We delve into the data and lean on expert opinion to highlight the topics that look set to rule the marketing leader’s to-do list over the next 12 months.
Artificial intelligence and GDPR dominated many a marketing discussion in 2018, and with good reason.
But while both topics will continue to be at the forefront of most marketers’ minds, what other trends look set to be as influential over the coming 12 months? We spoke to a number of industry experts and analysed some key stats to predict where some of the most important opportunities and challenges lie.
Marketers to lead CX collaboration
Salesforce's new State of Marketing report highlights some significant trends emerging in the marketing discipline, but perhaps the most pertinent is that marketers are determined to take ownership of customer experience in their organisation.
This is not a new trend – in a CMO report in late 2017, Forrester highlighted that the share of global marketing decision-makers who say their department has primary responsibility for their organisation’s CX had grown from 31% to 38%, with a continuation of this uptick expected into 2019 and beyond.
The difference, in the coming 12 months, is that marketers will be under increasing pressure to meet cross-channel expectations from both their board and their customers, meaning a year of greater collaboration with other departments in order to enhance their channel marketing credentials and ultimately, the customer experience.
On average, only 32% of marketers engage dynamically across separate channels – 39% of marketers duplicate messages across channels, while 29% describe different channels as completely siloed and uncoordinated.
However, marketers are seemingly heeding the call to improve this position through collaboration. Sharing metrics with sales teams has grown by 21% since 2017, according to the State of Marketing report, and in 2019 the role of marketer as the conduit between other departments is expected to increase too – all in the aid of enhancing customer experience.
In the coming 12 months, marketers will be under increasing pressure to meet cross-channel expectations
Emotion data to reign supreme
95% of our purchase decisions take place unconsciously, according to research from Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman.
Understanding the emotions customers feel during the course of their relationship with a brand, and its products and services, is becoming a major differentiator for businesses. TTEC’s director of customer insights, Peter Dorrington, explained why in a MyCustomer interview last year:
"We’ve moved down a path to determine how to operationalise emotion, putting core insights on emotion into practices as we design, build and operate elements of the customer experience. This is not a prediction of how the customer will feel in the future; instead, it is an explanation of what they are likely to do as a result of feeling that way."
Despite this, our ability to interpret and act on insight around emotions remains hampered, something that many marketers will be expected to resolve in 2019.
“Leaders are drowning in operational data-—”pure observations”—that can’t always tell the full story,” says Zander Lurie, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, who recently conducted research into how people felt about brands.
“63% of consumers think marketers are selling them things they don’t need. Listening to customers is more important than ever to support marketing efforts and priorities. You’ve got to ask the right questions, understand the data, and take action. Otherwise, your business will be disrupted by a competitor who’s more attuned to the emotional state of your customers.”
Dorrington believes many marketers are on the cusp of being able to deliver on this mandate.
“Savvy marketers are upping the ante by harnessing greater data insights and analytics tools.
“There are now ways to better connect with customers using algorithms that identify the underlying emotions in text and speech and convert those insights into action.
“For example, an automotive client wanted to understand why some customers used their authorised network for servicing their cars and why others did not.
“Using emotion analytics on free-text customer narratives, underlying customer emotions behind the comments were identified and quantified. A direct link was established between three key variables (one of which was a core emotion) and the customers’ likelihood to have their vehicle serviced at that dealer again. The model also showed at what point it was not worthwhile trying to improve the customer’s attitude.”
Richer insights of this nature are a key component driving the marketer’s need to get to grips with their customers’ emotions in the coming 12 months.
Marketing spend to increase
Much has been made about the pessimistic approach to 2019 among business leaders, specifically in the UK and US where the political tumult is forecast to have a negative impact on the two countries’ respective economies over the next year.
Yet research from MHR Analytics suggests, in the UK at least, many businesses will still be increasing their marketing spend through the course of the year ahead.
MHR polled business leaders from medium and large-sized businesses and found that 49% were planning to scale up their marketing spend in 2019. It also found that 46% of respondents are planning to increase their sales budgets.
Alongside artificial intelligence, data is inevitably one of the primary reasons for businesses allocating more money to their marketing departments in 2019. Less than 30% of customers opted in to receive email marketing from brands during the GDPR deluge of May 2018, and many marketers are now seemingly being given the capacity to spend more to entice those lapsed customers back.
“The results are no surprise given the unparalleled changes in both consumer spending and digital transformation we have witnessed in a very short space of time,” says Nick Felton, SVP at MHR Analytics.
“Retailers for example have had a particularly challenging year in 2018, brought about by changes in consumer behaviour, technology and buying trends.
“An increase in marketing is proven to increase your customer base and therefore improve profits, but only if marketing and sales activities are properly analysed and based on sound data about what works and what doesn’t, and what is worth the investment.”
Many marketers are now seemingly being given the capacity to spend more to entice those lapsed customers back.
Pressure is on to take a stand
2018 saw Nike voted as Ad Age’s marketer of the year. Based on its ad campaign with NFL star, Colin Kaepernick, the sports brand pinned its flag to the mast of a deeply contentious social issue it may have once been more content to remain agnostic on.
It wasn’t the only brand to do this. In the UK, supermarket chain Iceland created a similar stir with its Rang-tan palm oil campaign that led to adverts being banned for their overtly political leaning.
Both brand stories represent a trend that is likely to gather further momentum in 2019 – brand marketing that takes a stand.
“Brands can no longer be passive bystanders on issues that matter to their customers and are highly pertinent to their business,” says Rachel Barton, managing director, Accenture Strategy.
“Staying silent is now equally as risky. Our research found that 46% of UK consumers are attracted to brands that stand up for societal and cultural issues they care about, and nearly a third (31 percent) want brands to take a stand on political issues. Furthermore, almost half now expect company leaders to voice their opinions.”
Consumers are also increasingly willing to boycott brands that fail to take a stand on issues connected to them, with public backlashes influencing shareholders and investors, and a company’s future competitiveness. This doesn’t mean that marketers should be looking to attach their brand to any and every societal issue going in 2019, however.
“As always, authenticity is critical,” adds Barton. “While brands like Nike have pushed the boundaries – which aligns to their ultimate purpose – not every brand has earned the license to do so. Marketers need to think hard about the issues they align their brands with and whether they are truly relevant to their customers and core business. People can see through inauthenticity and won’t tolerate it.”
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.