24 Stats & Opinions on Digital Marketing Trends for 2015

April 10, 2015

The Adobe and eConsultancy teams always manage to produce extremely thought provoking research that helps me define the focus of our marketing team moving into every quarter. Their Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing is a must read for anyone looking to build a stronger strategic plan moving into the second half of 2015 and beyond.

I read through the report and have very strong opinions around some of the stats shared in the report. Marketers continue to follow trends and fail to recognize where the need actually exists — one system of record. I have compiled 24 stats and opinions on what I believe are important for any digital marketer to understand and implement in the remainder of 2015.

1. Customer experience trumps all. Customer experience is the number one initiative for most digital marketers. 22% stated it was the single most exciting opportunity of the year.

2. Still experimenting with digital. Why? 69% of marketers will be ‘experimenting heavily with digital over the next year’ which is an increase from 64% the year before. Why are we still experimenting with digital? Implementation over experimentation.

3. Content marketing is exciting but hasn’t grown. Content marketing still remains an exiting initiative for most digital marketers. 15% believe it is the single most exciting initiative for 2015. It was 15% in 2014 as well.

4. Video is growing as an exciting opportunity (2015 vs 2014). 5% of marketers believe that video is the single most exciting initiative in 2015 compared to 3% in 2014.

5. Focus on customer experience is non-geo specific. North American (24%), Europe (21%) and Asia (21%) all believe that customer experience is their primary objective for 2015.

6. The rise of marketing automation. Focus on marketing automation is rising across all geographies with the increased need for nurturing in both B2B and B2C environments.

7. CX. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents are attempting to differentiate their company through an increased focus on the customer experience.

8. The decrease in demand gen and increase in CX. The focus will not be centered around demand generation or inbound marketing. It is about education and revitalizing the customer experience.

9. Customer experience is your only differentiator. 5% of companies are NOT using the customer experience as a differentiating factor. Which is 100% crazy.

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10. Pricing is not a differentiator. Only 5% of marketers believe they will be able to set themselves apart with their pricing strategies. This places heavier emphasis on customer experience as a differentiating tactic.

11. Again, customer experience is your only differentiator. 44% of companies believe that customer service / customer experience will be the primary way their organization will set itself apart from competitors. What is your value-add? How do you tell the story AFTER the sale?

12. You can’t pick which strategy to focus on and measure. 42% of marketers believe that strategy — building a cohesive plan and long-term view — is of primary importance for building a brilliant customer experience. Unfortunately, you can’t pick your strategy. Tools, culture, skills, technology, and data all need to be used to create a cohesive customer experience.

13. Marketing’s role. Marketing has to be both the voice of the customer to the enterprise, and the voice of the experience to the customer.

14. Insight vs. analytics. “Personalization depends on technology, but it is human insight that moves it beyond the algorithms relating products and people.”

15. Mobile is an important part of the customer experience. 33% of marketers will be placing the highest emphasis on marketing the customer experience as personalized and relevant as possible. However, only 4% will be focusing on marketing that experience as mobile friendly as possible. The two must be built together!

16. B2B and B2C are getting closer. B2C marketers are 18% more likely than their B2B counterparts to be focusing their efforts on targeting and personalization. In 2014, they were 55% more likely.

17. Data shouldn’t be ignored. Only 15% of marketers consider joining up data across all channels as a priority for the year ahead. Look for an future blog post from me on this topic. It is a massive mistake to keep ignoring the dream of one central repository for all customer data.

18. We are ignoring the power of geo-targeting. 32% of marketers are not exploring the opportunities presented by geo-targeting technology for delivering location-based notifications.

19. Agencies need to focus more on content optimization. The Adobe study found that 29% of companies listed “content optimization” as a top priority, yet 23% of agencies believe it should be a top priority. Content production is important but content optimization is the more powerful strategic tool.

20. B2B is more focused on content optimization. 40% of B2B marketers selected content optimization as a top priority for 2015, compared to only 24% of B2C marketers.

21. Customer journey is still top priority. 70% of companies cited having a clear understanding of customer journeys across channels as very important. The disconnect between data and the customer journey is still extremely apparent. In order to fully understand the journey, you must be able to analyze the past across all channels.

22. Offline is the bride of online. Only 38% of marketers see using offline data to optimize the online experience as being very important over the next few years. How do you manage the entire customer journey when you are not measuring and tracking the ENTIRE experience?

23. Hiring data-driven marketers are a key to success in the next five years. Under two-fifths of respondents indicated they have a good infrastructure in place to collect the data they need, while only 38% say they have the analysts they need to make sense of the data. Marketing departments must shift to hire the left-side of the brain instead of the right-side.

24. ROI is still an issue for marketers. 32% of marketers are not confident or are neutral in their ability to measure return on investment for digital marketing opportunities. However, 80% of marketers agrees that their marketing activity will be more measurable in 2015.

As you read the report one thing is painfully clear — marketers are trying to shift their focus to a better customer experience and yet they are ignoring the steps needed to get there:

  • One database of record
  • One team to manage both the digital and traditional marketing components of the brand
  • An increased focus in hiring data-driven talent

Marketers want to increase their understanding of the ROI component, but their primary focus is not related to capturing all data associated with the customer journey. The only thing that makes you relevant is the customer experience you provide, and the only way to enhance the experience is to understand every data point attributed to the journey. You must be able to manage all offline and online points of contact around a single source.

Without a single source of data, it is much harder and time consuming for marketers to understand and build the best customer experience possible for their brands.