Report: Three in 10 A/NZ marketers are tapping artificial intelligence

Latest Salesforce State of Marketing report shows AI to personalise customer experiences and cope with additional data source is growing

Three in 10 A/NZ marketers are tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer experiences even as a third feel the pinch of balancing personalisation with privacy, a new report has found.

According to the latest annual Salesforce State of Marketing 2018 report, 86 per cent of the 300 Australian and New Zealand marketers surveyed see personalisation improving their overall marketing programs. Yet 32 per cent are feeling challenged to balance this personalisation with privacy, with many still citing technology, data and cross-functional challenges impacting delivery.

Just shy of half (48 per cent) of A/NZ marketers claim to now be engaging customers in real time in one or more marketing channels, against a global average of 52 per cent. At the same time, 42 per cent locally also reported going beyond regulations and industry standards to protect and respect customer privacy and rights.

This is even as less than half (46 per cent) in A/NZ reported having a completely unified view of customer data sources. The figure was almost on par with the global average (47 per cent), although data unification varies depending on the performance of marketing teams.

For the purposes of the global survey, Salesforce grouped marketers into three camps: High performers (15 per cent), moderate performers (69 per cent) and low performers (16 per cent).

Inhibiting this complete view of customers is arguably the number of data sources being used by marketers. In Australia, this has grown from 10 in 2017 to 12 this year and 15 going into 2019. Globally, there was also a definite split between the high and low performers, with high performers 7.3 times more likely to be completely satisfied with their ability to use data to create more relevant experience.

In addition, in Australia and New Zealand, nearly two-thirds of marketers are tapping second-party data, versus the global average of 69 per cent. The top five technologies being used to identify customers globally are a marketing database, CRM, email service provider, data management platform (DMP), and customer data platform (CDP).

Read more: Why second-party data is crucial to marketers

The role artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to play in the marketer’s CX and personalisation arsenal was a big report focus. What Salesforce found is marketing adoption of AI globally has grown at a rate of 44 per cent since 2017.

Globally, 29 per cent of marketers claim to be using some former of AI, up from 20 per cent on last year. In Australia, this figure was 27 per cent. In contrast, the take-up of AI in marketing in the US was just 21 per cent, while in the UK, the figure was higher (31 per cent).

Top use cases are personalising the overall customer journey (24 per cent), driving next-best offers in real time (24 per cent), automating customer interactions over social channels or messaging apps (23 per cent), personalising channel experiences (22 per cent) and leveraging online data to facilitate offline experiences. (22 per cent).

Top use cases marketers plan to use AI for in the next two years meanwhile are personalising channel experiences (60 per cent), improving customer segmentation and look-a-like audience modelling (59 per cent), personalising the overall customer journey (59 per cent), and programmatic advertising and media buying (58 per cent).

Other emerging technologies being harnessed by some marketers include Internet of Things connected devices (44 per cent), voice-activate personal assistants (32 per cent), and virtual reality/augmented reality (24 per cent).

For Salesforce regional vice-president of marketing automation, Kevin Doyle, the headline takeaways for A/NZ are that trust and AI are on the rise, and advertising and marketing are uniting for better customer experiences. Across the board, A/NZ was on par if not ahead in several areas compared to some other countries or the global average.

The exponential rise in data sets being used was another factor for the need for AI in A/NZ marketing, he said.

“You have all this crazy data coming in, and there’s no way you can use the data in the ways we used do, such as for manual segmentation building,” he told CMO. “You need artificial intelligence. Currently, ANZ marketers are using two main AI methods in order to market better: Personalising channel experiences, and programmatic advertising and media buying. That is expected to jump to six or seven different use cases in the next two years.

“That was surprising to me: The fast growth of AI and its use in marketing – it’s quickly rising.”

Marketing as the CX glue

What the Salesforce report also makes plain is marketing as the cross-functional glue of customer experience (CX). Forty-five per cent of global respondents said marketing was leading CX initiatives across the business, up from 24 per cent in 2017. This number increased to 54 per cent across high-performing marketing teams.

In A/NZ, the percentage of marketers leading CX initiatives was 46 per cent. Nearly half of local marketers share common goals and metrics with the commerce teams; 50 per cent claim the same with service teams, and 49 per cent report shared common goals and metrics with sales.

Service appeared particularly aligned. Across the global marketing pool, for example, 55 per cent of marketers are collaborating with the service teams to respond to inquiries and issues over social media, 54 per cent have a free and open flow of customer data between marketing and service teams, and 53 per cent share common goals and metrics. The report also found one in three on average suppress marketing communications when a customer has an open service case.

Marketing and commerce are also increasingly coming together, and the report cited more than half of global respondents syncing marketing and commerce systems for social media marketing (57 per cent), as well as marketing emails (51 per cent) and digital advertising (51 per cent). Yet data flow is still limited, with only 46 per cent claiming a free and open flow of customer data between marketing and commerce teams.

This was up slightly higher in the B2B sphere (51 per cent), and 52 per cent of global B2B marketers said they shared common goals and metrics with the sales team, reflecting a year-on-year growth rate of 87 per cent. More than half are also empowered to collaborate (54 per cent), up 86 per cent year-on-year, while 45 per cent are jointly executing account-based marketing (ABM) programs. Across the board, 52 per cent of marketers reported sharing metrics with their sales teams.

Broadly, the top five marketing priorities and challenges were synonymous. Engaging with customers in real time was both the top challenge and top opportunity. Other key priorities globally included optimising the marketing mix for the best return, modernising tools and technologies, creating a shared and single view of customer across business units and unifying customer data sources.

And these were also the hurdles. For example, adopting and effectively using new marketing technologies was the second-highest challenge, followed by budgetary constraints, creating a single view of customer and creating a cohesive customer journey across disparate channels and devices.  

As a result, there’s increased integration of marketing and advertising/media capabilities. Eighty-seven per cent reported marketing and advertising have integrated technology stacks, and 55 per cent claim marketing and advertising teams are collaborating when evaluating new technologies.

Doyle said advertising is no longer siloed in organisations away from the wider CX remit.

“One thing that’s particular to Australia and New Zealand was that 93 per cent of high-performing marketing teams have integrated marketing and technology stacks, versus the 69 per cent that are just moderately performing,” he added. “They’re bringing those technology silos together and getting better customer experiences from that as a result.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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