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Global marketers say social media will be even more important than the Web by 2020

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I recently posted about a landmark survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which well and truly puts to bed the idea that social media is merely a 'passing fad' and not worth marketers putting their efforts into.

The EIU report, 'The path to 2020: Marketers seize the customer experience,' questioned 499 CMOs and senior-level marketers from all over the world, gathering their thoughts on the trends and technologies that are most likely to impact the marketing industry over the next five years.

Of all the findings in the report, the one that really stood out for me was the fact that most of these experts predict that social media will be an even more important marketing channel than the Web by 2020!

When asked which three channels they thought customers would expect them to deliver marketing messages through in 2020, the majority (63%) of respondents placed social media right at the top of the ladder. This was followed by the web (53%), mobile apps (47%) the mobile web (46%) and email (36%).

Traditional channels didn't fare anything like as well in the survey, with direct mail, television and print garnering a respective 17%, 15% and 14% of respondents.

One of the main reasons for this shift, the report explains, is that over the past few years marketers have been improving their ability to understand how personalisation drives engagement and, as a result, sales. Between now and 2020, they will be further honing their personalisation efforts and gaining a deeper understanding of how context can help deliver timely, relevant content that will be of value to customers.

It is significant that the top three channels lend themselves to a high degree of personalisation, interaction and engagement, while more traditional marketing channels tend to be more focused on ‘push’ publishing.

As the report explains, while, up until now, data has been used to record what happens in the customer/brand relationship, social media - along with smartphones - is giving brands the power to actually "make things happen in that relationship." Having become an extension of ourselves and the way we communicate and interact with the world, these technologies continue to go from strength to strength. So businesses of all shapes and sizes - whether B2C or B2B - need to ensure they’re positioned for the new marketing reality.

Having an effective social media marketing strategy is no longer just a question of keeping up one step ahead of the corporate Joneses. With every passing year it’s becoming more and more integral to business success. And if the world’s top marketers are to be believed, by 2020 a business without a social media strategy will be every bit as anomalous as one without a web strategy today.