Every year, Target Marketing releases its Market Mix Trends report showing where companies are putting their marketing dollars and which channels are up and which are down. This year, TM released its annual look at marketing spend, but it also analyzed trends over the span of reports: 2010-2016. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Direct mail is remaining stable. Okay, direct mail is not growing, but it’s holding firm, with very few marketers decreasing their spend over the six-year period. In a media environment in which shoppers are consuming digital media all the time, that’s pretty remarkable. In this year’s survey, TM found that 69% of respondents either increased or maintained their direct mail spend in 2016. Only 6% decreased it, the lowest finding in half a decade.
  2. Freestanding inserts are on the decline. Even as direct mail remains stable, inserts are on the decline. According to TM, 62% of those surveyed said they don’t use inserts at all — “the highest level in half a decade, and well above the mid-50s level usually seen.” Eleven percent of respondents increased their spending on inserts, but this is also the lowest level in the history of the surveys.
  3. Email and search are giving way to social media and content marketing. Marketing is moving from a push environment to a pull environment. Not only are consumers more proactive about searching out products and services online, but they place high value on peer-to-peer suggestions, comments, and reviews. This means growth in social media.

Despite email’s competition from social media, nearly half of respondents did increase their spend on email marketing. However, this is down from previous years, when more than 60% increased it.  The same goes for search. Forty-one percent of respondents increased their spending on search marketing in 2016, but this is down from 46% and 49% in prior years.

More than 80% of respondents either increased their spending on social media engagement or kept it the same. This is in line with the results from the past five years.  More than half (52%) of respondents increased their use of content marketing, with 28% holding steady.

  1. Mobile spend is the new normal. The overall trend line for increased spend on mobile is up, while the percentage of respondents not offering mobile marketing is down. In 2016 specifically, 67% of respondents indicated doing some sort of mobile marketing, with 38% increasing their expenditure. This investment is coming in a variety of forms, largely mobile-optimized websites and mobile video. Text message marketing kept a low profile, however, with nominal percentages offering or increasing their budgets for it.
  2. Big jump in online advertising. More than half of respondents are using some form of online advertising (from about one-third to more than half), and those not using this channel dropped from one in five to one in 10. Online advertising is hot. Can anyone say “retargeting”?
  3. Personalization is up, but online. Seventy percent of respondents are using “personalization” and more than 50% are increasing their investment in it. However, this is online personalization. More than 70% of respondents did not use variable-data printing/print personalization in 2016, and only 11% increased their budgets for it. This means that the market for data-driven printing is only going to get more competitive. Interestingly, just less than half of respondents used personalized URLs and about 15% increased their use of them. In light of the lower numbers for VDP, this suggests that either a significant portion of personalized URLs are being done via email/QR Codes or marketers see this as a category separate from VDP.

Do these results match what you are seeing in your shop? Please share your observations.