This week IBM (news, site) released its annual State of Marketing report for 2011. The results suggest marketers have finally become more realistic about how to best engage their audiences with social media and the like. 

The report was presented at IBM's Marketing Summit in Boston, and covered nearly 300 online and direct marketers across a wide range of company sizes, industries and geographies. 

Key findings include: 

  • Ready to bridge the gap between analysis and action: This year, “measurement, analysis and learning” overtook last year's "IT support of marketing needs" as the top marketing bottleneck.
  • Technology can erase pain: Over half of the respondents cited technology as the key to productivity -- moreso than additional staff or agency support.
  • Demand for integrated marketing suites: 87% of marketers expressed interest in a suite that is better integrated.
  • We've got a long way to go with interactive marketing: Almost half of the survey participants reported only partially achieving their goals when it comes to truly integrated, cross-channel dialogs. Organizational structure and internal processes were sited as key barriers.
  • Web Data is important, but it's just lying around: A whopping 92% of marketers noted the value of Web data, but less than half apply that data to customer analyses and campaigns. Of those that do, less than a third believe their efforts are very effective.
  • Social Media love is dimming: While social media still remains the reigning champion among emerging marketing channels, the enthusiasm is burning less brighly than last year.
  • Mobile marketing is hot, hot, hot: Regardless of poor integration, 43% of respondents say they currently utilize mobile tactics, while another 23% are planning to do so within the year.

The results aren't too surprising, as the exaggerated expectations of social media seem to have reached their peak in recent times. It looks like we're approaching a period of becoming more practical about the abilities of both mobile and social marketing, as well as what those related efforts truly depend on.   

There is obviously no shortage of tools available for social media management, but now it's about figuring out what  is actually worth measuring, and what is considered success. (Related: Is There a Must-Use Metric to Measure Web Engagement?). For example, of clicks, retweets, likes and transactions, which matters most to your company? And what channel is the most efficient?

After all, the tools are only as good as the user. 

The most notable finding from the survey is simply the fact that marketers have checked their expectations and are ready to do away with ballyhoo in favor of a practical approach.  

If this strikes your fancy, you can check out the entire survey here