Marketers’ Single Biggest Opportunity? Look to Customer Experience and Data

March 18, 2019

Customer experience continues to stay front of mind for many marketers, according to the latest Digital Trends report [download page] by Econsultancy and Adobe. Out of the more than 12,500 B2B and B2C professionals surveyed, a leading 20% of the B2B organizations reported that optimizing the customer experience is their single most exciting opportunity in 2019.

However, while optimizing customer experience comes top for B2B, it takes second place to data-driving marketing that focuses on the individual (21%) for B2C marketers. B2C marketers may be paying heed to consumers’ views: a recent study found that fully three-quarters (74%) of consumers expect companies to treat them as an individual, not as a member of some segment like “millennials” or “suburban mothers.”

Creating compelling content for digital experience was also exciting for B2B (15%) and B2C (13%) organizations. Some 10% of B2Bs are excited about video to increase brand engagement with the same percentage seeing opportunity in using marketing automation to increase efficiency and yield. On the B2C front, 7% and 8%, respectively, found those two areas to be their most exciting opportunities of the various options listed (see the chart above).

Data-Driven Advertising Impacts Priorities for 2019

Companies in the US are spending more than $19 billion on third-party audience data and data activation, and $2.25 billion of that is being spent on analytics, modeling and segmentation, according to the IAB. The size of this investment appears to be influencing priorities – in this Adobe survey, more than half (55%) of respondents said that one of their top three priorities for this year is the better use of data for more effective audience segmentation and targeting.

On a similar note, understanding the return on marketing investment is one of the top priorities for 39% of marketers. A separate report from The Trade Desk and Forbes backs up the importance of return on marketing investment, with CMOs putting ROI up with customer loyalty and retention in important metrics.

More than 4 in 10 (42%) respondents are also prioritizing improving customer intelligence and insights for a holistic customer view, while the same amount of respondents are focusing on integration of marketing tools for greater efficiencies and better workflow.

What Challenges Are Marketers Facing?

Research previously featured on MarketingCharts shows there are a myriad of concerns disturbing the sleep of senior marketers. The research from Adobe and Econsultancy appears to support – and add – to that substantial list.

Coming up again is the difficulty in getting a holistic customer view, with 44% of those surveyed listing it as one of the top three factors keeping them up at night. Another 41% of respondents also list the challenge of tracking marketing effectiveness and media spend as a key obstacle. Third on the list, cited by 4 in 10 (40%) marketers as being among their top-3 challenges, was ensuring a consistent experience throughout the customer lifecycle.

Skills and resourcing also feature on the insomnia-inducing rankings. A lack of internal resources was a challenge for more than one-third (38%) of respondents, while a lack of specialist marketing expertise was chosen by 20%.

Securing the right talent appears to be a recurring theme. A recently released study from Spear Marketing Group concluded that more than 9 in 10 (92%) B2B companies are finding it difficult to find good marketing talent, especially in areas of marketing analytics, marketing operations and demand generation.

Looking to the Future

While marketers do face challenges in the present, they are still looking to the future. When asked what they regard as the most exciting prospect in three years’ time, both larger and smaller organizations named their top two prospects as delivering personalized experiences in real time, and utilizing artificial intelligence/bots to drive campaigns and experiences. However, these two options appears to be of greater importance for larger organizations (37% and 22%, respectively) than smaller organizations (31% and 17%, respectively).

Smaller organizations, for their part, appear to be a little more excited than larger organizations about the prospect of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices as well as the prospect of engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a survey of 12,815 marketers, creatives and IT professionals. A plurality of respondents are based in Europe, with the Asia-Pacific and North American regions the next-most heavily represented.

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