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Three Ways Marketing Teams Can Overcome Barriers to Customer Engagement

Three Ways Marketing Teams Can Overcome Barriers to Customer Engagement
South African marketing teams overcome challenges with real-time engagement, tech, and personalised strategies.

Explore how real-time engagement, better use of tech, and smarter personalisation are helping South African marketing teams overcome new challenges.

Our State of Marketing report uncovered the top three challenges facing South African marketing teams – here’s how you can overcome them.

Tightening budgets, a focus on efficiency, and meeting agendas peppered with the words do more with less… Sounds familiar, right? 

As marketers, our day-to-day lives are hitting some serious turbulence courtesy of the shifting financial landscape. 

But across South Africa, marketing teams are overcoming this challenge. In fact, some are even using these tough times as an opportunity to reevaluate their approach. 

And in doing so, they’re reducing costs across the board, boosting productivity with evolving digital tools (like AI and automation), and ensuring they’re getting the most out of their platform choices.

Our State of Marketing report sets out to capture exactly how your peers are doing this, and includes insights from 200 marketers in South Africa. 

The findings? The top three challenges that marketing teams in South Africa face are:

  1. How can you engage with customers in real-time?
  2. How can you efficiently use modern tools and tech?
  3. How can you balance personalisation with customer privacy?

Let’s unpack these findings and see how to overcome the challenges – so you can ride that turbulence, and set up your organisation for success with less.

State of Marketing Report

Find out how 6,000+ marketers are prioritising cost-savings and efficiency, removing silos, and innovating to meet new customer needs.

State of Marketing Eighth Edition

Challenge one: How can you engage customers in real time?

Customers are changing how they buy, and where they buy from. 

According to our 2023 State of the Connected Customer research, 91% of South African consumers value the experience a company offers just as much as its products and services. (Up from 86% in 2022.)

To meet customers in the moment and better reach these high expectations, 88% of marketing teams are turning to AI technology to personalise the customer journey across channels.

Intelligent use of AI is a win-win for your marketing teams. 

Imagine a rugby fan getting a tailored email sent to their inbox – with exclusive content like post-match interviews and relevant offers like discounted tickets – as soon as they leave the stadium.

AI lets you suggest the best offers to your customers in real-time. 

The result? 

Truly relevant offers that show your customers that you understand their needs, preferences, and motivations. Offers that arrive in the moment they’re most likely going to be used. And combined, this increases engagement and builds loyalty. 

Unsurprisingly, a huge 80% of South African marketers use AI for this very purpose.

In today’s subscription-based, everything-as-a-service world, AI tools can also identify and target at-risk customers and re-engage them with your brand. And this is about to get crucial. Customers will consider which subscriptions to keep as the recession begins to bite.

The key to consistently delivering this level of personalised real-time engagement (the kind that can boost loyalty and retention) is through collecting real-time data, analysing it in real time, and measuring performance.

This is a strong suit for South African marketing teams, with 74% saying they can already measure marketing performance in real-time.

Top tip: Draw up a defined AI strategy

The key to mastering real-time engagement is using AI in the right areas at the right time. 

Start by establishing your goals. Then draw up a list of the key marketing processes that can be automated. And finally, look for AI and automation tools, proven to increase productivity and efficiency, while improving the experience of both customers and employees. 

Challenge two: How can you efficiently use modern tools and tech?

Many South African businesses understand that digital technology can have a dramatic impact on their ability to collaborate. So, it’s no surprise that teams are investing in shiny new tools across the board. 

In fact, 44% of marketing teams have invested more in collaboration technologies as a marketing strategy, and 80% believe this shift is permanent following the pandemic.

But in spite of this investment, South African marketing teams struggle to turn their technology spend into tangible benefit with just 29% completely satisfied with their collaboration with cross-functional teams. 

Worse still, 64% agree that it’s harder to collaborate with colleagues now than before the pandemic. 

This is a symptom of a greater trend we’re seeing across teams investing in automation and employee productivity solutions. 

Marketing teams need access to a huge amount of data to improve customer and employee engagement in real time. But this often leads to an increasing number of tools – which slowly flood your martech stack.

And if you’re not careful, this ends up having a negative effect on your efficiency. 

Martech solutions are only as good as their ability to make the right data available without adding complexity: your teams shouldn’t have to swivel-chair between multiple solutions (which comes at the cost of your productivity). 

To translate technology investments into business value, marketers (and their companies) must focus beyond the tech. And instead, focus on clear, cross-team visibility into their data. 

Top tip: Unify your data with a customer data platform

Data Cloud gives you access to customer engagement data from multiple sources into one single source of truth. This lets you combine all of that data in real time so you can offer your customers hyper-personalised experiences – you know, the kind that gives customers those little moments of magic. 

It can also unify identities for our known customers (emails and mobile numbers) with data gathered from things like anonymous cookies and mobile IDs. 

Which means you can link a journey that started with an email campaign and continued onto the website with the same customer. 

Data Cloud conducts data collection, unification, activation, and insights to deliver personalised ads at the right time. All of which gives you unparalleled insights into your customers. And when it’s combined with AI and your CRM, it’s worth its weight in gold.

Challenge three: How can you balance personalisation with privacy?

Striking the balance between personalisation and privacy is really tricky. A huge 64% of South African marketers agree that meeting customer expectations is more difficult than a year ago.

Why? Because truly transformative, customer-centric personalisation relies on data. And lots of it. South African companies are already projected to use over 25 different data sources in 2023. 

With more customer data coming in, a robust approach to privacy and security measures is essential to building and maintaining customer trust. 

To prepare for this, marketers in South Africa are:

  • Creating a first-party data strategy (59%)
  • Investing in new technologies (57%)
  • Providing information-sharing incentives for customers (53%)

Clicks: Engagement in action

It’s the stuff of nightmares for marketers: a spam trap issue saw Clicks’ email subscriber database fall from 1.5 million to 400,000. 

So, what did this leading health and wellness company do? The team put a robust recovery plan into action, doubled down on personalisation, and built a strong database with better-quality information. 

Marketing Cloud helps Clicks deliver truly tailored and consistent customer experiences, shaped around evolving interests, needs, and preferences. And Data Cloud for Marketing helps Clicks curate and present tailored content seamlessly across the website, campaigns, email, SMS, and WhatsApp. This content is based on an in-depth understanding of each individual’s history, interests, and browsing patterns.

“Salesforce helps us create a seamless experience for our customers, empowering them to access Clicks when, where, and how it suits them best.”

Dr. Melanie van Rooy, CMO, Clicks Group

The results? Clicks can automatically deliver appropriate content to each customer – but crucially, ‌customers choose when and how they wish to consume this content. This has led to a 300% growth in its direct marketing audience, a 20% increase in email open rates, and a 14% growth overall.

Find out more about Clicks’ journey here.

A connected approach is key for South African marketing teams

You have a huge opportunity to engage customers in real-time, ensure your technology choices increase collaboration, and deliver market-leading customer comfort. 

The key to getting there? A connected and strategic approach to AI, automation, and technology.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s going on for marketing teams in South Africa. Want to see the full picture and discover what over 6,000 marketing professionals around the world are doing? 

We have just the thing…

State of Marketing Report

Find out how 6,000+ marketers are prioritising cost-savings and efficiency, removing silos, and innovating to meet new customer needs.

State of Marketing Eighth Edition

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