We live in unprecedented times.
This is a new normal.
These times represent a great reset.
The market is rife with uncertainty.
The great resignation and quiet quitting are making it difficult to retain talent.
All the above statements are true. Things seem to be moving faster, now. Technology is advancing at an accelerated pace. Customers are becoming more connected and thoughtful in their considerations. Values are taking a front seat in decision-making and brand relationships. As a result, businesses cannot afford to lean on legacy approaches to business change, customer engagement, IT, or branding. Nor can companies settle so quickly for a new or next normal. We now live in a Novel Economy, a time when leaning on past assumptions, checklists, and playbooks will only impede your opportunity to rise to the unique opportunities inherent in this CTRL-ALT-DEL moment. The question executives must ask is, do we reboot as a digital version of our past self, or do we upgrade for performance, relevance, and agility?
To compete in this novel economy, companies need to move faster, innovate, and understand and even anticipate the unique needs and expectations of the people who shape their markets. That’s where meaningful change should always begin, by understanding how to do and be better for stakeholders, customers, partners, the planet, and people in general.
According to a new Salesforce report, the “State of Marketing,” companies are organizing on four fronts: 1) Evolving in the face of uncertainty, 2) preparing for the retirement of third-party cookies, which will make understanding customers difficult, 3) removing silos to optimize data and insights and enhance the customer experience, and 4) innovating to meet changing customer needs.
It appears that marketing is rising to the occasion with 87% of marketers saying their work provides greater value now than it did a year ago.
As Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Franklin observed, it’s “a time of tremendous transformation that requires us to reimagine how we connect with customers and personalize every interaction; achieve our budget and business goals in an uncertain economic environment; and lead with our values to help shape a better, more equitable and sustainable future.”
She’s not alone. Salesforce research found that 91% of CMOs say they must continually innovate to remain competitive.
Meaningful Change Starts with Trust
To connect the dots and build new bridges between brand, business value, and customers, the challenges are not insignificant. Resources are limited. Supply chains are strained. Budgets are tightening. Macroeconomic uncertainty is pervasive. To make meaningful strides, marketers have to get back to basics.
In a separate report, the “State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce learned that 88% of customers believe that trust becomes more important in times of change. CMOs are specifically focusing here with “building trust” ranking in their top three priorities. Building and retaining trust with customers was also cited as their #4 top challenge.
Marketers Prioritize Tools and Innovation to Rise to the Occasion
According to Salesforce’s “State of Marketing” research, marketers are focusing on getting the most out of their technology and resource investments. Limited or unoptimized use of tools and technologies ranks as a marketers’ top challenge and priority.
In this novel economy, consumer preferences are changing, buying behaviors are shifting, and customer expectations are rising. Marketers are future-focused, listing “experimenting with new marketing strategies” as their #2 priority.
New Business Strategies Center on Digital-First Modernization and Innovation
Marketers are helping to lead business strategy shifts by focusing on growth opportunities and improving customer relationships.
Marketers report that they are finding success by unlocking new customer segments. They’re also investing in digital-first experiences for digital-first customers. As a result this is driving businesses to also make changes to their business models, expand product offerings and geographical targets, and transform how they work.
Collaboration technologies and process/workflow automation is bringing distributed teams closer together while also freeing up talent to focus on more creative work. This underscores the importance of boosting productivity, efficiency, and creativity. More so, these investments are viewed as long-term or permanent strategy shifts.
Enhancing Customer Relationships by Placing Data and Insights at the Center of the Digital Enterprise
According to recent research, 56% of customers expect offers to always be personalized, no matter the channel. And CMOs cite customer expectations as the number one influence on digital strategy.
With trust at the top of what customer are seeking from companies, authentic, personalized, and relevant engagement becomes paramount. Data serves as the heart of this transformation with actionable insights redefining the meaning of best-in-class customer engagement. Marketers aim to break down silos by unifying data efficiently to build relationships across the customer lifecycle.
Brands are increasingly using digital tools, CRM systems, and AI to create unique customer profiles, automate data-driven campaigns, and deliver personalized and scalable customer experiences.
To meet customer’s expectations around their definition of personalization, i.e. “know me!,” companies must continue to prioritize customer-centered operational transformation.
In addition to transaction data and known digital identities, 75% of marketers still use third-party data such as device identifiers and cookies from aggregators or data brokers. Sixty-eight percent say they already have a fully-defined strategy to shift toward first-party and zero-party data. And, more than half of marketers are providing information-sharing incentives for customers (56%) and investing in new technologies like customer data platforms (51%) to enrich customer data profiles without third-party cookies.
According to the 2021 Gartner “Cross-Functional Customer Data Survey,” just 14% of organizations have a 360-degree view of their customer. And among those who have achieved it, 44% of say their 360-degree view is located in a customer data platform.
The Value of Values is Soaring
For today’s consumers, products and services are only part of what matters to them. As customers try to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world, values and integrity top the list, in addition to trust, of what’s important in their decision-making and brand relationships. Eighty-eight percent of customers expect companies to clearly state their values.
For those companies that don’t lead with values or reconsider them, they may pay the ultimate price. Research uncovered that 66% of customers stopped buying from a company whose values didn’t align with theirs.
Leading companies are not only listening, they’re making their business a real platform for change. Ninety-three percent of high-performing marketers say their external messaging reflects their corporate values, compared to 70% of their underperforming competition.
Marketers are Exploring Future Frontiers
If we learned anything at the onset of this novel economy, it’s that digital transformation is a constant. With marketers ranking “experimenting with new marketing strategies and tactics” as their second highest priority, it makes sense that tomorrow’s digital trends should find a place on today’s radar screens. Digital trends defining the next web, such as virtual/augmented products, AR and VR, cryptocurrency, NFTs, the metaverse, and web3, are at the top of the experimentation list.
For example, 51% of marketers reported already having a strategy for Web3. And the top elements of web3 strategies are focused on virtual products, VR/AR, and cryptocurrencies.
What Gets Measured in Real-Time Defines How a Company Competes and Succeeds in a Digital-First World
With marketers playing a bigger role in business transformation and innovation, KPIs are shifting to account for real-time intelligence.
Marketers are increasingly investing in real-time analytics to get an accurate view of the impact of their messages, campaigns, and marketing spend. The faster they get at achieving these insights, the faster they can respond to customer needs and expectations. The goal is to make informed decisions, deliver personal and relevant customer engagement, and drive business growth at speed and scale.
Compared to 61% of underperforming marketers, nearly three-quarters (72%) of high-performing marketers can analyze marketing performance in real time. This gives real-time organizations a competitive advantage when it comes to responding to and optimizing campaign performance. And believe it or not, one third (33%) of marketers report that their marketing attribution is a manual process.
Tracking the right metrics in a novel economy is a business imperative. As marketing budgets scrutinized, analytics provide leaders with the insight they need to optimize spend, lower acquisition costs, and improve the accuracy value of marketing.
In addition to traditional metrics, marketers are now tracking KPIs that align with business performance. Revenue, customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer lifetime are at the top of metrics high performing marketers track. But marketers also cite measuring marketing ROI/attribution as their number two challenge, which means there’s still work to be done.
Investing in an Innovative Marketing Organization Future-Proofs the Business
What’s clear is that market dynamics and new technologies are changing the way businesses build relationships with customers.
The novel economy is going to continue to unfold against a backdrop of constant change. As times, trends, tastes, and technologies continue to shift, marketers can help steer businesses closer to customers, deliver more of what matters to them in ways that are relevant, intuitive, and personal, and use next-generation technologies to help companies innovate and compete.