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Four top insights from the new State of Marketing report

Based on a survey of more than 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide, the fifth edition State of Marketing report shares insights and guidance for 2019. It focuses on four emerging trends.

Based on a survey of more than 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide, the fifth edition State of Marketing report shares insights and guidance for 2019. It focuses on four emerging trends. 

1. Top marketers lead CX and work across functions

Customer expectations are at an all-time high and marketers are increasingly responsible for meeting customer demands. More than half (54%) of high-performing marketers – those who are completely satisfied with their overall marketing performance and the outcomes of their marketing investments – say their organisations are leading customer experience (CX) initiatives across the business.

Alignment within and across teams and functions is also vital for creating the excellent CX that earns customer trust.

  • Top marketing teams stay aligned: 65% of marketing leaders say all team members within their organisation share common goals and metrics.

  • Marketing and commerce teams are increasingly connected: 50% share common goals and metrics.

  • Marketing and sales team are collaborating more frequently: 54% of marketers feel empowered to collaborate with sales teams, and 52% share common goals and metrics.

  • Of all departments, marketing and service work closest together: 55% of marketing teams collaborate with service teams to manage and respond to inquiries and issues over social media, 54% have a free and open flow of customer data between teams, and 53% share common goals and metrics.

2. Data sources increasing, but siloed

Marketers turn to an abundance of data sources to better understand customer preferences. Everything from email open rates to web activity to demographics help marketers paint vivid pictures of their customers, but all of this data often lives in siloed technologies and is difficult to unify.

  • The median number of data sources – any source of personally identifiable data on customers that can be used to inform marketing strategies and tactics – is forecast to jump from 10 in 2017 to 15 in 2019, but only 47% of marketers say they have a completely unified view of customer data sources.

  • The top four technologies used to solve for customer identity are marketing databases, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, email service providers (ESPs) and data management platforms (DMPs).

  • The DMP has transcended its traditional use case of managing cookie IDs to generate audience segments for digital advertising. In the next two years, marketers are planning to use DMPs for audience insights, audience discovery and segmentation, identity resolution and management, creative testing and optimisation, and content personalisation.

3. Balancing AI-powered personalisation with trust and privacy

Personalisation is key to achieving all marketing objectives, including brand building, lead generation and customer acquisition. The power of AI enables marketers to better identify customers and engage them with the right information on the right channel, which is the core of great marketing.

Marketers are increasingly prioritising personalisation, leveraging the power of AI and turning to numerous data sources to improve customer engagement.

Marketers’ use of AI has grown 44% since 2017, but as personalisation improves, other challenges emerge; earning customer trust and respecting privacy are particularly difficult, with only 30% of marketers completely satisfied with their ability to balance personalisation with privacy, although they recognise that their success depends on it. 

  • High-performing marketers have been at the forefront of AI adoption with 40% of them using it in 2018. This is a significantly higher proportion than the 29% of all marketers using AI in 2018, up from 20% in 2017.

  • Marketers are seeing more opportunities to use AI. Today, most marketers use AI in two different ways, such as powering real-time next best offers or predictive marketing journeys. By 2020, most marketers will use AI an additional four ways, including personalising customer journeys and creating dynamic landing pages and websites.

  • Recent privacy regulations have made trust a marketing imperative: 51% of marketing teams say they’re more mindful about balancing personalisation and privacy than they were two years ago.

4. Real-time customer engagement top priority and top challenge

Real-time customer engagement ranks as the top marketing priority and the top marketing challenge. Marketers know that every communication should build upon the last interaction, which means that the campaigns they deploy need to be dynamic. But surfacing the most relevant next-best marketing message regardless of channel is easier said than done.

  • Only 28% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to engage with customers across channels at scale.

  • Two-way engagement (in which marketers adjust strategy and tactics based on customer actions) is now commonplace, with 52% of marketers adapting marketing strategy and tactics based on how a customer interacts with their content.

  • Marketers’ ability to engage dynamically across channels (or evolve from channel to channel based on customer actions) is nascent. Only 32% of marketing leaders say a given channel is dynamically coordinated with others, up from 28% in 2017.

For more insights and trends, download the fifth edition State of Marketing report.

State of Marketing

Insights and trends from over 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide


This study was conducted by Salesforce Research through a third-party survey firm in August and September 2018. Four thousand-one hundred and one full-time marketing leaders in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), Singapore, the UK and the US were surveyed. Respondents were segmented into high-performing, moderate-performing or underperforming groups.

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organisational 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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