What do 3,500 marketing leaders worldwide think about current marketing trends? Salesforce Research surveyed global CMOs, marketing VPs, directors, and more to find the biggest trends that are shaking up the industry.

This new research, published in the fourth annual "State of Marketing" report, affirmed a few hunches but also revealed some surprises.

Most research on current marketing trends shows that customer experience is a rising priority. We found that, beyond focusing on customer experience, marketing leaders are starting to view customer experience as the primary battlefield for their brands. Customer experience is prime territory because customer demands are higher than ever; two-thirds of consumers, for example, would switch brands if they were treated like a number instead of an individual.

But what does it take to deliver a winning customer experience? With rapidly evolving marketing channels, looming organizational changes, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) knocking at the door, the bar for "winning customer experience" is set higher and higher.

Here's a quick look at a few large-scale marketing trends covered in the report:

Marketing Roles Are Transforming to Reflect Customer Focus

Marketing's tectonic shift toward customer experience is having a ripple effect on roles within the marketing department. Over the past 12-18 months, 61% of marketers say they're more focused on evolving from a traditional marketing structure to roles aligned with a customer journey strategy.

In fact, 59% of marketing leaders say that traditional marketing roles limit their ability to engage customers. Recent years have introduced a slew of new positions, ranging from "customer experience analyst" to "lifecycle marketing manager."

Marketing's Place in the Broader Organization Is Also Shifting

Beyond influencing changes within marketing, customer journey strategies are upending

marketing's role in the broader business.

Sixty-four percent of marketing leaders believe customer journey strategies require organizational shifts - for example, redefining how sales, service, and marketing teams work together.

Top marketing leaders are 3.7x more likely than under-performers to be very satisfied with their collaboration with other departments - and additionally are 3x more likely to extensively use CRM tools.

For a deep dive on marketing-sales and marketing-service relationships, be sure to check out the full report.

Marketing Is Embracing the AI Revolution

It seems AI is making headlines across every area of business these days, and marketing is no
exception. In fact, AI is the leading technology where marketers expect the most growth over the next two years. Marketers anticipate AI use will grow by 53% - a much higher rate than any other tech type.

About half (51%) of marketing leaders are already using AI, with more than a quarter planning to pilot it in the next two years. Unsurprisingly, high performers lead the way with 72% reporting current use. While usage seems high for a tech type that's still in its infancy, AI has its roots in tactics like product recommendations and predictive lead scoring, which successful marketers have been using for years.

Other topics explored in the "State of Marketing" research include:

  • What are the main challenges marketing leaders face when creating a connected customer experience?

  • Which marketing channels are experiencing the highest growth rates for B2B and B2C marketers?

  • Which marketing tools and technologies are experiencing the highest growth rates?

  • What do B2B marketing leaders think about account-based marketing?

The report also takes a close look at what makes top marketers tick, covering questions such as:

  • Which technologies do top marketing leaders find essential for creating 1-to-1 marketing across every touchpoint?

  • How do top marketing leaders coordinate messages across channels?

  • What do top marketing leaders rely on their tech stack to deliver?

  • What are the primary roadblocks top marketing leaders face in executing an AI strategy?

Download now for an inside look at what's top of mind for today's CMOs and marketing leaders.