Report: Customer and innovation focus rule

Latest State of Marketing report factors in the effect of the pandemic and finds customer experience and embracing innovation keys to success

Rising customer expectations have pushed marketers into being engagers, beyond just messengers, fostering customer engagement well beyond the first purchase, according to the latest Salesforce State of Marketing report.

And in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, standards of customer engagement are shifting yet again, with marketers on the forefront of new trends. Salesforce regional VP, Kevin Doyle, told CMO Australia has seen a dramatic push towards better use of data, setting a stage for more empathetic marketing.

“Local marketers are telling us that personalised, trust-led engagement has never been more important, and that is something that requires deep insights,” he said.

Taking into account the global pandemic, the report, now in its sixth year, has singled out three headline trends across worldwide marketing: A relentless focus on the customer experience as marketers begin to look beyond the initial stages of the pandemic; unwavering commitment to earning customer trust and to retain that trust; and continuous pursuit of innovation and how it might reshape the local landscape.

Salesforce Research surveyed nearly 7000 marketing leaders worldwide to gauge changing definitions of marketing success, the shifts in engagement standards and privacy practices, evolving marketing skillsets and processes and unfolding data management strategies and tactics.

Marketing transformation takes on new urgency

The expectations and behaviours of consumers, businesses and society at large are shifting with unprecedented speed and magnitude, according to the Salesforce report. Marketers are under tremendous pressure to overhaul their organisational models and use of technology to provide differentiated, digital-first customer engagement.

The key takeaway on succeeding in transformation: Innovation is marketing leaders’ number-one priority.

Meanwhile, as customers navigate a series of ‘new normals’, personalised, empathetic engagement has never been more important, according to this year’s survey. Delivering messages and offers that resonate with an individual’s unique needs and expectations requires deep insights. 

Marketers are shifting how they source and manage customer data and ramping up use of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) that help them make the most of it. The survey reveals marketers report a 186 per cent increase in AI adoption since 2018.

Doubling down on business value

As businesses shift from crisis triage to recovery and adaptation, marketers have a unique opportunity to turn trusted customer relationships into business value, according to Salesforce. Its research shows marketers increasingly track metrics like customer satisfaction, digital engagement and lifetime customer value to gain a holistic picture of what’s working and what isn’t across the customer journey.

And when it comes to B2B marketers, they have a particularly strong role in business growth through account-based marketing (ABM), its research found. The main piece of intelligence on growing value to the business: 92 per cent of B2B marketers (which includes B2B2C) have an ABM program.

The report is based on a double-blind survey conducted from 8 January to 11 February 2020 that generated 6950 responses from full-time marketing leaders - those holding a manager or higher leadership role. Respondents include marketers from B2B, B2C, and B2B2C companies across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Finally, looking ahead after the pandemic crisis passes as businesses recover and confidence increases, Salesforce foresees a newfound appreciation for innovation. Doyle said, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, marketers are under tremendous pressure to overhaul organisational models and technology to provide differentiated, digital-first customer engagement.

“We’re going to be seeing a greater focus on innovation and the report data shows innovation will be the number-one priority moving forward,” he said.

In terms of the impact of technology, the report found Australian marketers expect the next 10 years to bring transformational changes from 5G wireless networks, augmented reality and virtual reality. However, nothing is anticipated more than the new customers and prospects brought online as digital life permeates the global population even more than now.

"Australian marketers will be reliant on more sophisticated technology that not only helps them better understand the customer, but also that improves their organisation’s emotional intelligence," Doyle added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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