Customers overwhelmingly say they want to be treated like a person with four out of five saying the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Little wonder then that the 2019 global Salesforce State of Marketing study of 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide found that for the first time the top marketing challenge and the top marketing priority are the same; engaging with customers in real time.

And yet many companies are still struggling to meet expectations of their customers or to even align their various marketing activities in a way that allows this to happen.

The study results reveal a widening gap between leaders and laggards. The study defines high performers as the top 16 per cent who say they are completely satisfied with their overall marketing performance and the outcomes of their marketing investments. Laggards — or underperformers in the lexicon of the report — are the bottom 15 per cent who are moderately or less satisfied with their overall marketing performance and the outcomes of their marketing investments.

With about a third of respondents coming from APAC, including seven per cent of the total sample drawn from Australia/NZ, we can also dive into some local insights.

For instance, in Australia, the typical number of channels a marketer deals with has grown 50 per cent since 2017, from 10 to 15.

But one of the more compelling sections of the report relates to efforts by brands to build real-time engagement.

According to Derek Laney, Head of Solutions & Product Marketing, Asia Pacific for Salesforce who spoke on a Which-50 panel earlier this year describing the results of the study, marketer’s have been evolving their approaches to cross-channel and journey-based marketing for some time.

However, they are having mixed success.

According to Laney, “Only 28 per cent of marketer’s are completely satisfied with their ability to engage customers across channels at scale.”

The study found that while 52 per cent of marketers engage customers in real time across one or more marketing channels there is a significant gap between leaders and laggards with high performers almost twice as likely as under achievers ( (62 per cent to 33 per cent) to engage customers in real time across one or more channels. And only a small majority of marketers indicated they adapt their marketing strategy and tactics based on customer interactions.

According to the study’s authors, “Only about a third of markets are able to dynamically evolve their messaging across channels based on customer actions.”

More commonly they simply duplicate messages across channels, or worse those channels are siloed and there is no coordination across the channels.

Once again this is another area where high performers leave the laggards behind. 36 per cent of high-performing marketers dynamically coordinate channels, on average compared to 26 per cent of underperformers.

In some areas, such as paid search and mobile messaging, siloed approaches with no coordination are more common than dynamic ones, most likely influenced by, and reflecting the role of agencies and external partners in these channels.

ANZ Results

The upside to the message Down Under is that 88 per cent of ANZ respondents say marketing and advertising have integrated technology stacks, which gets them a long way towards having the basic infrastructure they need to engage their customers in real time.

However, the problem is that a much smaller number — only 46 per cent — report having a completely unified 
view of customer data sources. This might help explain why most ANZ marketers say they do not engage customers in real time across one or more marketing channels.

More (32 per cent) also admit to taking a siloed approach to channels than those (28 per cent) Aussies who say their approach is dynamic.

The problem is not just technological but also cultural. The authors reveal that goal alignment needs a lot of work with half or more of those surveyed in ANZ saying they do not share common goals and metrics with commerce, sales or service teams.

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