Great Marketers Track Customers and ROI

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Trend-setting marketers are sophisticated emailers, cross-channel integrators, and digital transformation facilitators, according to a study by Salesforce.

While poring over results from Salesforce's worldwide survey of 4,000-plus marketing leaders, Director of Product Marketing Meghann York was struck with a revelatory insight. “I thought we don't need to call out digital marketing anymore,” she says. “We're not thinking digital and traditional. We're looking at high-performing channels and then seeing how those channels are integrated.”

Salesforce's “State of Marketing” report on the survey presents bold evidence that marketing is no longer about the methods, it's about the money. ROI lives up to the French translation of the acronym: It is king.

Last year fewer than a third of marketers polled by Salesforce were able to identify returns on their investments in social and mobile marketing. This year, a chart-busting three quarters did. But perhaps more indicative of ROI's deeper penetration into marketing mind-sets is the fact that nearly 50% more marketers were able to track ROI in the tried-and-true email channel.

What caused such profound change in a single year? “Companies have become more connected to customer experience,” York says. “We've come a long way in a short time in our ability to report on what's happening in the social space. There are more integration efforts, more personalization efforts. Social advertising is blooming.”

Indeed, international marketing leaders identified by Salesforce are bullish on advertising on social media. Sixty-five percent are doing it, another 17% plan to, and 71% rated it as “very effective.” Comparatively, 66% said the same about the effectiveness of display ads and native advertising.

The 18% of survey respondents identified as high performers (those who said they were “extremely satisfied” with their marketing investments) have embarked on customer journey strategies that are inspiring their own cross-channel journeys. Nearly nine out of 10 of these marketers say journey-tracking efforts have been critical to their success, and seven of 10 say the tack has put wind in the sales of their customer engagement, customer recommendations, and revenue growth.

“Customer experience has become the Holy Grail,” York says. “Just last year we were focused on top-of-the-funnel, lead-generation activities. This year customer experience is number one and lead-gen is number three behind customer satisfaction.”

High-performing marketers are the ones who are more likely to be posting gains in personalization efforts and transferring what they've learned across channels. Forty percent or more of these leaders say they're creating personalize emails using predictive analytics and send the same email with unique content based on segments. That could well explain why two thirds of elite marketers—as opposed to less than a third of self-identified moderate performers—say they've successfully integrated their email successes into their overall marketing efforts.

These trend-setters' best work, though, may take place in the boardroom. More than 60% say they're leading their companies' digital transformations. Only 23% of average marketers and 8% of under-performers make the same claim.

The Salesforce study poses five strong recommendations to marketers: adopt a customer journey strategy, lead CX efforts in your business, align digital and traditional channels, use customer data for better targeting, and be as cross-channel as your customers.

“The marketers who are using personalization well across channels,” says York, “are the ones taking it to the next level.”

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