Customer experience is currently the top priority in marketing departments. The latest technologies, including artificial intelligence, are harnessed to build customer satisfaction. The customer journey is also created by strengthening cooperation between the marketing, sales and customer service departments.

In 2017, Salesforce published its fourth annual report on marketing trends. "2017 State of Marketing" is based on a survey of 3,500 full-time employees in senior marketing positions in the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Australia/New Zealand (respondents included not only Salesforce customers).

As before, the survey was conducted in three segments:

  • high performers - companies with the best business results (they constitute 12% of the total number of respondents);
  • moderate performers - companies with average results in their industry (76% of respondents);
  • Underperformers - a group with below average results (12% of all respondents).

Compared to the survey a year ago, the group of moderate performers increased by 8% (previously 68%), high performers (previously 18%) and underperformers (14%) decreased.

The 2017 survey confirmed that the client's experience is still a key objective of marketing activities.

  • 68% of marketing leaders believe that their company competes effectively in the market by using customer experience data;
  • 64% of marketing departments over the past 18 months have focused on ensuring a consistent customer experience across all channels of contact, as customer loyalty is dependent on individualised experiences. This applies to both individual consumers and business buyers;
  • 52% of customers change brand if the company does not make efforts to personalize communication with them;
  • 89% of business buyers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations based on their contact history;
  • 65% of B2B customers will resign from working with their suppliers if they do not meet their personalisation needs.

Main conclusions from the report:

AI is causing a revolution in marketing

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that will be increasingly used in marketing in the next two years. The use of AI will increase by more than 50% during this time, helping marketing departments to create highly targeted campaigns and intelligent personalization. 57% of marketing managers using AI claim that it is an irreplaceable tool in creating 1:1 marketing.

Technologies are becoming increasingly important

Over the next two years, marketing departments expect an unprecedented increase in the use of marketing technologies: from AI and Things Internet to scoring tools. Data management platforms are also becoming one of the most important tools.

Effective marketing

Marketing activities within the organization are changing

With more and more customer data available, marketing departments need to rethink their way of operating within the organization and work more closely with sales and customer service.

The "Customer journey" is at the centre of attention of marketing departments, which continue to fight for a uniform view of the customer based on data obtained from different sources.

On the one hand, the problem in obtaining a unified view of the customer is related to increased customer expectations and an increase in the number of new contact channels, on the other hand, the provision of relevant data, which is associated with the difficulty in breaking down information silos between sales, customer service and marketing.

Technology is dictating more and more changes

The digital transformation is reshaping marketing activities. New technologies not only make work easier, but also change marketing strategies and cause organizational reshaping. A new trend is to work closely with sales and service departments and to create new positions that reflect the change in the roles of marketing staff in putting the customer centre stage, such as "customer experience analyst".

In last year's report "2016 State of Marketing", there was no mention of the use of artificial intelligence (AI), although 51% of respondents today declare it. Another novelty is the increasing use of data management platforms such as DSM and CIAM. Marketing departments combine their activities with sales and services - what year ago was not shown as a significant trend. Further changes that have taken place over the course of one year include: the growing role of personalisation of contacts with B2B customers and the participation of marketing in building the company's image as socially responsible.

Artificial intelligence in the service of marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important in every industry today and marketing is no exception. Over the next two years, the development of this technology will accelerate and its use in marketing will increase by 53%. Approximately half (51%) of marketing managers are already using AI today, and a quarter are planning to use it in the coming years. It is no surprise that high performers (72%) are leading the way here.

AI will have a significant impact on improving efficiency and advanced personalisation. As many as 64% of respondents, who already use AI in their actions, say that it has significantly increased the overall marketing effectiveness. AI helps to better understand customer behavior so you can generate the right message and find the best channel to deliver it. 61% of respondents even talk about "hyper personalization", which will help to create a 1:1 type of marketing significantly.

57% of marketing managers believe that AI will have a significant impact on the customer through automatic social interaction using chatbots and intelligent interfaces. Another 58% expect the same impact on marketing from the Internet Things. Already 66% of marketing departments use the capabilities of combined IoT devices and 23% plan to use them in the next 2 years.

Although AI so dynamically enters the area of marketing, unfortunately only 23% of the respondents defined an appropriate AI strategy. Obstacles to their implementation vary depending on the level of maturity of a given organization. The challenge for high performers is to protect customer data and store data in separate systems. The group of underperformers lacks both budgets for activities related to the implementation of AI solutions and appropriate skills.

Tech Marketing on a Wave

Marketing invests heavily in new technologies (mainly AI, IoT and DMP) to leave its competitors behind. On average, high performers use between 15 and 17 different technological tools, compared to 8 for underperformers. The best-performing companies also implement data management platforms 4.3 times more often than underperformers: data management platforms (DMP) and 4 times more often CIAM (Customer Identity Management and Access Management). Two solutions are crucial for the whole surveyed group: CRM tools and data analysis.

The industry's goal is to achieve 1:1 marketing, which has been defined as a strategy of personalised interaction with customers to increase loyalty and return on marketing investments. Marketing leaders claim that one of the most important tools to achieve 1:1 is DMP, defined as a centralized system for collecting, integrating and managing data from different sources.

Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility

Customers increasingly often assess a company on the basis of its social behaviour. Recent research has shown that 60% of customers will change their brand if they consider that the company is not socially responsible. The survey also shows that 80% of marketing executives believe that companies have a duty to focus not only on profits, but to influence society. This change is due to the fact that more and more people are talking about goal-based marketing - defined in the survey as the higher goals and beliefs of the organization represented by companies. Marketing as the voice of the company has a unique opportunity to perpetuate this message.

Transferring priorities to an organisational challenge

Providing an individualized customer experience throughout the customer journey goes beyond marketing and includes sales, customer service and other departments. As many as 64% of marketing managers believe that a customer journey strategy requires organizational change and is working to redefine the rules of cooperation with sales and customer service teams.

The best marketing departments appreciate two-way communication. Hihg performers 2.2 times more often admit that marketing constantly supports sales with qualitative leads and 2.1 times more often they regularly receive key information from sales.

The new challenges are causing the traditional marketing structure to break down. Over the past 12-18 months, 61% of marketing executives have focused on evolving from the current structure to the creation of customer journey roles, resulting in a number of new positions ranging from "customer experience analyst" to "customer lifecycle manager".

Marketing b2b

Personalisation of demanding B2B customers - an important goal of marketing

Over the past 18 months it has become increasingly important to improve the segmentation of B2B customers.

Business buyers have even higher expectations of personalisation than ordinary consumers. In the B2B marketing scenario, where the decision-maker is not an individual but a group, Account Based Marketing is an aid in achieving the right level of personalisation. ABM is a marketing practice, whose feature is to address a message to a specific group of recipients (accounts).

Customer journey still far from integrating contact channels

The struggle of marketing to combine the client's experience in different channels is not new, but it is an ongoing process. Marketing leaders are constantly striving for a single customer view, but high customer expectations make it increasingly complex and difficult to achieve. Achieving a single customer view is even more challenging due to the increasing number of communication channels. On average, marketing leaders spend 34% of their budgets on channels that did not exist five years ago, and by 2019 these expenditures will increase to 40%.

In the last 2 years there has even been an explosion in the use of new channels such as video advertising, SMS, mobile applications, paid and free search engines. High performers 12.8 times more often than underperformers coordinate across all channels of customer communication, and 93% of them say they are very satisfied with their ability to create a common, single customer view compared to 24% of underperformers.

Sixty-seven percent of marketing leaders say the combination of all contact points and channels is critical to the success of a marketing strategy. The benefits of a unified customer journey speak for themselves - 91% of high performers believe that combining contact channels has a positive impact on customer loyalty, 89% say it has an impact on company revenue.

The power of e-mail

Email is ranked 5th among the channels with the highest growth in the last two years (83%). Email provides a lot of information on customer behaviour - when and what kind of email was opened, with what device, what offers were purchased. Neglecting an e-mail channel means skipping the chance to connect e-mails with other channels based on customer behaviour or actions and achieving a higher degree of personalisation.