The digital-first era brings new opportunities and challenges for marketers of all kinds. Perhaps no one knows this better than retail and consumer goods companies, who typically sit at the forefront of innovation and operate in one of the most competitive industries.
To understand more about the trends shaping marketing efforts in the digital-first era, Salesforce surveyed more than 2,500 marketing decision-makers about what they’re doing and the challenges they’re facing. The result is the third edition of Salesforce’s Marketing Intelligence Report.
This comprehensive report makes one thing exceedingly clear: In a world where marketers are prioritizing customer satisfaction and growth, data has never been more important. In fact, data will underpin everything marketing teams need to do to be successful in the digital era.
With that in mind, here are three key takeaways from the Marketing Intelligence Report.
Data Will Always Dominate Marketing
The best marketing campaigns use data to target customers and create highly relevant experiences. And the best marketing teams use data to measure success, rather than going on gut feeling alone. In short, data dominates marketing.
But using data effectively isn’t easy. Two areas in particular – changing privacy laws and the need for clean data – present ongoing challenges.
First, data privacy changes continue to shift the way teams can collect and use data to communicate with customers. Now, if you don’t have explicit permission, you can’t use data to target customers. As a result, asking for and maintaining consent is paramount to creating and managing a clean view of each customer.
On the measurement front, changes to how technology providers protect consumers mean certain data, like open rates, are far less relevant than they once were (if they were even relevant to begin with). These changes make it no surprise that 90% of marketers say recent data privacy changes have fundamentally changed how they measure marketing performance.
Second, managing customer communications and expectations across multiple channels requires clean data. Duplicate data will always be a marketers’ enemy, but it’s not the only potential risk. Even with data free of duplicates, varied ownership and management of marketing channels can create blind spots across teams. Compounding those channels with the use of multiple tools, and having a single, clear view of customer interactions across channels becomes significantly more difficult.
The bottom line: For retail and consumer goods companies, the amount of data flowing between customers and your marketing channels, as well as the number of regulations governing your use of data, will only continue to grow. This means attaining and then maintaining clean data must always be a top priority.
Reporting is Hard
In an increasingly fast and proactive world, teams that can keep up with or even anticipate the next best step by using data will be more successful than the competition. Against this backdrop, manual work to gather and report on data simply won’t cut it anymore.
For example, how do you know what efforts are working if you spend a third of your time creating reports just to inform your next decision? Even if that data is accurate, the time lost uncovering it reduces the efficacy of any insights you might glean.
Despite the importance of having regular and efficient reporting processes, 80% of marketers say their ability to track ROI for each marketing investment needs improvement.
So what exactly should those improvements look like? Your team needs to integrate data and automate reporting processes to save time and money when it comes creating, analyzing, and reacting to performance data. Not only will doing so save time on reporting, but it will also free your time to focus on more important activities that can increase revenue and/or reduce costs.
The bottom line: Retail and consumer goods companies must take steps now to integrate and automate data reporting wherever possible to empower teams to analyze results faster and make smarter decisions.
Plan Early and Often So You Can Measure Twice, Cut Once
Virtually every topic Salesforce addresses in the Marketing Intelligence Report requires planning ahead. None of the initiatives are as simple as flipping a switch. To unleash the true magic of data, you need to plan ahead and align with stakeholders across the business.
To start, it’s important to document your goals and the steps you plan to take to reach them. This documentation can help everyone involved understand the original intention so that when it comes time to optimize the effort or, if needed, fix something that broke, you can refer to the original blueprint.
Along these lines, it’s essential to remember that even the best-looking reports can be misleading if the data feeding them isn’t right. Once again, this is where having a clear, documented plan can help confirm what’s working and what’s not.
Of course, all of this requires regularly revisiting your plans to ensure the actions you’re taking – and the outcomes you see along the way – still make sense. Everything can be operating as planned, but perhaps the results are just different than expected. If that’s the case, you need to review, reassess and redirect your efforts, and this is another area where having clear goals and clean data can help.
The bottom line: Marketing operations and automations have never been “set it and forget it” for retail and consumer goods companies – and they never will be. Your team needs to be intentional about the programs you set up and how you monitor, measure, and adjust along the way.
We’ve Entered a New Era of Retail and Consumer Goods Marketing
The digital-first era has arrived and that creates a new playing field for marketing teams at retail and consumer goods companies. Data is now more important than ever, but the rules around using that data are constantly changing, as are the systems to combine and access insights from that data.
In this world, your team must stay proactive to keep ahead of changing trends and effectively use data to make informed decisions quickly. The ability to develop a clear, well-aligned plan, combine data across channels, and automate reporting will be more critical than ever going forward.
Interested in learning more about what it takes to make this type of data-driven marketing a reality in retail and consumer goods? Check out AllCloud on AppExchange can help implement solutions on the Salesforce platform, based on a strategy developed uniquely for your business needs.
About the author: Chris Zullo is the Marketing Practice Director at AllCloud with more than 15 years of marketing strategy and technology experience. He is a member of Salesforce’s MVP Marketing Champion programs.
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