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In Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing report, the company asked marketers about the trends, challenges, and focus of their work. One of the newer business drivers is innovation.

Almost 7000 marketers worldwide were surveyed for the report (source: Salesforce). The top priority of all marketers* is currently ‚innovation‘.

But what can be understood by innovation?

For marketers, there is potential for innovation in all areas, and not just in the form of creative content. It also refers to the way in which marketers use channels (both analog and digital) to address customers and leads and thereby increase engagement. As new trends are very quickly picked up and duplicated across industries, this is a special challenge in the age of information. It is not always easy to leave an impression with the amount of advertisements, posts and messages customers and leads face each day.

Another area of innovation lies in the use of existing tools and resources in the most efficient and scalable way possible and with the highest possible profit. Innovation means: to create something extraordinary out of the things you have, whether it’s the unusual use of systems and applications or the development of customer campaigns with only a few resources.

The right data supports innovation

A necessary basis for innovative methods, projects and campaigns is information. This makes it all the more important to have an overview of all the necessary data, which is also collected in service and sales, for example. Central data access to customer data, but also to KPIs from other business units can help to steer innovative ideas in the right direction in regards to the overall company goals.

According to the report, this is already reality for the majority of marketing departments. Around 80 % share their goals and metrics with sales and service and also with their commerce colleagues. Compared to last year, marketers now use more data sources to learn more about customers (10 vs. 8 sources). Furthermore, not only customer interests and digital customer profiles are used for marketing campaigns but also transactional and even anonymized data.

However, data quality is also one of the biggest challenges. High performers in marketing are more satisfied with their performance in

  • Data Quality
  • Speed of Data Reception
  • Data Integration
  • Content Management
  • Merging different digital identities into one profile (e.g. in the case of different e-mail addresses, the merging of online profiles with telephone numbers, etc.).

Data Quality Assessment helps your database with a proper „spring cleaning“. Gain more transparency, data security and the best possible use of your data.

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Marketers use an average of six different data management tools, twice as many as in 2018. The most popular tools include CRM platforms, e-mail service providers, advertising platforms, data management platforms, customer data platforms, and marketing automation platforms (weirdly, only placed 6th in the overall ranking).

KPIs set the direction

With the right tools available, marketers can increasingly measure their own impact within the company. Values for various digital channels (social media, mobile, etc.), engagement rates and conversion rates have therefore increased in relevance over the past year.

  • Web/Mobile Analytics (62%)
  • (Digital) Engagement (59%)
  • Social Analytics (58%)
  • Marketing Leads (58%)

The report also shows that marketers take various company-wide metrics into account. In addition to revenue, the most important metric overall, marketing looks at sales metrics, customer satisfaction values, retention values and lifetime customer value (to varying degrees).

  • Turnover (70%)
  • Sales Effectiveness (65%)
  • Customer satisfaction (62%)
  • Retention (61%)
  • Lifetime Customer Value (48%)

Especially the return of investment has increased in importance for channels and campaigns in order to make clear statements about budget and resource priorities.

AI promotes targeted creativity

Artificial intelligence and other analytics methods play an increasing role in marketing. Especially in the field of customer personalization, AI has become widely accepted in recent years. But AI also generates know-how. Already, forecasting tools are frequently used in sales to calculate estimates of developments and set targets based on these estimates. Marketers can also benefit from this to align their campaigns and plans.

Furthermore, insights into customer behaviour via AI can strengthen innovative approaches. Predictive analytics can segment customers much more precisely and generate content/product recommendations. The „Next Best Product/Content/Campaign“ format can be used in a variety of ways to suggest exactly the content, products and events to which each customer is most likely to respond positively to.

In the end, it’s up to marketers how they make use of the many uses of AI. Due to the large number of tools offered by CRM and marketing automation systems, there is no lack in opportunity. Instead, marketers face an overwhelming amount of choices that makes it hard to prioritize. This is exactly where the exchange with other business units pays off: The more precisely marketing knows the goals and activities of sales, service, commerce, etc., the easier it is to plan accordingly, whether it’s in the choice of tools, campaigns, etc.

Think innovation holistically

For customers, an experience is not tied to a specific phase or business unit. They perceive their journey as a whole. Similarly, marketers can and should approach their strategy when developing innovative ideas.

  • Where can added value be created for the customer?
  • What pain points does the customer have?
  • How can marketing support customer experiences that are driven by other business units?

These and more questions put the customer experience in the foreground and thus enable cooperative measures and strategies within the company that go beyond departmental boundaries to create real added value.