How do you stay ahead as a marketer in this day and age?

The question of whether your marketing planning still meets the expectations of your customers requires a faster evaluation than normal, so that you are able to make timely adjustments. Salesforce research shows that 84% of customers consider the experiences companies provide at least as important as their products and services. Leading marketers understand this and are looking for new ways to approach their customers, for example with digital touchpoints such as mobile apps. The deployment of AI has also increased by 186% in the past two years. B2B marketers use ABM (Account Based Marketing), data and AI to develop personalized campaigns to meet the expectations of their customers. The digital transformation is a critical success factor for companies due to the major changes that still await us.

The sixth edition of the recently released Salesforce State of Marketing report features insights from nearly 7,000 leading marketers around the world. This research provides insight into the strategic priorities, challenges and technologies that concern marketers and how they anticipate them.

Read all insights and trends from 7000 marketers worldwide. Download our research here.

Some important things from the research:

1. Innovation is the top priority
Top marketers consider innovation their number one priority, followed by real-time interaction. They are looking for new ways to approach customers through digital touchpoints. For example, they indicate that their use of mobile apps has increased by 34% since 2018 and the use of video by 21%. Real-time contact with the customer is a big challenge, but marketers are striving for more and more real-time customer experiences because customers simply expect it. The Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report shows that 71% of customers use multiple channels to initiate and complete a transaction. They want the content offered to them on Channel B to be based on previous actions through Channel A. More than half (51%) of marketers surveyed say their content is dynamic across channels. Yet there is still room for improvement.

2. The use of AI by marketers has grown enormously
Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be regarded as hype, but now plays an important role. 84% of marketers say they use AI, compared to 29% in 2018. That’s an increase of no less than 186% in two years.

During the current crisis, there is a huge need for customer data that can be used for empathetic marketing. Marketers need to have a clear understanding of the changing needs of their customers in order to respond to them. Thanks to AI insights from their data (such as transaction data or indicated interests), marketers can personalize and take actions on a large scale.

3. Account-based marketing (ABM): one of the cornerstones of B2B
B2B customers expect just as much empathy and engagement as B2C customers. B2B marketers use data and AI to meet these expectations through account-based marketing (ABM). Using ABM, they develop different highly personalized campaigns for their main accounts. They also increase the Customer Lifetime Value of their customer relationships with ABM.

92% of B2B marketers use an ABM program. The emergence of ABM programs is quite recent; 64% of these programs were launched in the past five years. These programs have developed considerably; 68% now use automation.

4. New emerging technologies are leading us to an uncertain future
Marketers expect that new technologies and social developments will cause even greater changes in the decade ahead. 60% of the top marketers think 5G will have a major impact on marketing in the next decade. With higher speeds, other innovations, including virtual reality, are coming within reach for an even better customer experience.

What the future holds for marketing? No one can predict what will happen next week, let alone next year. The corona crisis is forcing companies to think and determine how they can improve contact with their customers and give customers what they want, when they want it. Suddenly something is done with ideas that have been around for years. Marketers can take the lead in this innovation; 79% of marketers say they are the driving force behind customer experience initiatives within their organization.


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