The metrics by which B.C. marketers measure social ROI.

The metrics by which B.C. marketers measure social ROI.
The metrics by which B.C. marketers measure social ROI.

The B.C. Association of Integrated Marketers reveals where the ad bucks are going. That social media has never been hotter is no surprise, but it appears that the mobile age has not yet arrived for B.C. marketing budgets

It would have been easy for those in attendance at yesterday's B.C. Association of Integrated Marketers (BCAIM) to write off traditional marketing—that being newspapers, TV and radio. Online marketing, and specifically social media, led almost every category in the first-ever pulse of marketing in the province called "The State of Marketing in B.C."

Those in attendance, as well as the vast majority of survey participants were on the client side (43% of all respondents) or a part of a small or mid-sized marketing agency (24% of respondents). Their feedback—gathered in late December and early January—painted B.C. marketers as digital-first proponents who get their marketing info from social networks LinkedIn (and astonishing 80 per cent), followed by Twitter (67 per cent). BCBusiness (whoot!) was third and tied with BCAIM at 56%.
Respondents identified online social media (58 per cent), SEO (53 per cent) and direct marketing and PR (tied at 46%) as their most important marketing media.

Online display—once the gold standard of online advertising—came in at only 32 per cent, still well above print at 23 per cent, TV at 15 per cent and out-of-home and radio, tied at 11 per cent. Perhaps most surprising was the low penetration of mobile apps (at 23 per cent and tied with print), despite years of declaration that its time has come.
"The results show that marketers in this province are comfortable using a proliferation of media channels all at once," said Michael Rodenburgh, VP, Ipsos ASI for Western Canada, the study's author and presenter. "It's tempting to says that traditional marketing has been all but abandoned, but social doesn't give the reach of traditional marketing," he warned. "Social is deep but narrow."

When asked the importance of marketing disciplines in total marketing spend at their organizations, respondents identified customer experience (75 per cent) and product and service strategy (61 per cent) as most vital. Brand strategy and new product/service innovation was tied at third (59 per cent) followed by content strategy, the "stuff" that fuels effective social media marketing. In what was a survey-wide trend, data analytics was on the bottom half of importance.

"What's clear," Rodenburgh told the crowd, "is that marketers in this province are embracing social media, but are not holding it to any hard metrics or sales numbers. It's more of a soft awareness." The bottom three areas of importance in total marketing spend were events and/or sponsorships, corporate social responsibility marketing, and traditional creative. In terms of the all-important all-important social media ROI, respondents cited Facebook likes, Twitter followers, tweets and retweets, followed by shares as benchmarks for success.

Three brands that B.C. marketers most admired were Telus, Coast Capital Savings and Lululemon in that order. Telus, respondents said, has "clear, focused, memorable advertising," "a community focus," and "consistent brand style and audience engagement." Coast Capital's ads "focus on local," "are clever and integrated," and "impactful." Lululemon was lauded for its "good blend of traditional, digital and experiential," for being "innovative and personal" as well as the ability to "take risks and really relate to their clientele."

After the presentation, the survey insights were analyzed by a panel on which Rodenburgh was joined by accomplished marketers Greg Waring, VP Marketing at Kal Tire and Heidi Worthington, SVP and CMO at BCAA. The panel was moderated by Eustress Marketing Coaching founder Richard Sandor. When asked about what was the most surprising about the survey results, Waring said B.C. marketers don't particularly care about the threat from U.S. e-commerce giants like Amazon, or, for that matter, cross-border shopping. "I'm not sure why this isn't on the radar. But I think that e-commerce in Canada is five to 10 years behind where it is in the U.S." He should know, having worked for McDonald's in Chicago and launching a pizza chain in Seattle. He was referring to a survey result that asked about biggest concerns marketers have about the current marketing landscape. Survey respondents cited cutting through the clutter of media messages to be heard as a top concern.

The BCAA's Worthington lauded B.C. marketers for their innovation and creativity, often as a result of limited budgets. "We don't have the money of a U.S. or even Toronto, so some of the most daring stuff I see anywhere comes out of smaller countries and markets like B.C."

Are you a marketer in B.C.? Tell us where you're spending your marketing money and what's working for you in the comments below.