Much has changed since the inaugural Mood of Marketing report. Looking back, it’s clear 2017 captured an industry on the cusp of real change, with disruption, connection, and commoditisation behind three marketing trends.
Mood of Marketing 2017 and the headline trends
Firstly, as customers embraced new technologies, data-driven marketing was no longer “over the horizon”. It was very much here. As customers flocked to new technologies a flood of data was unleashed, forcing marketers to embrace new techniques and learn new skills. It’s worth noting the impact this had on team structures. By 2017 data was starting to challenge marketing leaders’ approach to resource, kicking off what we now know as a skills shortage.
On the upside, marketers led their organisations’ response to the growing threat of international competitors, smart start-ups, and far sighted local organisations. Empowered by data’s ability to prove ROI, marketers assumed higher profiles in their businesses, with more input and more budget. And they used that budget smartly, committing to early stage marketing technology, creating a virtuous cycle between customer, marketing, technology and data.
Finally, with that cycle came the elevation of customer. Businesses began to consider the customer in their decisions, using data to find ways to put appropriate offers in front of them. As the traditional voice of customer in the business, this was an opportunity for marketers to shine.
So how different is this to 2017? And what’s behind the subtle change?
Data-driven customer engagement
The first obvious point is data and how organisations now approach it. Two years ago data delivered proof of ROI and effectiveness to the business, a way of proving marketing’s value at a leadership level. As far as providing customer insights, data was generally used to power simple functional offers, with short term acquisition offers the most common.
In 2019 the role of data has changed. Successful organisations now use data to build a more nuanced view of customer needs, bringing the customer deeper into the organisation. Short term acquisition offers are becoming far less valuable, and data is now more likely to support loyalty or brand equity plays.
Customer-centric strategies and the rise of personalised CX
As organisations learn more about their customers through data, they are changing their strategies. Two years ago top and bottom line growth was the main way organisations measured their marketing impact. In 2019 it’s not even in the top three, replaced by brand equity, digital engagement KPIs and customer retention. This is a major shift, showing businesses now take a long view of success, focussing on customer satisfaction and experience, understanding the power of retention in a high churn environment.
Data is also driving another significant shift in 2019. Successful businesses are committing to enriched and valuable customer experiences, underpinned by data. While an overwhelming percentage of marketers believe data-driven, personalised customer experiences will have the biggest impact in marketing in the next couple of years, over half report it’s also their biggest challenge. But this is almost 20% less likely to be an issue in growing companies - these guys have already cracked it, meaning they are already stealing a march on organisations slower or less able to adapt to the changing opportunities presented by data.
The growing commitment to customer experience shines through in another shift from 2017 to 2019. Customer and customer experience are the two areas showing the highest growth when looking at ways organisations use data and marketing analytics. Using data to model loyalty and NPS has increased by almost 28% since 2017. And while sentiment analysis didn’t even make 2017’s report, fast forward to 2019 and it’s in the top ten.
The focus on customer experience is having a real impact on marketing teams and their capability. Behind marketing automation, customer experience is the most in-demand skill for marketers in 2019, up by over 10% on 2017. And while demand for data analysts capable of underpinning real time engagement has actually declined since 2017, noticeably growth organisations are bucking this trend.
It’s a great time to be a marketer
So we’ve seen a real shift in the last two years, driven by a maturing view of data. As the technology and skills around data develop, savvy marketing teams are using it to drive better customer engagement, taking their organisations from short term acquisition activity across to longer term retention plays. The rise of personalised, data-driven customer experiences is creating closer bonds between brands and their consumers, with marketers taking the lead. Change may be occurring, but for marketers this renewed focus on brand and the customer is opening up new worlds of opportunity.