Salesforce State of Marketing report promotes empathy, AI, and more focused KPIs

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Salesforce has published its latest global State of Marketing Report, which has explored the rate of transformation within marketing and the data and organisational goals needed to achieve it.

The report, which collected data from almost 7,000 marketing leaders globally, had three overarching findings:

  • Marketing transformation is taking on new urgency
  • More empathetic marketing is being achieved due to greater data and personalisation
  • Marketers are doubling down turning trusted customer relationships into business value

The first theme is something which this publication has previously explored in depth – the combination of data-savviness and human intuition to make a great marketer. As a result, the survey found a wide range and acceptance of skills. Three in five (60%) polled rated their team’s communication skills as advanced, with creativity (58%), data analysis (57%) and collaboration (56%) all featuring strongly.

This does mean, however, that organisations can still do better. The report notes marketers’ aim to become more connected with their customers, but also the need to become more connected with sales teams. 69% of customers say they expect connected experience, according to Salesforce research from 2019, while seven in 10 (79%) marketers use the same CRM system as sales and service departments.

78% of marketers described their customer engagement as data-driven. Yet few marketers overall are entirely satisfied with their customer data, although high-performing marketers are far more satisifed with their data on multiple fronts. The situation hasn’t changed from 2018 in terms of unified CRM, with no clear provider emerging.

Marketers are turning to even more complex combination of data management platforms to build a cohesive understanding of their customers. As the report notes, this is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. 84% of marketers polled are using it this year, compared with just 29% in 2018. Again, high performers (70%) are far more likely to have a defined AI strategy compared with lower performers (35%).

Speaking exclusively to MarketingTech earlier this month, Ashling Kearns, VP EMEA marketing at Salesforce, explained the rationale for marketing departments using AI, and how the CMO can manage it.

“Marketing will need to work closely with the IT department, and C-suite for funding, to ensure they’ve got the tools to make AI a success,” said Kearns. “To get themselves heard, there needs to be a mindset shift where marketing is no longer viewed as a ‘support service’ to the rest of the business, but instead a business partner. Being the leaders in realising the benefits AI can bring to an organisation, there’s a huge opportunity for the CMO to be at the centre of business transformation, as companies of all kinds pivot towards the customer.”

One of the more interesting data points from the report focused on how marketers were changing their KPIs. While still the most popular, all-encompassing measures, such as revenue, and sales effectiveness, are less popular today than in 2018. In contrast, areas such as web and mobile analytics, digital engagement rates and social analytics, climbed on average 5%.

Marketers are ‘increasingly embracing customer satisfaction metrics, as well as associated signs of success such as referral rates and customer lifetime value’, the report said.

This ties together in a strategic sense around emerging technologies, as Kearns also noted. “To get the best out of data-driven marketing teams, you can’t lead with the kind of target-driven approach that would work for sales – marketing is balancing the short-term with the long-term,” she said. “As such, marketing leaders need to give people the space and creative freedom to explore AI as a new tool at their disposal.”

You can find out more and download the report by visiting the Salesforce blog here.

Read more: Q&A: Ashling Kearns, VP EMEA marketing, Salesforce: Why AI can help marketers now

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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