We are undoubtedly in a period of huge and rapid change in marketing. But according to the “2016 Digital Trends Briefing” published by Econsultancy in association with Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company) it seems that marketers are more aligned than ever about where those changes are happening. The report shows that marketers are focusing on customer experience and the constituent activities that help deliver it.
The key issues facing marketers are becoming more and more complex. The reality is that it has become very difficult to distinguish between marketing and other core business functions when it comes to technology and innovation conversations. This evolving context makes it more important than ever to know what marketers are actually thinking, and is what makes our trends survey so important.
CX Defines Marketers’ Priorities
In 2014, customer experience emerged as one of marketers’ top priorities. In 2015, it dominated that list. Now, in 2016, it has begun to define other priorities. This is the mark of a real trend, a trend you want to follow. It develops from genuine need, then grows until other initiatives are pulled into its orbit. The survey report shows this and in doing so reveals how marketers are starting to define customer experience.
With more than 7,000 professionals participating in the survey, this year’s report really tells the customer experience story. For example, when asked what respondents thought was their single most exciting opportunity, the top three answers were “optimising the customer experience”, “creating compelling content for digital experiences,” and “data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual.”
Understanding The Data Opportunity
Many of the “modern marketing” memes are about areas of business that are driven by, and dependent on, data. Businesses are increasingly recognising that, along with creativity, data has the potential to drive a competitive advantage. Beyond that, they recognise that data is something that needs to be put at the heart of technology, strategy and communications decisions. Data is crucial to customer experience, and intelligent use of data should be underpin any customer interaction, from advertising through to service. In this year’s study, we see that the marketing community understands this opportunity and is working to overcome the obstacles to achieving it.
When asked to identify their strategic priorities for 2016, more organisations chose “data-driven marketing” with their top vote (53%) than any other. That’s a huge majority, but again, when you look at this information in the context of the larger study, it becomes apparent that marketers are prioritising data-driven marketing because of customer experience, not instead of it. Without a mastery of their data, they simply cannot provide the kinds of experiences they aspire to.
In parallel with the evolution of the connected, consistent and collaborative communication required to deliver excellent customer experience, there is clearly a huge challenge about what internal teams, processes and structures are required to deliver the potential of marketing technology.
Workflows And Collaboration
The 2016 edition of the Trends report sees a new emphasis on workflow and collaboration. This is an area that we believe will be getting a great deal of attention as marketing continues its digital maturation. Tools, technologies, and even innovation itself are only as useful as the processes to put them into the field. That means people, teams and companies working together more effectively.
Clearly the respondents agree. Ninety-four percent say that optimising creative workflows will be important in delivering a great customer experience. Further, 91% say the same about the importance of improving collaboration between creative and marketing teams.
The 2016 report is drawn from a bigger audience sample than ever before. This participation shows the degree to which the audience feels these topics are important. Marketing is expanding its remit and converging with other traditionally siloed parts of organisations to write a truly compelling description of how businesses will grow and thrive in the coming years.