Blog On your marks marketers. What are the next big hurdles for marketing?

A recap of Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report

Salesforce recently published the 5th edition of a report titled “State of Marketing.” To create this report, the Salesforce research team surveyed 4,100 marketers from around the world. The goal was to gain deeper insight into how marketing teams today are functioning and what new trends in work are.

We are here to tell you the highlights of this paper and share some of our thoughts at the end. Ready? Lets go.

The four main trends identified were:

  1. “Marketing Becomes the Cross-Functional Glue of Customer Experiences”
  2. “New Realities Up the Ante for Data Unification”
  3. “AI and Trust Underpin Customer Experiences”
  4. “Marketers Strive for Real Time Engagement Across Channels”

Before I break each of those trends down, let’s look at the main theme the report set forward. The survey found that experiences now are the heart of marketing. This does not just mean events. It also means experiences on your website, experiences while interacting with your team, any type of interaction a potential customer has with you is an experience for them. The best way to improve these experiences? Customization. Moving forward, we always have to have an idea of who we are interacting with and a best guess on what their needs are.

This will prove to be both a priority and a challenge for marketing teams. We will need ungraded tech and unified data in order to perform at the level expected. The other player here is speed. How can we figure out the information we need about a customer quickly enough to keep their attention? I don’t have the answer (yet), but this will be the next big hurdle for marketers.

Marketing as the cross-functional glue

Marketers have a unique position within a business. They have unique knowledge about customer behaviors. As such, marketers are leading initiatives across entire companies regarding customer experience initiatives. According to the report nearly 45% of marketing teams are participating in these initiatives, up from 24% in 2017.

Cross functional work can be a challenge, but the answer here is to have completely integrated workflows and goals between teams. Teams must complement and support each other rather than focusing on only their own specific channels. Cohesion is the key to creating enticing customer journeys for customers. 

For a long time the name of the game has been breaking down silos between teams, this is just a new form of that. According to the report, “only 46% of marketers claim a free and open flow of customer data between marketing and commerce teams.” To accomplish the goal of team integration, there needs to be advances in technology as well as a more open data flow between teams.

Finally, marketing and customer service teams need to be recognized as two sides of the same coin rather than the opposite sides of the sales funnel. These teams are actually quite similar, nearly 50% of customer service and marketing teams share goals. Increased socialization and communication between these teams can only lead to increased success for the company and satisfaction for the customer.

The Dawn of Data Unification

Why do we have all this data? Why do we spend so much time and money to collect it and analyze it? Our data should be used to get to know our customers and potential customers better. We have enough data, both volume and types, to build robust profiles of our customers. We can understand who they are, what they want and how to talk to them. All of that information is already buried in our data. We just have to piece it together. The hurdle is, to build these profiles we need to unify all of our data sources. 

The average marketing department has 3 different technologies that they pull from consistently. Each of these technologies holds puzzle pieces that fit together to create a great (and complete) customer profile. How to efficiently combine all these sources is another hurdle. For now it will rely on dedicated individuals and communication between roles and teams.

Experience AI and Trust

The name of the game for this section is personalization and scale. People are apprehensive about giving away their information, especially to an AI system. However, customers are more willing to trade their personal information if it will be used for increased personalization in their experience. Additionally, customers are much more trusting if there is transparency regarding why their information is being recorded. Basic human psychology says that the unknown is scary, so breaking down data policies for customers allows them to trust you and develop a level of comfort with your brand.

Personalization can lead to meeting goals all the way down the pipeline, from meetings to acquisition to retention. “82% of marketing leaders credit personalization with a major or moderate boost in customer advocacy, and 92% say the same for its impact on brand building.” While data proves personalization is the way to go, it is now a much harder game to play. The nature of personalization has changed, adding their name to an email is no longer enough, customers are now expecting companies to anticipate their needs. This typically takes the form of personalized offers and deals based on how the customer shops and uses the web. 29% of marketers use AI (up from 20% in 2017) to create these personalized offers.

Real Engagement in Real Time

Engaging in real time is also becoming a top priority and a top problem for marketers. Real time benchmarking is hard to do but is a base necessity now that customers demand real time interaction. Two way engagement is now the way forward. This means you affect your audience and your audience affects you. You must be able to evaluate their responses to you in real time and adjust strategy accordingly.

Customer communities are also becoming more and more important for marketers. How, where and with what language to engage your potential customers are more complex questions than ever. Channel choices are getting harder to make because the number of choices is ever expanding and so are customer preferences. Trends in the report show that company apps and videos are two of the most popular places to engage an audience today. As the channels multiply, truly connecting with your audience is getting harder and harder. Only 28% of marketers are happy with their engagement levels.

Based on the trends in the State of Marketing report, the way forward for marketers is going to a choppy one. Marketers will have to place even MORE focus on their customers and their larger audience. Scrappiness, communication and listening skills will be among some of the most important skills for marketers moving forward.

Read the report here.

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