s down from more than 70 percent in early 2007 when Twitter was a fledgling company with far, far fewer users.

According to today’s RJMetrics report, people who have joined Twitter aren’t creating much of a presence there. The average Twitter user has 27 followers, which is down from 42 followers in August, according to the new study. About 25 percent of users—up from 20 percent last August—have no followers at all. Upwards of 40 percent of users only have between one and five followers.

And a lack of engagement is showing up. The study noted that about 80% of all Twitter users have tweeted fewer than 10 times, up five percentage points from just five months ago.

Twitter is a powerful tool in your organization’s marketing toolkit, but it takes time, patience, endurance and cleverness to draw a large number of the RIGHT kind of followers.

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