Swimming With the Big Fishes

By Ray Schultz

What does it take to be a top marketing performer? A focus on customer relationships and a willingness to spend money on technology, according to a survey by Salesforce.

Of the 4,000 firms surveyed, 48% of the high performers are substantially increasing their spending on marketing tools and technology, compared with 23% of the moderate performers and 27% of the underperformers.

How does Salesforce define high performers and moderates? As follows:

High performers , who represent 18% of the firms surveyed, are extremely satisfied with the results of their marketing investments. Moderate performers, 68% of the whole, are only moderately satisfied. And the underperformers are “slightly or not at all satisfied.”

What do these folks worry about?

The top performers fret most about keeping pace with their customers, producing original content and talent acquisition. In contrast, the purported “moderate” performers are concerned about budget constraints, building customer relationships and new business development.

That’s very enlightening, but I wonder: Just how scientific is it when you’re asking a company to rate its own performance?

Pessimists can call themselves “underperformers,” and still deserve a higher rating. And optimists may not be doing as well as they think.

That said, here’s what the survey found. Overall, 35% of all marketers consider customer satisfaction their first measure of success. For 33%, it’s revenue growth and 24% cite customer acquisition.

At the same time, 37% list brand awareness as a top priority, compared with 34% who seek higher levels of customer engagement and 25% who cite social media engagement.

Based on the survey, digital marketing now gets 70% of the average marketing budget, compared with 62% in 2011. And the total is expected to hit 75% by 2021.

That said, here are some best practices that emerge from the survey. High performers are:

  • 8.8 times more likely to adopt a customer journey strategy as part of the overall business strategy.
  • 13.7 times more likely than the others to integrate their business systems to obtain a single view of the customer.
  • 34.4 times more likely to be excellent at creating personalized omni-customer experiences.
  • 10.7 times more likely to use predictive intelligence.
  • 7.2 times more likely to use web personalization.
  • 2.8 times more likely to substantially increase spending on marketing tools and technology.
  • 9.7 times more likely to be actively mapping the customer journey.
  • 3.3 times more likely to lean on CRM tools.

Got it all? Now here’s a couple of additional state to keep in mind: 63% of the high rollers are implementing digital transformation across the company, compared with 23% of the moderate performers and 8% of the underperformers.

Similar percentages excel at collaborating with other business units.

And not that this is any revelation, but 91% use data to segment or target advertising.

Salesforce surveyed 4,000 marketers, 32% of them in the U.S., 11% in Canada and 11% in the United Kingdom. Smaller percentages are in Germany, Japan, Brazil, Australia, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.