Salesforce released its annual State of Marketing report this week, featuring insights and trends culled from a survey of 8,200 marketing leaders across the globe. Not surprisingly, digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic factored heavily into the research. But the extent to which the transformation occurred was surprising to the report’s authors.
“Between 45 percent and 50 percent of global marketing leaders, regardless of region and industry, said their marketing completely changed as a result of the pandemic,” according to Chris Jacob, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Salesforce, in terms of priorities, channel tactics, KPIs and more. For instance, when considering measurement tactics, 78 percent of those leaders say they changed or completely re-prioritized their KPIs.
“That often happens in marketing, but to happen that rapidly and completely change, to completely re-prioritize it to that level, and not one industry or one region, is really unprecedented,” Jacob says. The KPIs that saw the biggest boosts in popularity in 2021 compared to 2020 are customer referral rates, customer acquisition costs and content engagement. The top five most valuable marketing metrics, according to the report, are customer satisfaction, revenue, marketing/sales funnel, content engagement and customer lifetime value.
Digital Engagement Tactics
Looking at digital engagement, the report pointed to marketers’ willingness to embrace new tactics, particularly video content. A large majority of those surveyed (81 percent) plan to use pre-produced video, compared to 13 percent in 2020. Livestreamed video was also extremely popular, with 73 percent saying they will use the tactic compared to only 19 percent last year. Influencer marketing, interactive content and user-generated content rounded out the top five digital engagement tactics.
Massive Data Growth
Another key takeaway pertains to the industry’s massive data growth. Global marketing departments expect a 40 percent increase in the number of data sources they use by 2022, the report says. The most popular data sources are from “known digital identities,” transactional data and declared interests and preferences. “Known digital identities is the number one data source people are using to build a single view and then personalize,” Jacob says, “and then second to that is transactional data, which obviously can tie back to a person as well. So, if you look at the long-term trends in the types of data people are using, it’s those that can be directly tied to a person.”
Still, marketers are less bullish on the quality of that data. “And that speaks to the challenge. We have access to data in a way that we’ve never had before, growing at such a rapid rate, but our ability to use it is very much restricted by the technology, the workflows and the nature of the data itself,” Jacob says.
In fact, 42 percent of marketers said that they were completely satisfied with the quality and hygiene of the data, 40 percent said they were satisfied with its completeness, and 39 percent were content with its accessibility. Marketers are least satisfied with identity reconciliation, integration and timeliness of the data. In terms of the most important data management technology use cases, customer insights, consent management and personalization ranked the highest.
Workflows Within Marketing Departments
Workflow with marketing departments is transforming, too. Most marketing organizations (82 percent) are adopting new policies around remote work. However, many of them feel more connected to their teams versus a year ago. Nearly 70 percent of marketers feel connected to both managers and customers, compared to just under 30 percent in 2020. Still, remote work is not without its challenges: 69 percent said it’s harder to collaborate now than it was pre-pandemic.
Adequate training is another problem area. “It’s not just about the team members being set up for success to run the organization,” Jacob explains. “If you’re not offering [quality training] then your chances of attracting and retaining good people are very low, because people have great opportunities to go elsewhere. Training is not just important to run your programs and make them successful; it’s important to attract and retain the people, too.”