State of Marketing 2020: Key Takeaways

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State of Marketing 2020: Key Takeaways

Posted by Seethu Maria Mathew

In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, marketers are witnessing an overhaul in their entire thought-process as they realize things may never be the same again.

The 6th edition of State of Marketing is Salesforce’s longest research report so far, with an extensive number of country profiles across 30 countries, use cases and so much more. The report which was released on May 19, 2020, is based on a survey conducted by Salesforce Research among 7000 marketing leaders across 30 countries to explore: 

  • Changing definitions of marketing success
  • Shifts in engagement standards and privacy practices
  • Evolving marketing skill sets and processes
  • Unfolding data management strategies and tactics.

The intention of publishing this report according to the Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi is to understand the critical factors that marketers and businesses have to take into consideration as they slowly begin to recover from the current crises. 

“Where do we go from here?” – for marketers, this is a multifaceted question. As ambassadors to the public, we must ask ourselves how best to reposition our brands. As a line of communication to customers, we must ask ourselves how we can be more empathic and understanding. As partners to the business, we must ask ourselves how best to collaborate with our colleagues in sales, customer service, and beyond as we seek a return to growth,” said Stephanie.

Before getting into the takeaways, do bear in mind that the survey was conducted on January 8 through February 11, 2020, before the pandemic hit the entire marketing landscape. However, Salesforce assessed that many of the findings will remain relevant even after the COVID crisis emerged. 

Here are some key insights we dissected from the report.

Marketing innovation and customer experience will drive the next decade

Marketers are under huge pressure to innovate due to rising customer expectations. 80% of high performers lead customer experience initiatives across their organizations, compared to 68% of under-performers.

84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services — up from 80% in 2018 

However, many marketers still struggle to create real time engagement. Unifying and operationalizing customer data to create the cohesive journeys that customers want is particularly daunting.  There is also a disconnect between marketing and IT departments which contributes the most towards customer engagement success.

Fact is, these challenges existed even before the pandemic. Hence marketers need to figure out innovative methods to reignite  real time customer engagement.

Marketing transformation takes on new urgency

  • Marketers are now particularly keen to understand customer’s complete journey and are deeply involved in every stage starting from brand building through advocacy to creating cohesive experiences. No marketer preferred to be detached from any of these stages. 

69% of marketers say traditional marketing roles limit customer engagement— up from 37% in 2018. 

  • According to Salesforce’s third State of the Connected Customer report, 71% of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction. They have specific demands wherein they expect content which is related to the ones they viewed on the previous channel. So marketers are now encouraging  cross functional collaboration through strategic initiatives like account-based marketing (ABM) programs.

Sixty-nine percent of customers expect connected experiences 

  • There is an increased adoption of AI, social tools, and analytics among marketers. But in order for this to be a success, it requires strong collaboration with IT. 72% of marketers say they are aligned with their IT organizations, yet IT leaders rank insufficient business unit alignment as a top challenge.

Empathetic marketing + AI: The killer combo to amp up customer experience

Marketers are now focussed on empathetic marketing as they realize how customer needs have evolved during these years. 78% of them describe their customer engagement as data-driven. Moving forward, marketers will make use of various data sources to keep track of customer requirements. The most ranked customer data sources are transactional data, declared interests and known digital identities.

Also, one important thing to be noted here is how the median number of data sources has increased over the period of 2019 -2020. While it was 8 in 2019, this year it’s 10.  

But the question here is, is data just enough? Are all marketers able to derive actionable data? From this report, what we understand is that only the high performing marketers  are completely satisfied with their customer data. 

Privacy is also a concern among marketers and they are trying to exceed regulations like GDPR. Infact, 58% of customers are comfortable with 28% with their data being used transparently, but only 63% say companies are generally transparent about how their data is used.

The average enterprise has 900 different applications, an average of only 28% of which are integrated. 

Marketers regard AI as the perfect technology to source and manage customer data in this scenario. It not only derives solid data insights, but also helps them in achieving personalization across multiple channels. 

While it was earlier an ethereal concept adored among the nerds, AI now is a reality among every business sector. 84% of marketers report using AI, which is up from 29% in 2018. Now that’s a whooping 186% increase in adoption in just two years!

Marketers are tracking new KPIs

Although businesses are currently navigating through a catch 22 scenario, marketers find this as the perfect opportunity to convert their trusted customer relationships into business value. They have started to track metrics like customer satisfaction, digital engagement, referral rates and CLTV to uncover a big picture of what’s working and what’s going wrong across the customer journey. 

62% of marketers track customer satisfaction (CSAT, NPS) 

That said, measuring CLTV is still not widely practised by marketers. Is there progress? Yes! But it  has a long way to go still. 

According to the report, the most valuable metrics for the brand building stage during 2018-2020 has been customer satisfaction. Marketers are less concerned with generating leads here. Whereas in the case of customer acquisition and lead generation, customer acquisition cost analysis is considered as the most important criteria. 

When it comes to digital channels, websites and traffic drivers such as emails play a key role in each stage whether it is brand building, lead generation, customer acquisition or upselling. Customer community is also very much valued among customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy stages. 

But one important thing that really caught our attention is how influencers, although relative newbies in town, have moved higher up in the ladder of five most valuable channels for all stages. Now that’s really an eye-opener for marketers around the globe!

ABM will become a critical strategy for B2B organizations.

The pressure on intensifying customer empathy and personalized engagement is nail-bitingly higher than ever before. With skyrocketing customer expectations and neck-to-neck competition rising among companies, ABM programs become increasingly necessary in the B2B marketing space. In fact, 89 % of B2B marketers have an ABM program. 

Eighty-two percent of high performers say B2B and B2C marketing tactics are converging, versus 67% of underperformers 

Although a relatively new process, with 64% of them started within the past 5 years, it is more evolved and more sophisticated now. Sixty-eight percent of ABM programs use automation.

Future of Marketing is powered by emerging technologies.

The Covid-19 crisis may have changed our entire perception of going through uncertain times, and no one can really predict the future of marketing at this point. But this has definitely forced businesses to  redefine customer engagement with innovative technologies. 

76% of high performers say they do a great job at innovating marketing technology, tactics, and strategies, versus 47% of under-performers. 

According to marketers, technology, legislation, and societal shifts will make a huge impact in the state of marketing. 5G is predicted to be a game changer in the next 10 years. Equally important are the new customers being  brought online now through various digital channels. 

Country Profile – India

300 marketing professionals from India took part in the Survey to bring out valuable insights regarding the state of the marketing. 

Marketer’s revealed their top priorities as innovation, real time customer engagement and improved marketing ROI/attribution. Their top success metrics included marketing leads, social analytics,  and sales effectiveness.

91% of marketers share common goals with sales teams. 

“The COVID-19 crisis is forcing marketers in India to rethink every aspect of their business – from strategic priorities and challenges, to the technological and team skills they will need — as they navigate getting back to work during a global crisis, and then continuing to transform the customer experience to be best positioned for success in the years ahead,” said Sunil Jose, SVP, Salesforce India. “The insights in this year’s State of Marketing report are a helpful guide for marketers as they journey to recover and transform their business.”

Here’s an overview  from the report: 

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Industry Profiles

It’s interesting to see how almost all marketers across all industries such as Automotive, Communications, Retail, Consumer goods etc agreed on innovation as their number one priority in the coming decade. However marketers from the energy industry cited modernizing tools and technologies as their top priority and marketers from the Government sector  highlighted complying with privacy regulations and hiring/development of talent as their primary goals. 

The 6th State of Marketing report drives in the point that the current state of marketing is continuously evolving, but is also opening up opportunities for those willing to go for it. Take a look at the full report here