The sixth edition of the State of Marketing research reveals the top five challenges faced by marketers in ANZ are:
Am I surprised by these results? Nope. They reaffirm not only my own experience but what I see businesses experiencing every day. Rapid and dramatic change in customer expectations has propelled marketing teams to the forefront to find ways to adapt and innovate and get in front of those changes. As customers demand even more personalised customer experience across a flourishing array of channels and platforms, the pressure is on marketers to deliver.
What might seem surprising is one notable difference between the ANZ challenges and the global challenges. The number two challenge faced by marketers globally is innovation, which doesn’t even make the list in ANZ.
When it comes to creating unified, connected, cohesive customer experiences, however, the challenge of finding and applying the right technology to meet that imperative is felt worldwide.
But let’s return to that number one challenge being experienced by marketers across Australia and New Zealand: insufficient organisational structure and processes.
Traditionally the marketing team was a discrete department among several others in a company. Today that siloed approach proves cumbersome when engaging with customers for whom departments are, to all intents and purposes, invisible and irrelevant. The challenge is maintaining clarity of purpose at a time when lines are blurring all over the place. Marketing is woven throughout nearly every aspect of an organisation’s operations today and the ones where that overlap and infiltration is supported, are succeeding.
Take for example, Trailblazer and featured Salesforce Live: A&NZ speaker Rachael Powell, Chief Customer Officer at Xero. Collaboration with product teams, education teams, marketing teams and with finance was crucial in Xero’s strategy to support small businesses as quickly as possible when COVID hit. Without this collaborative approach, an end-to-end customer strategy would not have been possible.
But this approach is not always an easy balance to strike and can require a change in mindset and culture so that marketing — once thought of in a very limited and defined way – can be more comprehensively embraced for the essential contribution it must make to succeeding in the age of the customer.
Change in structure and processes is happening within marketing departments themselves, not just within the greater organisation. Our research shows, for example, that traditional marketing roles focused on specific stages of the sales funnel, or just on email or social media, are no longer cutting it. Collaboration is the name of the new game as individual marketers become involved at almost every stage of the customer journey. Indeed, our research shows that 88% of high performers lead customer experience initiatives across their organisations compared to 68% of underperformers.
It makes perfect sense of course, that creating a cohesive and connected experience for the customer requires a cohesive and connected effort from an organisation. But it can require some significant shifts not just in a traditional organisational structure, but in the way we approach structure altogether. These days “sufficient” structure looks more like a flatline and less like a standard org chart pinned to the department notice board.
The next top four challenges faced by ANZ marketers all have their specific characteristics and associated problems, but they also have an overarching theme in common: unity and cohesion. Marketers are striving to create a unified, 360 degree view of the customer by bringing together disparate data sources to provide outstanding CX. These challenges revolve around gathering and aggregating information in a systematic and efficient way that improves the customer experience.
Customers demand an experience that is consistent, connected and cohesive. They will connect with brands and organisations across a multitude of channels and expect that organisation to have the records of all those interactions at their fingertips. Today’s customer, for example, might have filled out a contact form for their initial enquiry, followed up with an email, chatted with a bot, commented on social media and spoken with a sales rep on the phone. If their data from each of those contact points is not shared effectively across the organisation, their experience can be dramatically undermined. Every time a customer has to repeat themselves or are targeted with an irrelevant product, there’s a big risk of them walking away. For example, 54% of customers say they get annoyed if they are targeted with an ad for something they’ve already bought. And given marketers are spearheading CX, sharing a unified view of the customer across the organisation is a top priority for them.
High performing marketers are meeting this imperative by collaborating through strategic initiatives like account-based marketing (ABM) and increasingly sophisticated iterations of CRM. But with team alignment still a work in progress for many organisations, achieving that shared view remains difficult.
Engaging customers in real time is the third top challenge faced by ANZ marketers and one they are striving to meet with innovative new technology and tools. But first the organisation must recognise that being always on and available to their customers is no longer considered a bonus feature, it’s a necessity. A day’s wait in response to an enquiry doesn’t cut it.
AI powered tools are coming into their own here as marketers seek to optimise social media, mobile and video uses. High performing organisations are using AI for an average of seven uses including driving next best actions in real time, and marketers report a 186% increase in AI adoption since 2018.
Organisations wanting to boost their real time engagement should look to innovative AI powered technologies to meet their customers wherever and whenever they want.
All the data in the world is useless if it can’t be used effectively. And marketers are facing the challenge of vast quantities of data flowing in from a huge array of disparate sources. It’s an issue that is fundamentally connected to the ones discussed previously — the challenge of aligning organisational structure and creating a unified view of the customer, and it reinforces the point that data silos must go.
Data sources are more diverse than ever as transactional data, declared interests and preferences, and known digital identities gain popularity. In ANZ, marketers are using an average of five sources with an anticipated increase to seven this year. The goal then, is to establish a single source of truth from all of these sources to continually improve customer experience.
Currently, only 34% of marketers are completely satisfied with the integration of their customer data. Isolated, unintegrated data brings nothing to the table so marketers must embrace innovative new solutions that can aggregate customer data not just from marketing but across service, sales and support teams.
The customer experience ranges across a staggering range of channels and devices. This presents some significant challenges to providing the seamless customer journey every marketer strives for. As we saw above, information is coming in from all kinds of sources and customers are hopping from one device or channel to another during the course of their journey.
When communications and data are siloed, that journey can end up taking all kinds of bumpy detours, head into dead ends, and maybe even break down altogether. Integrated data and that shared 360-view are essential then to fuelling a smooth and successful customer experience. It’s a task that requires the kind of sophisticated data unification and identity resolution technologies that can make a journey personal, relevant and efficient – a topic Trailblazer and Salesforce Live: A&NZ speaker MECCA spoke to in their session on digitally transforming in uncertain times.
The challenges faced by marketers are significant. But they are not impossible to overcome. The customer experience remains at the heart of every solution as marketers turn to innovative new digital tools and shifts within the relationships that form their organisations to forge ahead.
Understand the biggest priorities and challenges across global marketing in 2021 — download the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report.