Marketing in 2016: does more data mean more sales?
Last week Salesforce - the global market leader that specialises in Customer Relationship Management software - launched a report on the state of modern marketing.
It surveyed 3,975 international marketers for the 2016 State of Marketing Report, which gives a sense of where industry heads feel the industry is headed.
And where precisely is that? Well, here's what Meghann York, Salesforce Marketing Cloud's director of product marketing, has to say: "High-performing marketers are extensively utilising sophisticated marketing technology, like marketing analytics and predictive intelligence, and are more likely to extensively use data targeting and segmentation."
(Translation: marketing is getting more and more data-driven.)
According to Salesforce, those who are most pleased with how their marketing is going seem to be those who are willing to spend on the tech tools of the trade.
They also found that marketers intend to spend more than 70pc of their total budget on digital marketing over the next year, with social channels set for considerable spending increases. Facebook rules the roost as the most effective social channel, followed by Twitter, YouTube and - surprisingly - Google+.
"We're also seeing interesting opportunities for marketers on channels like Snapchat and Instagram," says York. "Snapchat really moved into social media's centre stage from the fringes in 2015 and it's quickly becoming a preferred channel for younger consumers."
According to the report, over two-thirds of the best performing marketers are serious about mobile. They track analytics for mobile apps, align mobile and email campaigns, track mobile against desktop traffic and use deep links to that take users directly to the app store to download the app.
"Every channel is mobile - social, ads, web and email," says York. "So it's no longer about mobile-first or mobile-only. It's mobile everything. But, based on our research, marketers already know this. From 2015 to 2016, marketers indicated a 98pc growth in mobile application usage and a 149pc growth of location-based mobile tracking."
While the 2016 State of Marketing Report focuses exclusively on digital marketing channels, it does state that consumers are blasé about the difference between the physical and digital worlds. The medium or channel doesn't matter when it comes to getting through to the consumer, but consistent messaging and relevance do.
As a result, Salesforce sees marketers becoming "customer experience designers". It's an interesting point, despite the faddish terminology.
"Well-executed customer journeys must be contextual to the moment and each touch point must be personalised to individual customers across the various channels," says York. "But the lines between marketing channels continue to blur.
"For example, a customer might be in the store researching products on the web from their mobile device and then check an email for a discount.
"So if brands are going to join their customers on a journey, then they have to think about how their experiences unfold on every channel, almost simultaneously.
"In many ways, the customer is becoming the channel, so ensuring their experience is consistent and enjoyable, no matter where or how they're engaging, is vital."
What Salesforce's report makes very clear is that technological advances have created entirely new ways for companies to click with customers.
Social channels give marketers the opportunity to create a personal rapport; search allows for a touch point based on immediate need and intent; mobile has created an always-on experience; while the Internet of Things allows marketers to reach out to consumers through the things they own.
Salesforce has skin in the game when it comes to cheerleading for this technological revolution that's sweeping the marketing industry. And let's face it, the rise of consumer tech and the desire that's been manufactured for newer, shinier gadgets illustrate how technophilia is rampant among society at large.
But marketers cannot forget that while the newer, shinier digital channels may seem to promise previously unimaginable accuracy, efficiency and the ability to track consumer behaviour, they're just channels.
They're no good without a unique selling point, an alluring offer, an excellent creative execution. The medium is nothing without the message.
Sunday Indo Business