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What 88% of Marketers Are Saying about Customer Expectations.

With insights from more than 8,200 marketers, the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing reveals the biggest priorities and challenges that will shape the future of marketing in 2021 and beyond.

Digital has long been a driver of performance for high-impact organisations. According to our latest State of Marketing report, it is now the core focus for high-performing global marketers — an essential for identification of market trends, positive customer experience, consistency of service and much more.

Looking locally, 88% of ANZ marketers said customer expectations are changing their digital strategies. Perhaps unsurprisingly in an environment in which marketers are driving customer experience, they also indicated their jobs have become more important. Eighty-two percent of ANZ marketers said they feel their work adds more value than it did a year ago.

This year’s State of Marketing report, now in its seventh edition, is our largest-ever pulse check on local and global marketing trends, with insights from more than 8,200 respondents across 37 countries. It’s a revealing window into what is inspiring and challenging marketers and how they’re preparing for the future.

It also tells us about the work environment. For example, 49% of marketers in ANZ say they anticipate post-pandemic work location to be a hybrid of home and office.

Despite the challenges of distributed working, in ANZ 72% of marketers say they feel more connected to their colleagues in marketing, but only 41% feel closer to their colleagues in other departments.

Seventy-six percent of ANZ marketers say collaboration is tougher than pre-pandemic, and 77% say meeting customer expectations is more difficult. 

So how do marketers grapple with the new reality? Read on for five key takeaways from the report.

1. Collaboration is a top priority and challenge

Some top priorities and challenges are evergreen — unifying customer data sources and complying with privacy regulations, for example. 

It’s what’s new to the list that paints a vivid picture of what marketers are concerned by, particularly collaboration, or sharing a unified view of customers across business units.

ANZ marketers top priorities and challenges from the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report

Australian and New Zealand marketers had another new priority in their top five — engaging with customers in real time, also their number one challenge.

Collaboration within the marketing organisation and with sales and service departments is the only way marketers can deliver a cohesive experience at every customer touch point. It’s no wonder that 69% of marketing organisations in ANZ (compared to 78% globally) have adopted new work collaboration technology. 

Coordination across marketing campaigns and activities, as well as being digital savvy, will help marketers find new, innovative ways to measure marketing ROI. That’s important, as 38% of ANZ marketers say measurement/attribution is still a manual process, and 40% say they can only analyse marketing performance once a campaign is over.

2. Innovation and resilience help marketers deliver on customer demands in digital

Customers are going digital. Since the pandemic, our State of the Connected Customer report said, globally 60% of consumer interactions with companies have been digital compared to 42% pre-pandemic.

Although pursuing digital innovation can be daunting due to the overwhelming amount of new channels and technologies, marketers are leaning in. Even digital channels we might have classified as emerging are seeing global widespread adoption, such as podcasts and streaming (OTT) ads.

Global stats from the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report

In the end, it’s innovation and resilience that separates those digital marketers who are best prepared for the digital long-haul from the competition. 

Forty-eight percent of underperforming marketers globally — those moderately or less satisfied with their overall performance and investment outcomes — say they struggle to innovate their marketing strategies, tactics and technology. That’s compared to just 31% of high performers who say the same.

3. More data doesn’t mean better data or smarter data decisions

Marketers in ANZ are planning to use 20% more data sources on average by 2022 than they did in 2020.

A global comparison of high-performers versus underperformers reveals another striking statistic. Compared to 47% of high performers globally, only 8% of underperformers were completely satisfied with their use of data to craft relevant customer experiences.

There’s a clear problem in the world of customer data.

In fact, marketers tell us that more data sources doesn’t necessarily mean richer customer insights. In fact, globally they felt their data quality left much to be desired.

Global stats from the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report

Marketing leaders can take advantage of the opportunity to improve their data management by becoming data champions within their organisation and by boosting the data literacy of their teams. 

Data literacy can help marketing leaders improve on things like data quality by being purposeful in choosing data sources, and data integration by partnering closely with IT.

4. Account-based marketing soars — with caveats

Last year’s State of Marketing report found that account-based marketing (ABM) programs had rapidly gained in popularity. This year, 81% of B2B marketers in ANZ said they’re using an ABM platform.

B2B buyers expect the same level of empathy and personalisation that B2C consumers have come to enjoy, especially during the pandemic-era shift to digital-first B2B selling — a trend that ABM programs address. 

Global stats from the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report

Despite the resources being dedicated to ABM, only half of all ANZ marketers are completely satisfied with any one element of their account-based marketing programs — including technology, measurement, personalisation capabilities, and the identification of target accounts.

We’ll continue to see ABM in B2B marketers’ toolboxes. But marketers might consider making plans now to improve digital skill sets and internal sales and service processes that make account-based marketing programs successful. 

5. Marketers need relevant training to prepare for the future

There are two main approaches to improving a marketing team’s skills. One is hiring to fill knowledge gaps. The other is upskilling or reskilling. What’s the best option to future-proof a team?

It may depend on the quality of the internal training resources. In ANZ unfortunately, that’s a cause for concern for many teams. Only 34% of ANZ marketers say they’re provided with digital proficiency training.

Even marketers’ top-requested skills training is falling short. The number 1 skill global marketers said they want to improve is creativity, yet only 53% of ANZ companies offer training in that area. Even critical data analytics skills that are in high demand are falling behind, with only 37% of ANZ companies offering analytics training. 

Marketing leaders face a choice — do they rely on the quality of the reskilling resources they have, or do they look elsewhere? 

The choice begins with the conscious decision to be proactive. This is an excellent time for marketing leaders to analyse their existing training resources.

Having the right skills on their team means marketers can react to dynamic conditions and embrace new trends around what customers want.

Understand the biggest priorities and challenges across global marketing in 2021 — download the 7th Edition of the State of Marketing report.

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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