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Why innovation should power the marketer’s 2021 planning

Salesforce’s sixth edition of the ‘State of Marketing’ report dives into the trends that will drive clarity in decision-making

While businesses across Asia continue to navigate this challenging period, it’s important for them to see the changing needs of their customers as opportunities to thrive and emerge from this pandemic stronger.

Salesforce’s sixth edition of the ‘State of Marketing’ report dives into the Marketing trends that will drive clarity in decision-making as marketers look to answer the question: what’s next?

The findings of the 2020 report highlight strategic priorities, challenges, and technologies that will transform the marketing industry. The top three Marketing priorities in the Asia Pacific region include innovating, improving the use of tools and technologies, and engaging with customers in real time.

Changing marketing behaviour

As businesses navigate and unlock their potential, the demand for the customer experience and engagement is undergoing a sharp change.

Data from the latest 4th edition Salesforce State of Connected Customer report shows that in Singapore, 93% of buyers say experience is as important as products and services. This figure rose to 95% and 98% in Thailand and the Philippines, respectively.

For Singaporean business buyers, 58% said the distinction between their business and consumer expectations were blurring. Likewise, in Thailand and the Philippines, 40% and 41% said the same. This suggests the quality and consistency of experiences across channels has set a high bar by consumers and brands are expected to meet this.

To reach this growing expectation, customer experiences are being optimised like never before, even as marketers are stretching their horizons. 79% of marketers say they lead customer experience initiatives across their organizations — up from 45% in 2018.

The importance of innovation

Brands are turning to innovation and a focus on customer experience to cope with the challenge of adapting to audiences spending more time online.

Marketers are increasingly turning to a variety of digital channels in addition to established examples like social, email, and display ads. For example, use of mobile apps by marketers has increased 34% since 2018, and use of customer communities has increased by 35%.

Coordination between those digital channels is increasing too, leading to more cohesive customer journeys. 53% of marketers now describe their channel coordination as dynamic — meaning that messages and content on one channel are tailored based on a customers’ actions in another channel, up from 31% in 2018.

Marketers are discovering which channels work best for different stages of the customer journey, such as websites, influencers, and social play leading roles. Customer communities are most prized for customer retention and advocacy purposes.

Keeping up with variety and finding cohesion between channels has put pressure on brands to evolve their media optimisation at great speed. To solve this, brands are looking to innovate to help them.

"I am not surprised that innovation has come to the top of the list, "said Jess O'Reilly, Area Vice President, ASEAN Cloud Sales, Salesforce. "Crisis-born-innovation across all businesses in response to the pandemic has been the new way of survival. And as marketers, that's no different. With physical events on the decline, and in-person activities limited, innovation is vital to find new ways to engage with customers."

Improving tools and technology

For marketers, providing enhanced customer experiences and keeping up with consumers’ digital habits implies a need to increase attention on data. Data is critical to pivot marketing strategies and create compelling campaigns, content, and offers that are going to work well in a socially-distanced world.

Through the pandemic, effective use of customer data sets the stage for empathetic marketing. According to the report, 78% of marketers describe their customer engagement as data-driven.

However, data on its own is not not enough, and markets are increasingly looking for smart ways to put data to work and better listen and engage with consumers. AI is increasingly integral in obtaining and applying deep insights to engage on a 1-to-1 level. As people experience challenges individually, a 1-to-1 and empathetic approach is needed, but this requires data. In fact, marketers now use an average of 10 data management tools, and are expected to be using as many as 12 next year.

Beyond just extracting insights, marketers need to apply them in real-time to engage customers with the right message, at the right time, on the right channel. AI has emerged as a critical tool in this effort. 84% of marketers now report using AI — an increase of 186% since 2018.

As the year has progressed, marketers are now doubling down on business value, in a shift from crisis triage to recovery and adaptation. As marketers reach this focus on business value, the unique opportunity is to focus on creating trusted customer relationships, to create a longer-term recovery strategy.

Staying ahead of the marketing game in 2021

The future may not be easy to predict, but the last few months have ensured a fundamental shift in forcing Marketers to start figuring out how to better connect with customers and deliver what they need, when they need it. As businesses enter the 2021 planning period, it’s more important than ever to deliver innovative Marketing experiences that are meaningful, engaging, and create 1-1 customer connections.

To learn more about the latest Marketing trends and insights, download the Salesforce's 6th edition The State of Marketing report to stay ahead of the marketing game and get ready to give your customers their best experience in 2021. Start the New Year with a clear action plan of the goals and conquer them with high performance.

Salesforce is a global leader in integrated customer relationship management - The world’s most powerful 1:1 digital marketing platform. Marketing Cloud offers solutions for digital marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, customer journey mapping, marketing analytics, marketing automation, and B2B marketing to help you personalize customer communications across every digital touchpoint — from anywhere. Find out more.

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