Salesforce Research: Customer Experience Reshaping Marketers’ Mindsets

What: Salesforce revealed its Fourth Annual State of Marketing Report, which gathers 3,500 responses from full-time marketing leaders around the world.
Why it matters: The study’s results show companies mainly compete according to customer experience, causing a shift in organizations’ priorities and raising the bar for efficiency in terms of technology use.

Salesforce Research the area of Salesforce dedicated to studying business trends in marketing, IT, sales and service, has published the results of the firm’s Fourth Annual Report on the State of Marketing. Conducted in April 2017, the survey gathered responses from 3,500 marketers around the world. Respondents were divided into three main groups according to how satisfied they were during the last year with the outcomes resulting from their companies’ marketing investment: high-performers (12%) were extremely satisfied, underperformers (12%) were slightly or not at all satisfied, and the vast majority of moderate performers (76%) were very or moderately satisfied.


The study’s main objectives were: to find out how customer experience continues to reshape the marketer’s mindset; to understand how shifting priorities are sparking organizational changes; and to analyze how technology, particularly AI, is raising the bar for efficiency and personalization. The four main results or takeaways were the following.





1. Marketers Still Struggle With Data Issues

The first thing the Salesforce team discovered is how difficult it is for marketers to gain a single customer view from different sources. According to the study, “The difficulty of gaining this single customer view is compounded by elevated customer expectations and the tremendous growth of newer marketing channels.” As Salesforce explains, marketers’ struggle with disparate data isn’t new, but as new marketing channels grow and customers expect a consistent brand experience across all of them, it gets increasingly hard to meet their expectations.

On average, marketers said they spend 34% of the budget on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago, and they estimate this amount to increase to 40% by 2019.



2. New Priorities Imply Organizational Evolution


As stated in the study, “With the rising flood of available customer data, companies are rethinking everything from job roles to how marketing functions in the broader organization.” The emphasis on customer experience has made traditional marketing roles obsolete; over the past 12-18 months, 61% of marketers said they are focusing on evolving to roles aligned with a customer journey strategy, such as “customer experience analyst”.  As shown in the table below, there is a direct correlation between the efforts marketing teams have made to align with customer journey strategies and their satisfaction with the outcomes derived from their companies’ marketing spend. While 89% of marketers who are extremely satisfied with the marketing spend outcomes are aligning marketing roles to customer-based strategies, only 37% of underperformers are thinking of following this path. This is also reflected in marketers’ ability to engage customers across channels, with high performers being 4.4 times more likely than underperformers to focus on this objective.



3. Marketing Technology Plays a Prominent Role

As seen above, marketing teams need to tackle organizational challenges in their journey towards meeting the ever-increasing customer expectations, but the second significant challenge is keeping up with technology. As the study results show, top teams are 4.3 times more likely than underperformers to extensively use a data management platform (DMP) and 4 times more likely to use a customer identity and access management platform (CIAM).





4. AI is Expected to Grow More Than Any Other Technology

As seen in the table above, Artificial Intelligence has an anticipated YoY Growth of 53%, more than any other technology. Some would say the AI revolution has already started, and it definitely has marketers’ attention. About half (51%) of the marketers who participated in the study are already using AI, and 64% of them agree that it has “greatly or substantially increased their overall marketing efficiency”. However, and even though more than a quarter of respondents plan to use AI within a two-year frame, marketers are facing various obstacles according to their level of performance. Top marketing teams say their AI challenges include customer privacy concerns or wrangling data stored in separate systems, while moderate and underperforming marketers say their AI strategies are thwarted by budget constraints and lack of internal skill sets.

On a final note, it seems clear that top-performing marketers stand out as the ones who are more connected to the real top concerns of marketing today: they are 12.8 times more capable of coordinating marketing efforts across channels, 4.2 times more satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data from various sources, 3.1 times more engaged with the use of AI, and 2.4 times more likely to align organizational roles with a customer-experience-based strategy. With all these fronts covered, it’s no wonder they feel extremely pleased with the results.