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Marketers must embark on a 'customer journey' across all channels, Salesforce survey says


By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

April 11, 2016 | 7 min read

Salesforce has released a report that has encompassed B2C, B2B and B2B2C marketers, and discovered that 88 per cent of top marketing teams believe the customer journey to be critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy.

The 'customer journey' today is defined as all interactions that customers' have with a company's brand, product or services across all touch points and channels. For those who have implemented customer journeys, more than 73 per cent agree it has had a positive impact on their business.

The Salesforce report also suggests that tried and true email marketing is a core strategy, as is social media marketing, mobile marketing and paid advertising across social channels.

"Marketing keeps evolving, because customers demand it. It takes a genuine intention to truly understand your customer, a commitment to marketing intelligence and relentless dedication to true personalization, to deliver on that expectation," noted Maggie Lang, senior director of marketing at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the report.

Another key insight was that 68 per cent of high performing marketing teams across B2B and B2C are leading customer experience initiatives across their business. Too often, touch points have been ongoing outside of marketing or sales and now more than ever top marketers are knocking down the silos to unify the experience more between sales, customer service and marketing. Most are implementing digital transformations across the company.

Collaboration and bridging the gap is seen by 63 per cent of marketers to be the key, and top performers are working to bring together marketing, sales, service, IT and other executives. Further, high-performing marketing leaders are 17 times more likely than under performers to be excellent at working with other business units. Not only is collaboration key, but also 64 per cent of high performing marketers are more likely to move beyond barriers and now better understand the single view of the customer. In fact, high performers are 34 times more likely than under performers to say they are excellent at creating personalized omni-channel customer experiences across all business units and are three times more likely to rely on CRM tools extensively, giving marketing, sales and service teams that all important single view of the customer.

Getting smart with tech adoption is also an ongoing priority for marketers, with 72 per cent of top teams increasing their spending on marketing tools and tech within the next two years, and within this group 48 per cent will increase spending substantially. Further, top marketing teams use more than twice the number of tools and technologies that under performers use.

"With the new eCRM technology and tools available to companies today, it's easier for marketers to focus on one of the most important aspects of the business - the customer. We can now begin to provide an eCRM customer experience that's in line with what the customer wants," Bernie Fussenegger, director, digital marketing for Papa Johns in the report.

One of the biggest factors for success is whether or not the executive team is committed to the overall marketing strategy. Having support from the top exists with 83 per cent of high performing marketers today who are two times more likely to succeed than marketers who do not have that crucial support.

Additionally, successful marketers are three times more likely to spend on digital marketing and two times more likely to spend on marketing tools and technology than under performers. Further, among high performers who have integrated their digital marketing channels with their overall marketing, at least 95 per cent of the integrations are rated as effective or very effective.

The report also notes that from 2015 to 2016, there has been 98 per cent growth in mobile app usage and 111 per cent growth in SMS usage, with a majority of marketers now using these mainstream mobile tactics to engage customers. This year's survey also asked marketers about multimedia messaging services (MMS) and mobile app inboxes for the first time. The survey notes that 52 per cent of marketers are currently using MMS and 17 per cent plan to pilot this year.

Further, mobile ROI has soared this year for smart marketers. In fact, 69 per cent of the marketing leaders agree that mobile marketing - including SMS, push notifications, mobile apps or location based functionality is core to their business. Among this group, 50 per cent say it is directly linked to their business' primary revenue source. Another 77 per cent say mobile generates ROI, compared to only 31 per cent of marketers who agreed in 2015. Tracking, creating and measuring mobile efforts is also very important with 83 per cent of high performers tracking mobile analytics for mobile apps as well as mobile versus desktop website navigation.

Emails, a tried and true marketing method, are enjoying a fresh wave of marketing personalization with top teams four times more likely than under performers to leverage predictive intelligence or data science to create personalized emails. Gaining a deeper, behavior-based understanding of customers allows marketers to be smarter in creating next steps, the study suggests. Additionally, while 54 per cent of marketers said email directly generated ROI in 2015, that percentage rose to 79 per cent in 2016. Among those who agree email is core to their business, nearly half (49 per cent) say email is directly linked to their business' primary revenue source - a notable jump from 20 per cent of marketers who said the same in 2015.

"More than ever, marketers need the right tools that will enable them to send highly targeted, dynamic messages to their audiences. If you aren't moving in that direction, it will be increasingly difficult to create relevant and impactful marketing," said Stephanie Solomon, vice president, consumer marketing and revenue, at Time, Inc. in the report.

Another area of solid growth and one of the top areas where marketers plan to increase their spending involves social outlets. The study shows that 82 per cent of marketers agree that social media marketing is key to their business. The link between social marketing and revenue increased three times over the last year, with nearly half (48 per cent) of marketers reporting that social media marketing is directly linked to their business' primary revenue source. In fact, marketers who are high performers are 11 times more likely to be excellent at responding to social interactions in a timely manner. Top teams do understand the need for real-time communication and engagement on social channels. The most successful marketers excel at replying in a timely manner across all social networks.

"Listening is the foundation of everything we do. It's truly about engaging with every fan, building relationships, and looking at it as more than just a one off interaction. We believe that about 75 per cent of our customers touch social at some point in their journey," Jessica Latimer, senior manager, social media and customer engagement at Alex and Ani.

Content marketing is also an integral part of the marketing strategy with powerhouse channels like email and social fueled by content. Among marketers who agree content marketing is core to their business, 48 per cent see a direct link to primary revenue and 77 per cent agree that content marketing is core to business.

Finally, advertising on social platforms is the third largest area for increased investment. Among high performing marketing teams, 80 per cent will increase spending on advertising on social platforms. It is also the most popular digital advertising strategy, with 65 per cent of marketers currently using and another 17 per cent planning to use it this year. Not only are advertising budgets heading for social, but 91 per cent of those surveyed say they use data to target or segment advertising.

Time Inc Marketing Papa John's

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