This is part 1 of a 10-page series on the 2018 Digital Trends report. For the rest of the series, navigate via the sub-menu above.
Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report, published in association with Adobe, is based on a global survey of 12,795 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.
Now in its eighth year, the research looks at the most significant trends that will impact companies in the short to medium term. As part of this year’s study, we have also identified a number of top-performing companies in order to identify how they are focusing their activities and investments differently compared to their peers.
High-performing companies are those organisations that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin, and who have also significantly outperformed their competitors.
Key insights from the research include:
Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers.
› Asked about the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, optimising customer experience (19%) again comes out on top, ahead of data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).
› Organisations with a ‘cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives’ are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).
› Just under two-thirds (62%) of companies agree they have ‘a cohesive plan, long-term view and executive support for the future of [their] customer’.
› The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.
We are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’, with top-performing companies recognising the importance of these capabilities to complement data and technology excellence.
› The survey has found that just under three-quarters (73%) of respondents say their companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands.
› Organisations 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%). Similarly, organisations where creativity is highly valued are 46% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (19% vs. 13%).
› Organisations that ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’ are 57% more likely to have significantly surpassed their 2017 business goals (22% vs. 14%).
Investment in technology and related skills is paying dividends, with integrated platforms fast-becoming a prerequisite for success.
›› A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience, and can also be frustrating for marketers and other employees who want to go about their jobs without unnecessary restrictions in their ability to acquire, retain and delight customers.
›› In terms of their tech setup, 43% of organisations report a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies. Top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in a highly-integrated, cloud-based technology stack (25% vs. 9%).
›› Digital skills are vital for a range of marketing tools and platforms. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents agree that their companies are ‘combining digital marketing skills with technology’. Companies doing this are nearly twice as likely to have surpassed their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%), according to our analysis.
AI set to play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences.
›› When asked about the themes and technologies they are most excited about over a three-year timeframe, ‘delivering personalised experiences in real time’ is by far the most popular choice across all regions, with more than a third (36%) of company respondents, and 40% of their agency counterparts, selecting this option.
›› Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as their peers to be using AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Only 15% of companies are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. Looking only at respondents with annual revenues of more than £150m, the proportion of organisations using AI increases to 24%.
›› Analysis of data is a key AI focus for businesses, with companies keen to create insight out of the vast quantities of often unstructured data being generated by customers’ activity. On-site personalisation is the second most-commonly cited use case for AI.
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