The mandate to produce ROI from digital marketing campaigns caused nightmares for some only two and a half years ago. Today marketers have sweet ROI dreams, at least according to the latest marketing report from Salesforce

In its just released 2016 State of Marketing Report, the San Francisco-based CRM giant reports that most marketers are happily squeezing ROI from digital marketing campaigns.

ROI Everywhere

Salesforce surveyed 4,000 marketers in various roles and regions. Most hailed from North America (43 percent) and Europe (30 percent). The split between size of company was fairly even: 101 to 3,500 employees (44 percent), 1 to 100 employees (39 percent) and 3,501-plus employees (17 percent).

Where is it raining ROI for them? Everywhere, pretty much.

Marketers reported ROI in:

  1. Social media marketing: Social’s driving "massive ROI for marketers," as Salesforce officials put it: 75 percent of marketers reported social is generating ROI, a 166 percent increase from last year's Salesforce marketing report. Marketers rate Facebook as the most effective social channel, followed by Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram. 
  2. Email marketing: The survey found 79 percent of marketers said email generates ROI, a 48 percent increase from last year. Eight out of 10 marketers that deploy email marketing, meanwhile, said email is core to their business. And nearly half (49 percent) of them said it is directly linked to their business' primary revenue source, a 140 percent year-over-year increase.
  3. Mobile marketing: 77 percent of marketers who use mobile as part of their marketing strategy said mobile actively generates ROI, a 147 percent increase. Location-based mobile tracking (149 percent increase), mobile push notifications (145 percent increase), mobile text messaging (111 percent increase) and mobile applications (98 percent increase) have all been deployed by marketers more frequently this year.

Carla Johnson, a content marketing and customer experience consultant with Type A Communications in Parker, Colo., backed the strong returns in social. Johnson, who co-authored with Robert Rose "Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing," told CMSWire she sees "strong returns with social for companies who use it strategically and integrate it closely with other efforts to deliver a consistent story and experience."

A Wave of Optimism?

The optimistic assessment from Salesforce counterbalances some of the continuing complaints from digital marketers.

We've seen success stories with personalization technologies tempered by the struggle to corral such massive amounts of data. We've heard about the importance of intelligent content marketing but also tales of content marketing struggles. Marketers have been excited about artificial intelligence technologies and then something like this happens.

Salesforce officials, however, are confident that marketers are getting it — and making money for their organizations.

"The rise of the connected customer is forcing marketing to evolve from delivering outbound campaigns to managing personalized experiences that engage the customer from day one and guide them through a seamless journey with the brand," Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud at Salesforce, said in a statement. "The results of our research show that high-performing marketers that change their mindsets, tactics and technology to embrace a customer journey strategy will reap the benefits."

Marketers must also consider customer support functions, selling functions and community building — every touchpoint, McCorkle said. 

"In short, it’s the complete customer experience," he said in the report. 

Show Me the Money

While marketers are producing ROI, they're also going to have to invest in new marketing technology. We all know there are plenty of MarTech tools to go around.

Nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed (65 percent) are increasing budgets for advertising on social platforms in 2016. That's No. 3 behind social media marketing and social media engagement for increased investment in the Salesforce report.

According to this year's report, 72 percent of top marketing teams will increase spending on marketing tools and tech in the next two years. Fifty-three percent of "high performers" qualify as heavy tech adopters, compared to only 7 percent of "underperformers." Top teams are more likely to extensively use marketing analytics and predictive intelligence, among other tools.

According to the Salesforce officials, 97 percent of marketing leaders plan to either further increase or maintain their level of spending on digital marketing in the next two years. Ultimately, from 2011 to 2021, the industry will see 21 percent growth in digital marketing spending.