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Top Digital Marketing Tactic for 2009: Social Media Marketing

Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009
Written by Lee Odden
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    digital marketing poll 2009With concerns over the recession and its impact on marketing, we decided to run a TopRank Reader Poll to discover reader (and their networks) preferences for digital marketing tactics in 2009.  Companies world-wide are cutting costs as well as looking for creative, high impact and accountable marketing.  Our amazing readers both on Online Marketing Blog and followers at @leeodden helped uncover the top tactics.

    Over the past 11 days 532 readers have cast 1559 votes for their 3 top digital marketing tactics for 2009 with Blogging, Twitter and Search Engine Optimization topping the list.  Equally interesting was that out of the top 10 tactics, 6 fall into the category of Social Media Marketing. See the full list below along with other statistics about where voters came from as well as info about the readership of Online Marketing Blog.

    The question we asked was, “What 3 digital marketing channels & tactics will you emphasize in 2009?”  Here are the top ten tactics selected:

    • Blogging (34%)
    • Microblogging (Twitter) (29%)
    • Search engine optimization (28%)
    • Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn) (26%)
    • Email marketing (17%)
    • Social media monitoring & outreach (17%)
    • Pay per click (14%)
    • Blogger relations (12%)
    • Video marketing (10%)
    • Social media advertising (7%)

    digital marketing poll cligs

    See results for the full poll of 45 different digital marketing tactics here.

    Other stats and observations about this poll:

    All 45 tactics received at least one vote, even “no holds barred spam”.   Email marketing rated higher than PPC which is surprising given the budgets spent on PPC vs email.  Some tactics are much easier to implement than others, or less expensive, which may explain a few of the top choices, such as Twitter.

    Corporate web sites don’t rate in the top ten tactics. Does this mean the death of company web sites? At least in their current form it does. Some companies are succumbing to the social media perspective to extremes, like the Skittles site which has been simplified to a page of search results from Twitter on the Skittles name. Others are adding social features to their company sites to compliment existing messaging and functionality. I suggest somewhere in the middle is where many companies will end up by 3rd or 4th quarter this year.

    For promotion on Twitter, we generated a unique URL through, which offers some handy statistics as well as URL shortening. See the image on the right for the traffic to the URL, promoted exclusively on Twitter and the countries that traffic came from.

    Overall, there were 36,144 visits to the Poll blog post over 11 days. Visitors came primarily from: United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and spent an average of 2 minutes and 27 seconds on the poll.

    The breakdown of traffic sources for the poll include (stats from Clicky):

    • Direct 13,010
    • Search 12,198
    • Links 5,335
    • Social Media 4,654
    • RSS Reader 652
    • Email 295
    • Ads 3

    The large number of visitors compared to the number of respondents resulted in about a 1% response rate. For a one question poll, that’s low and undoubtedly, the large number of options (45 digital marketing tactics) may have been overwhelming.

    Feedback on the poll ranged from (“3 tactics is not enough” to “There are way too many options to choose from” to suggestions for additional tactics including providing APIs and livestreaming content.

    By now, most companies (we hope) have their 2009 online marketing plans in place. Does this ranked order of tactics mean you should change up your online marketing mix? The answer is that digital marketing tactics should match the needs of the situation, company resources, the target market and end consumer preferences.  The proper tactical mix for an digital marketing program could be anything from the 45 tactics listed in the poll and still be successful as long as they support a valid strategy.

    Some companies are prepared for digital and social media marketing programs and many are not. To get “ready”, companies need to develop strategic plans and get up to speed on both best and worst practices.  This TopRank Reader Poll on Digital Marketing Tactics indicates a strong interest in social media marketing. Whether those methods of reaching and communicating with customers reconciles with existing marketing plans or not, companies would do well to allocate resources to some level of ongoing education, testing and development of expertise in the social media space.

    Were the results surprising to you? Right on? We’d love to read your feedback and discussion. While future versions of this poll will actually be a multi-question survey, we’d love to get your feedback on making it a better tool for you.