2018 Marketing ‘Prerequisites for Success’

The Adobe 2018 Digital Trends report was recently released and it gave its readers some interesting insights into this year’s top marketing priorities around data, design, and technology.

The report, which consisted of close to 13,000 participants from various industries including retail, e-commerce and the marketing agency sector, revealed the trends that distinguished the top-performing companies from the rest. 

The trends identified as ‘prerequisites for success’ included an investment in integration technology to enable data-driven marketing, a cross-team approach, upskilling employees, recognition of the value of design, and a renewed focus on search marketing.

1. Data-driven marketing

It’s official, data-driven marketing is so hot right now.

Survey participants across various countries and companies said that optimizing the customer experience and data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual were their most exciting opportunities in 2018.

Companies are increasingly realizing the importance of using data-driven marketing. For retailers, the aim of the game is no longer about acquiring as many customers as possible. Instead they are placing more emphasis on how to reach high value customers, retain them, delight them and grow their lifetime value. Due to the changing retail environment, it’s much easier to lose a customer these days. Data-driven marketing helps allow for seamless and consistent personalization, and helps identify key opportunities for customer engagement and increase high value conversions.

Although data-driven marketing is listed as a top priority, according to the survey 41% said having access and control over customer and marketing application data was the most difficult to master.

This is not surprising and is something we hear at Custora time and time again. Most marketing databases have no issue storing data; however, for many companies, the challenge is knowing how to extract the important customer insights within that data and connecting this information into marketing applications. This is essential in order to create compelling, personalized, and real-time experiences. To transform data insights into a customer-centric marketing approach, companies need to be equipped with the right skills and a cross-team approach.

2. Cross-team approach

Organizations can overcome the lack of data access and control with an efficient cross-team collaboration between their CRM or data management teams and marketing, so data insights are up-to-date and delivered to the marketing team within a timely manner to ensure there are no missed opportunities. According to the Adobe survey, organizations with a cross-team approach are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).

McKinsey further explores the notion of driving business results with cross-team ‘war rooms’, consisting of carefully selected people, including a campaign manager and staff from creative, digital media, analytics, operations, and IT.

However, if your teams have conflicting priorities, or the data is taking too long to become available to marketing, then you can invest in third-party technology companies to take the leg work out of extracting data insights. So, there are other options, my marketing Jedi. Need not you to master data, Custora master data for you.

3. Upskilling Employees

The key to optimizing the customer experience is effective use of data. But in this frequently changing sector, this kind of individualized data-driven marketing can be difficult even for today’s savviest marketer. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a key to success is the investment in employees.

Companies need to ensure their teams have the required skill set to apply analytical thinking to new technology. However, despite the fact that 73% of all participants agree that they are combining digital marketing skills with technology, in reality only 23% of the mainstream companies invested in digital skills and training last year, compared to 45% of the outperforming companies.  

Phil Irvine, Director of CRM at The Bouqs says “Because of this evolution with technology and data starting to influence marketing strategies and tactics at every lifecycle stage, this points to the huge importance of understanding more of the analytics and quantitative side with marketing.”

Irvine advises the next generation of marketers “become familiar with common metrics to understand concepts like marketing spend tolerance, post campaign measurement, and how to determine return on investment/ad spend. Knowledge of these terms and comfortability with speaking to these concepts will become even more important as new automation type technologies emerge in the marketplace.”

4. The ‘Design-Driven’ Approach

Top performing companies are recognizing the importance of design to differentiate their brands against the competition. The Adobe report cites that organizations describing themselves as ‘design-driven’ are 69% more likely than their peers to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (22% vs. 13%).

Michael Krueger, VP of Marketing at One Kings Lane told Custora, “Media and creative cannot be separate. You have to understand what’s possible in the media to develop a creative plan that goes with that. Because we’re now telling a story over time. It’s easy to tell a story in a 30 second TV spot; it’s much harder to tell a story in a Facebook ad here followed by a piece of content two months later. The two need to come together so you can figure out how to tell a story in snippets over time.”

5. The PPC Comeback

With data-driven marketing, companies can reap the benefits of a more rigorous and scientific approach of communicating with customers and can increase ROI across marketing channels. This also includes paid advertising, which according to the report, has regained noticeable traction particularly in the states. 43% of North American respondents said they are putting more money on the PPC table in 2018.

Despite the huge range of platforms and marketing channels available, paid search marketing has made a comeback. This is most likely the result of platforms like Google and LiveRamp recognizing the customer-centric trend and pouring resources into custom match and audience attribution tools.

Henry Ferris,the Director of Marketing at VENUS Fashion, has seen the benefits of this. He told Custora, “As primarily an online retailer, it has been important for us to constantly improve our online ad targeting. Currently we are leveraging data to better target ads to both current and prospective customers with partners such as Google and Facebook with positive results.”

If increasing your investment in paid advertising is also on your marketing agenda this year, then you may want to start with a deeper knowledge of how to leverage these tools for a better ROAS. We recently explored this topic in our latest webinar with CPC Strategy, which provides you with actionable strategies to understand attribution and audience tools, and equips you with various ways to effectively measure your impact across various channels.  

Final thoughts...

It makes sense that this specific combination of trends is a recipe for success. You can also use the Adobe 2018 Digital Trends report to see how your marketing priorities measure against the rest. However, it is clear the leaders of the pack are taking longer strides towards exceeding their business goals by prioritizing their investments in marketing integration tools, staff training and collaboration, and adopting a customer-centric approach to their messaging and creative plans.  


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