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Digital marketing truths - sector by sector

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan July 29, 2013
A follow-up data dump from the Economist Intelligence Unit that takes a look at how industry sectors vary in their sophistication of approach when it comes to digital marketing.

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So here at diginomica we've been pretty big fans of the study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and technology firm Lyris into the gaps in digital marketing strategies practised by most organisations.

You may recall that one of the primary conclusions was that too many 'bleeding edge' CMOs are so busily in hot pursuit of the social media outreach strategies that they neglect the tried and tested (and desired by customers) delivery channel of email.

That chimes perfectly with a lot of our own thinking at diginomica - see Dennis Howlett 's musings and Phil Wainewright's thoughts on the ongoing importance and relevance of email in digital marketing.

So I was interested in a follow-up data dump from the EIU* that takes a look at how industry sectors vary in their sophistication of approach. According to its data, this is how it breaks down:


  • For initial purchasing decision for travelers, email ranks the highest channel of influence (37%).
  • Cultivating influencers is a leading marketing objective (20%), likely due to personal referrals among travelers, which has the largest influence at final assessment (31%).
  • Strategies have shifted from disseminating messages across multiple touch points (reduced from 32.5% to 15%) toward conducting deep analysis of consumer data (from 17.5% to 30%); 87% deem data analysis very important or moderately important.
  • Marketing executives cite repeat purchases and value of the transaction as moderately or very important (85%). Not surprising, given 77% of consumers seek travel price comparisons.

Verdict: Travel comparison sites are now an integral part of any selection and procurement process for many people, myself included. It's a sector in which personal recommendation powered by digital channels is immensely powerful. Equally though I appreciate having special offers and good deals flagged up to me, even if I'm not immediately planning a vacation or excursion.

Clothing Retailers

  • 66% of consumers say that many personalised messages are annoying because “attempts at personalisation are superficial.”
  • 71% of consumers said they receive so many messages that use of their name no longer makes a difference. However, when they receive a message that includes details of previous transactions or other personal details, 25% say they take it more seriously.
  • 75% of consumers seek information about pricing/promotions through branded digital channels over third party sites; not surprising, considering the clothing retail market is very price driven.
  • Expanding/diversifying the customer base has grown in priority to 33% compared to 24% five years ago.

Verdict: in a recent blog posting I cited the example of being offered a lace sun dress by a clothing retailer and questioning whether it would really suit a 6ft man. I rest my case.


  • As banks try to regain trust, customer retention is now cited as the top marketing goal (42%), a significant jump from 23% five years ago (and much higher than the all industry average of 28%).
  • 6% of consumers prefer to engage with banking brands using mobile apps, which is double the all-industry average, yet investment is less than in other industries.
  • Banking lags behind other industries in moving beyond personalisation to individualised offers, with difficulty interpreting Big Data cited as the biggest obstacle (44%).

Verdict: They're banks - we don't expect them to deliver good service. We expect them to make life as difficult as possible for us and charge us for the privilege. The only individuality I've ever come across from a bank has been in the form of threatening letters from bank managers. Try to get banks to think 'individually' and 'outside the box' when it comes to almost any other matter and you'll find your blood pressure on the rise.


  • Automotive is the most advanced industry in integrating different sources of data and in predictive analytics.
  • Among automotive executives there is an increased emphasis on individualised offers (up from 13% five years ago to 50% today - 10% higher than all-industry average which is 40%), most likely as a result of the high value of the purchase.
  • Social media/blogs rank second highest after websites and personal referrals for purchase influence; automotive is also the most invested in branded social media, with 45% of respondents citing a 25% investment of their budget.

Verdict: Boys and their toys?


  • Online channels are seen as the most important, yet surprisingly executives are investing very little in branded social media pages (56% invest only 1-10% of their budgets) and similarly for mobile (66% invest only 1-10% of their marketing budgets).
  • Marketing executives in entertainment have increased their focus on retaining customers and investing more in deep analysis of consumer data (from 20% five years ago to 27% today)
  • Subsequently, marketers are also presenting more individualised offers (cited by 46% of executives, up from 26% five years ago).

Verdict: Interesting one as the entertainment market is so enormously competitive, leading to the increased emphasis on hanging on to your existing customers. But are entertainment firms spending too much time crunching the numbers and not enough feeling the mood of the crowd? What would PT Barnum have done?


  • 45% list the ability to use data analysis to extract predictive findings as a key marketing skill. However, the importance of conducting deep analysis of consumer data has fallen by 7% over the last five years.
  • Email (28%) is the second preferred method for consumers to engage with brands in the media industry, subsequently, 12% of marketing executives spend 76-100% of their budgets on email.
  • 74% of media marketing executives say online channels have gained importance for building brand awareness, which could explain why disseminating messages across multiple touch points is their most important marketing strategy (38% today, compared to 21% five years ago).

Verdict: Media firms are the bane of my life. I'm signed up to Netflix. So why does Netflix keep sending me emails offering me a free trial? We can't get Sky television in our neck of the woods, so why do you keep sending me special sign-up offers? Ditto, Virgin Media. And when I ask you all to remove me from your mailing lists, why won't you do it?


*The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conducted two surveys about the effectiveness of marketing channels in March 2013, one of 409 consumers and another of 257 marketing executives. The respondents were balanced evenly between the US and the UK and included roughly equal numbers of executives from six key consumer products industries: clothing, banking, travel, media, entertainment and automotive. All consumers had used digital channels to research products and purchases from each of these industries.

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