A new research study from SNCR says that spending on conversational marketing will outstrip traditional marketing by 2012. Commissioned by New Communications Review (SNCR, run by Jen McClure), and Joe Jaffe, the study shows some interesting figures and projections from 260 respondents (and I quote):

* 70% are currently spending 2.5% or less of their communications budgets on conversational marketing

* Two-thirds plan to increase their investment in conversation within the next twelve months

* 81% of marketers believe that in 5 years (ie. 2012) they’ll be spending as much or more on conversational marketing vs. traditional marketing

And, as one could expect, there will be challenges. The study cites the following foreseeable obstacles for investing in conversational marketing:

“Manpower restraints” – 51.1%

“Fear of loss of control” – 46.9%

“Inadequate metrics” – 45.4%

“Culture of their organizations” – 43.5%

“Difficulty with internal sell-through” – 35.8%

Naturally, the challenge will also be about getting the message right, into the right hands via the right tools. Presumably material that Joe will be covering in his about-to-be-released Join the Conversation!

At the same time, I believe that technology will be taking us to new unforeseen spaces namely in the mobile arena. Clearly, the short attention span and the limited text/visual zone offered by mobile technology are well suited to one another. And, the role of permission marketing will evolve dramatically as well such that the cost per subscriber or cost per consumer reached will ultimately even out. That is to say, there will be window of opportunity for the early movers. Then there will be a tipping point. And finally the cost of production and necessary resources to get the message out through the media noise will inevitably require greater investments to overcome the crowded media field and personalized filters.

Of course, the pace of conversion of traditional marketing dollars into conversational marketing will depend very much on the countries too — despite the global (if still monolingual) nature of the consumer on line. I have new term that I’d like to trademark: the MONLINEGUAL©.

Definition: a mashup (or portmanteau) of monolingual & online.

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