Fit for the future – five areas marketers should focus on 


1. Ensure the right kind of leadership and culture are in place

A great customer experience doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a highly co-ordinated approach across the whole organisation, with commitment from the top of the business to put the customer at the heart of all decision-making. 

It is incumbent on leaders to ensure they are allocating sufficient digital budgets and prioritising efforts to improve digital skills through education programmes. An organisation that is serious about prioritising experience design needs the right organisational structure in place, with cross-disciplinary and integrated teams. The right culture depends on rewarding the right types of customer-focused behaviour so that collaboration and cross-functional working come naturally to employees. With the right culture and strategy in place, employees will be more inclined to follow the right process, provided that they are sufficiently empowered and trained to deliver.


2. Prioritise design and creativity

The growing prevalence of technology and data has brought a more scientific approach to digital marketing very much into the spotlight. However, it has become clear that an equally important platform for success is excellence in design and creativity. The research shows that design-driven organisations are more likely to have exceeded their business goals by a significant margin, while the same is true for businesses where creativity is highly valued. Business leaders should be left in no doubt about the importance of a design-centric approach, or about the fundamental requirement for creative talent to complement excellence in data and analysis. Whether in the context of specific product and service design skills, or creative marketing minds to come up with powerful and compelling stories, the best talent needs to be sought after and then sufficiently nourished and rewarded.


3. Know your customers… and then delight them with the right content at the right time

If you want to delight your customers, you need to know who they are, based on both quantitative and qualitative data. Marketers should think about the different stages of the customer journey, and carry out extensive testing to see what types of communication and messaging at different touchpoints result in the best outcomes. Companies should be aspiring to target content and messaging based on individual customer preferences and behaviour, inferred from both explicit and implicit data. In order to deliver a great customer experience, it is crucial to have the right content readily available. While agencies can play a key role in helping to produce certain types of content, organisations neglect in-house capabilities at their peril. As noted in this report, organisations that are bringing content creation in-house are significantly more likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin.


4. Budget for success

Companies that are increasing investment in digital marketing are more likely to have exceeded their business goals last year, while those identified as top performers are twice as likely to be planning significant investment in digital skills and education of their employees. The key to winning more budget internally is the ongoing demonstration of ROI from activities.

As well as investing in the tried-and-tested digital channels that are proven to deliver, businesses must also keep an eye on the latest trends and more innovative techniques that are likely to become commercially attractive in the medium term. A good example is artificial intelligence which can make marketing more efficient and enable marketers to focus on higher-value activities while machine learning takes care of some of the heavy lifting. Organisations must prioritise training internally, so that staff are equipped with the tools and techniques that will become more prevalent in the future.


5. Invest in integrated technology

Integrated customer experience and marketing technology is increasingly a prerequisite for success, as this research makes clear. Companies will struggle to provide a consistent cross-channel experience to their customers and prospects if employees are wrestling with a host of tools and sources of data that aren’t connected. The onus is on CMOs and CIOs to work together so that they are thinking about solutions that deliver against their customer experience goals, as well as their marketing goals. C-suite executives should also consider the positive impact on staff morale that an integrated marketing platform can generate. The research shows that companies that are making the necessary investment are reaping the benefits.


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