For most marketers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, brand building is top of mind this year, according to the “2014 State of Marketing: Nordics” report published by ExactTarget, based on an April 2014 survey of more than 400 marketers. Well over half (57%) said increasing and improving brand awareness was their leading priority this year. But getting to grips with data was also a key goal, cited by 52% of respondents. And more than one-third (37%) said they hoped to improve the measurement and results of their work in digital channels.
Fully 99% of marketers polled said they planned to maintain or raise their budgets for the year. The most popular areas for increased spending were social media marketing (mentioned by 71%), search engine marketing and optimization (65%), content management (63%), data and analytics (62%) and listening to consumers on social media (60%).
ExactTarget also surveyed over 4,000 consumers for its report to get another perspective on the ways advertisers in the Nordics communicated with their audiences. The main takeaway from that point of view was the continuing importance of email.
Some 83% of web users polled said they subscribed to company or brand emails—one reason why 63% of marketers agreed that email was a “critical enabler” of the products and services their firm provided. In addition, an average 47% of consumers across the Nordic countries said they started their digital day with email, rather than a news site, social media or any other online destination—and for 31% it was the last online activity of the day.
Email wasn’t always used to its full potential in the context of consumer lifecycles, though. While 46% of marketers said that it was a major challenge to build a strong relationship with new subscribers, many were not maximizing their chances to do that.
Newsletters were the lifecycle strategy most popular with these marketers (used by 69%), while 51% used post-purchase approaches, and 47% sent promotional messages. Yet there was a clear mismatch between the declared importance of lifecycle campaigns and the number carried out. For example, 42% of marketers said loyalty campaigns produced excellent or very good results—the highest reported success rate—but only 29% used them.
As the ExactTarget report suggests, email isn’t a major focus for marketers in the Nordics planning to spend more on digital tactics this year. Yet email remains a vital component of digital ad spending. According to eMarketer calculations based off of data from GroupM, for example, the format will rank third behind display and search in terms of digital ad investment in Denmark this year, attracting DKK254 million ($45.2 million)—a projected gain of 5.8% compared with 2013.