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Marketing Case study South Africa

Marketing report reveals customer experience and data trends

It's an exciting time to be a marketer. Customers are increasingly engaging online through new innovative formats. Disruptive trends and technology continuously shake up the virtual landscape. And through it all, marketers have been at the forefront of digital transformation, adapting to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new normal.

In this digital-first era, marketing’s responsibility has evolved around two critical roles: the stewards of customer relationships and the engine fueling growth. As we know, 80% of marketers say their organisation leads customer experience initiatives across the business, while 94% of marketers globally view the marketing function as critical for driving growth – up from 87% last year.

Concurrently, data has risen in importance strategically. Marketers rely on data to inform and create personalised and trusted customer experiences - and to optimise campaigns and programmes for maximum ROI. But gathering, untangling and harnessing the power of data is easier said than done. Only 33% of marketers strongly agree they gain insights fast enough for impactful decision-making. As the quantity and variety of data continue to increase, and rules around privacy take hold, it’s never been more important to get the most out of marketing data.

In our latest marketing research, the third edition of the Marketing Intelligence Report, we surveyed more than 2,500 marketing decision-makers around the world to uncover how marketers are using data for growth and customer experiences. Plus, we discover how marketers are adapting to a privacy-focused data ecosystem and the trends shaping cross-channel marketing.

Let’s take a look at some of the top four key findings. You can download the whole marketing report here.

Those in marketing report that proving impact is crucial

Today’s marketer has a dual mandate: nurturing customer relationships and growing revenue. This is reflected in how marketers define success. Nearly half say customer satisfaction is their most important metric, followed by return on marketing investment. However, fewer than two in five marketers report that they feel completely successful in evaluating any of these metrics definitively.

When assessing their analytics strategies, marketers emphasise the need to solve this challenge – listing proving impact on growth and customer experience as their top priorities. To get there, marketers are also prioritising the effective use of data in the form of accurate, timely and consumable insights.

Privacy changes have led to shifts in marketing strategies and investments

Over the past few years, data privacy regulations — such as GDPR, Apple Mail Privacy Protection, and Google’s deprecation of the third-party cookie — have encouraged marketers to adopt a consumer-first, consent-based approach to data collection. At the same time, marketers are feeling downstream effects in their analytics as popular performance metrics like email opens are now less relevant as privacy policies preventing tracking are implemented. In fact, 90% of marketers agree that recent data privacy changes have fundamentally changed how they measure marketing performance.

Ever resilient, most marketers are turning to technology to ensure they can continue to measure performance, understand their customers, and provide them with individualised experiences.

  • 90% of marketers plan to either increase or maintain investments in marketing analytics
  • 88% of marketers plan to either increase or maintain investments in customer data platforms
  • 87% of marketers plan to either increase or maintain investments in real-time interaction and personalisation

Speaking of investments, about half of marketers have increased their investment in paid social, mobile marketing, and web experiences — places where customers shop and do business online. This comes as no surprise as 58% of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before, and 80% of business buyers expect to conduct more business online.

Data quality is paramount – but not universally accounted for

Regardless of their objectives, marketers need dependable data to demonstrate the value of their programmes and drive outcomes. Nearly four in five marketers say data quality is key to driving marketing-led growth and customer experiences.

But not everyone has access to a reliable data foundation nor the ability to unlock it. Marketers say employee resources and manual data integration are top challenges in efficiently evaluating performance. Though marketers are investing in analytics technology, only 51% of marketing teams currently have employees dedicated to analytics, according to the marketing report.

As with all challenges, there’s room for opportunity. It’s time for organisations to use AI and automation to accelerate manual data integration and analytics processes and free up marketing resources for more strategic, creative work.

Data-driven marketing cultures require a centralised view

Without a clear, holistic view of data, it’s hard to give meaning to data-driven marketing efforts. Our marketing report found 98% of marketers emphasise the importance of having a complete, centralised view of all cross-channel marketing. Yet, 71% still evaluate the performance of their cross-channel marketing in silos, leaving plenty of room for improvement and integration.

Not only do marketers need to integrate data across business units and sources, they also need to share it to generate value, foster team-wide collaboration and connect marketing to business outcomes. With data unified in one place, marketers are positioned to lead growth in their organisations and engage their customers.

About Loretta Shen

Loretta Shen is the senior director of product marketing at Salesforce.
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