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The State of Marketing Report: Canadian Highlights You Need to Know

Now in its seventh edition, the State of Marketing drew upon a survey of more than 8,200 respondents across 37 countries.

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.

Success in building a brand used to be about mastering what are commonly known as the four P’s of marketing — product, place, price and promotion. When you look at the data in the latest Salesforce State of Marketing report, however, it appears Canadian brand-builders might be characterized by four Cs — connected, collaborative, customer-focused and confident.

Despite the considerable difficulties they may have encountered over the past year and a half, the global outlook among marketers showed they recognize how their world has changed and are ready to face it head-on.

At a global level, for example, 77% of marketers said they feel their work adds more value than it did a year ago. That could be because, as organizations seek to redouble their efforts to grow, the need for effective brand awareness and conversion is more critical than ever. Or it could simply be a product of the fact that marketing has become increasingly influential in nurturing relationships with customers.

Changing Customer Expectations

This renewed sense of purpose is coming at a time when 84% of marketers around the world also agreed that customer expectations are changing their digital strategies. Though the changes might vary from one brand to another, much of it is tied to new habits and behaviours among consumers. The shift towards e-commerce, social media, apps and other online experiences that began several years ago is picking up speed.

In Canada, there is evidence to suggest that marketers are tackling the challenges in front of them by being in a state of continuous learning. Less than half, for example, or 44%, deemed the training they received as “excellent.” That’s not necessarily a knock against their schools or employers. It’s just that many essential marketing channels have only recently become essential, and digital tools that might once have looked like nice-to-haves are now must-haves in order to stay competitive.

While the full State of Marketing report is well worth reading in its entirety, the best way to understand the Canada-specific findings might be to look at how top priorities and challenges here are connected — and how marketers should address them:

The No. 1 Priority: Improving marketing ROI/Attribution

The No. 1. Challenge: Sharing a unified view of customer data across business units

The Analysis: Canadian marketers have come a long way from the days when they measured the impact of their work by web site traffic and social media likes alone. They know they need to show a more direct link between delivering a message to customers and having that spur action, such as a decision to purchase or to become a repeat buyer.

Getting to that kind of return on investment (ROI) picture requires breaking down the silos that once existed between marketing, sales, service, and other functions. This could explain why getting a unified view of customer data was ranked as their top challenge.

There are reasons to be optimistic, though. For example, the report showed that in 2020, the average number of data sources Canadian marketers was using was five. That handful has expanded to six this year and is projected to nearly double to nine by 2022.

More sources of data — by connecting marketing automation platforms with a CRM, for example — makes that unified view of the customer possible. And because it involves systems across multiple functions, it becomes easier to share that view across the rest of the business.

The No. 2 Priority: Innovation

The No. 2 Challenge: Creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices

The Analysis: You can define “innovation” in many different ways, but for marketers optimizing the way you develop your brand presence in myriad digital environments is probably one of the best ones.

It’s one thing to brand your own web site, for instance, and another to tell stories customers will care about in multiple compelling formats. Fortunately, Canadian marketers are already going down that road. The top channels with increased value include video, digital content and audio.

As they make better use of their YouTube channel, launch podcasts and create other digital hubs, marketers will begin to see how they can be linked as part of customer journeys that align naturally with phases like awareness, research, consideration and purchase.

The No. 3 Priority: Sharing a unified view of customer data across business units

The No. 2 Challenge: Innovating

The Analysis: Sound familiar? It’s not really a surprise that marketers see the same things as both priorities and challenges, and that they might rank them as such a little differently.

A unified view of customer data might only be the No. 3 priority because Canadian marketers realize it will take multiple steps to reach that goal. One of those steps is creating more of a one-to-one marketing experience, which is why personalization ranked as the top customer data platform use case. This was followed by customer insights and segmentation, both of which contribute to the same united view.

As for innovation, it’s challenging because it doesn’t just involve how brands market to customers but how marketing departments are run.

Canadian marketers are stepping up here, too. Almost three quarters, or 73% of Canadians, said they have adopted new work collaboration technology in response to the pandemic. And as COVID-19 is contained almost half of them, or 47%, expect to work a hybrid of in-person or remote. That will call for considerable innovation in processes.

Marketing may look a lot different than it once did, but Canadian brand builders are putting themselves in a position to succeed in 2021 and beyond.

To find out more, download the full State of Marketing report today.

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