Corporate marketing will undergo a fundamental transformation over the next five years. The reason: use of analytics, digital, and mobile technologies, according to 78% of marketing executives surveyed by Accenture. However, a similar number of respondents (79%) believe their company will not be a fully operationalized digital business in the same amount of time.
Accenture Interactive’s new report notes that marketing executives are chasing the digital vision as more than one third of the executives expect digital spending to account for more than 75% of their marketing budgets within five years, and 41% believe their spending on digital marketing will increase by more than 5% next year alone.
This is a key finding from the new report based on survey responses of nearly 600 executives—16% from banking—in 11 countries conducted between November 2013 and January 2014.
“As marketing executives are increasingly embracing digital, they can be catalysts to help their company take advantage of the wider digital opportunity and protect against broader digital threats,” says Brian Whipple, senior managing director, Accenture Interactive. “Marketing executives are well positioned to assume this role because the opportunities, as well as the potential and real threats, are all about the customer, the brand, the interface with the customer, and how the customer is empowered. To be part of their enterprise’s digital transformation, marketing executives should extend their vision of marketing beyond traditional boundaries.”
Only 62% of survey respondents, however, believe their company currently provides a good customer experience. To turn this situation around, the report says that companies will have to improve their ability to build long-lasting customer relationships, design and deliver branded customer experiences, and make use of multiple channels, including an increased leverage of digital channels.
The report recommends several broad concepts that businesses should consider as they work toward achieving that goal:
• Increase collaboration with the C-suite, including chief digital officers and chief information officers.
• Reverse engineer corporate marketing initiatives around desired outcomes rather than focus on sales transactions.
• Empathize with customers by changing the focus of marketing from something you "do to" a customer to something you "do with" a customer. Don’t build marketing programs based on initiatives that target, capture, and convert customers, focus instead on efforts that influence, engage, stimulate, and help customers.
• Remember that the customer is not a transaction but an ongoing dialogue, a continuous engagement. It is a relationship that covers the whole spectrum of sales, service, retention, and loyalty.
The report also recommends that marketing executives focus more on leading and transforming the marketing role—as digital transforms the enterprise—by creating multichannel, personalized experiences for each customer across the brand incrementally, continuously reviewing the data, and shifting tactics and technologies as needed. As part of the process, the report suggests that marketing executives should do more to integrate marketing channels with real-time analytics, invest in agile technologies and cloud-based services, and reorient the marketing model so that new talent with all the necessary skills in analytics, mobile, and digital put digital marketing to its most effective use in boosting the customer experience.
Among the additional survey findings:
• Respondents believe that front-line employees and customer word of mouth are still very important marketing channels, but the increase in effectiveness of email marketing, online display advertising, and search engine optimization was significant with jumps of 14, 10 and nine points respectively from the 2012 survey. Interestingly, telemarketing saw a huge drop in both importance and effectiveness, decreasing by 23% and 10% respectively.
• Marketers in emerging economies are much more confident than executives in mature markets that their company has the ability to make the transformation to a digital business (70% vs. 38%) and more confident that their company can achieve that goal (71% vs. 42%).
• Although marketing executives have had success in hiring more talent with digital, analytical, and technical skills, the survey shows a 10-point decline in customer and digital analytics capabilities compared to the 2012 survey.
• One in four marketing executives state a lack of critical technology or tools as the chief barrier to digital integration.