Corporate Eye

The Gap Between Most Effective and Easiest to Execute Digital Marketing

digital mapNew research from Ascend2 identifies just how big the gap is between the most effective digital marketing initiatives and the digital marketing initiatives that are easiest to execute.

A total of 333 marketing, sales, and business professionals from around the world were interviewed for the Digital Marketing Strategy study, and an overwhelming majority (89%) reported that their digital marketing was very successful or successful to some extent.  More than one out of two respondents (51%) indicated that their biggest challenge to digital marketing success was a lack of an effective strategy.

However, the most interesting data in the report focuses on what respondents identified as the most effective digital marketing initiatives vs. the easiest to implement. In fact, there was an obvious correlation between the two. The easier the digital marketing initiative is to implement, the more likely respondents were to cite it as being effective.

Let’s take a closer look at the data.

When respondents were asked to identify the most effective types of digital marketing that they have used, the following results were recorded:

  • Email: 54%
  • Website and blogs: 48%
  • Search engine optimization: 47%
  • Social media: 43%
  • Content: 38%
  • Paid search and PPC: 24%
  • Mobile and SMS: 9%
  • Ecommerce: 8%

When respondents were asked to identify the most difficult types of digital marketing to execute, the following results were recorded:

  • Social media: 49%
  • Content: 42%
  • Search engine optimization: 39%
  • Mobile and SMS: 34%
  • Paid search and PPC: 23%
  • Website and blogs: 23%
  • Ecommerce: 19%
  • Email: 11%

Notice that email was ranked as the most effective type of digital marketing by 54% of respondents, and it was only ranked as the most difficult form of digital marketing by 11% of respondents. That’s a gap of 43 percentage points! Similarly, 48% of respondents said websites and blogs were most effective while 23% said it was the most difficult to execute. That’s a 25 percentage point difference.

Next, notice that only 8% of respondents ranked ecommerce as the most effective form of digital marketing while 19% ranked it as the most difficult to execute. That’s a gap of 11 percentage points. There is an even bigger gap for mobile and SMS. While 9% believe it’s most effective, 34% believe it’s the most difficult to execute. That’s a 25 percentage point difference!

Marketers and business executives should be trying to close these gaps by finding the right talent and investing in both human capital and resource capital (e.g., technology). If the right talent is on hand and that talent has the right tools and resources to effectively execute the digital marketing initiatives that are perceived to be the most difficult (and therefore, the least effective), it is very likely that the results to surveys like this one will change significantly.

Marketing is only as effective as the people developing the strategy and implementing the plan. All the tools and tactics in the world are useless if no one knows why they’re using those tools and resources or how to effectively use them.

Image: Elementa1

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

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