Today, consumers and business buyers alike expect convenient, relevant, and responsive engagement across every interaction.
What technology trends will reshape the marketing profession in 2019?
Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing report offers answers to this question. Based on a survey of more than 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide, its filled with real-world insights for marketing leaders on the strategic priorities, challenges, and opportunities transforming their field.
Here are four key takeaways from the report, comparing 2018 vs 2017:
- Marketing becomes the cross-functional glue of customer experience: Marketers sharing metrics with sales teams has grown at a rate of 21 percent since 2017
- New dynamics up the ante for data unification: The number of data sources used by marketers has grown at a rate of 19 percent since 2017
- AI and trust underpin customer experiences: Marketers adoption of AI has grown at a rate of 44 percent since 2017
- Marketers adapt to new standards of engagement: The share of dynamically coordinated channels has grown at a rate of 14 percent since 2017
The key driver of these trends is the connected customer. Today, consumers and business buyers alike expect convenient, relevant, and responsive engagement across every interaction. What’s more, they judge companies based on their overall experience, not just their interactions with individual departments. In other words, they see one company — and expect those they buy from to act as one.
With unprecedented choice and access to information, today’s customers demand an overall experience that matches their standards for product quality. Eighty percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
For business units accustomed to owning only one stage of the customer journey, this can be a tricky proposition. Now, departments such as sales, customer service, commerce – and yes, marketing – must consider their impact on the entire customer experience.
Marketers — with their deep understanding of customer needs and behavior — are well positioned to take a lead on these broader customer experience initiatives. I’ve identified three compelling technology trends drawn from the research that can enable marketers to lead their companies to success in 2019.
1. TRUE CROSS-CHANNEL ENGAGEMENT WILL BECOME A KEY DIFFERENTIATOR
2. DATA PROLIFERATION WILL MAKE DATA UNIFICATION A TOP PRIORITY
3. PERSONALIZATION WILL EVOLVE WHERE AI AND TRUST INTERSECT
Personalization isn’t just ‘nice to have’ for marketers any more — it’s a top priority.
Salesforce’s recent State of the Connected Customer study found that 76 percent of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, while 53 percent now expect the offers they receive to always be personalized.
To unlock the data needed for personalization at scale, marketers are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI). While 20 percent of marketers claimed to “extensively use” AI in 2017, 29 percent now say their companies have adopted it. Personalizing the overall customer journey is also now the number one AI use case for marketers.
Marketers are experimenting with AI in an assortment of ways including: real-time next best offers, predictive journeys, improved customer segmentation, automated social and messenger app interactions, personalized channel experiences, dynamic landing pages and websites, offline/online data experience facilitation and programmatic advertising and media buying.
Marketers face increasing scrutiny from customers and regulators alike and AI capabilities continue to advance. Although personalization is treasured by customers, transparency into how data is used is a customer expectation. In fact, 78 percent of them are more likely to trust companies with personal information if it’s used to fully personalize their experience.
As with any major technological shift, the rise of AI in marketing also raises questions. The majority of customers (88 percent) are willing to trade relevant personal information for personalized experiences. However, their trust has been shaken by data breaches and opaque policies around how data is treated.
This is prompting marketers to evaluate how they might be more transparent in their use of technology. More than half (51percent) of marketers say they’re more mindful about balancing personalization and privacy than they were two years ago — although only 30 percent are completely satisfied that they have achieved this balance.
As AI use cases evolve in 2019, I predict that marketers will need to continue to adapt to customers’ dual demands for more personalized, relevant engagement and more transparency and control over how their data is used.