2018: Survey Says!

Marketing Savvy


I realize that not everyone watched the game show “Family Feud” growing up, which is the source of the title for this blog, so here’s a random link to an entire episode that you may want to watch, just to absorb the quality of the analogy. Or, you can skip that entirely and go straight to the good stuff.

Now…prepare for me to use the word “market” in its various forms a LOT in this next sentence. The Marketing team at Marketo asked marketers in the Marketing Nation a series of questions regarding their marketing plans for 2018. Phew. The results are below, with a little commentary from our team and me with each data point, so please read on and comment!

Question #1: In 2018, I expect my Marketing budget to…

  • Increase—50%
  • Decrease—11%
  • Stay the same—39%

Key takeaways: It’s good for everyone in Marketing when investment goes up, especially for half of all respondents. That said, there’s an interesting point about where money is going in 2018, regardless of an increase or decrease in aggregate investment. Technology, personalized content, account-based marketing (ABM), and analytics are dominant investment themes, with AI showing up more now than ever before. It will be interesting to see if marketers are experimenting with AI, or actually putting it “in the game,” so to speak.

Question #2: How much of your content do you personalize?

  • All of my content—1%
  • A majority of my content—19%
  • Some of my content—70%
  • None—11%

Key takeaways: The bell curve is shifting, with more content being personalized now more than ever. However, my caution to marketers is that you need to shift to personalizing a majority of your content in 2018, or you will face an accelerated increase in communication opt-out from your customers and prospects. Personalizing content at a highly granular level can be daunting and expensive, so a suggestion is to start by putting AI to work in this area. Marketo Content AI, for example, automatically delivers specific content to individuals based on behavior or key values (It doesn’t “auto” customize. Let’s keep our feet on the ground—it’s not 2019!). There are a number of really interesting personalization technologies out there that different organizations are working on (take a look at Vidyard’s personalized video or Folloze’s ABM personalization), so I’d encourage every marketer to do their homework and get their content more personalized!

Question #3: How well are your marketing activities integrated into your customer journey?

  • Very well—4%
  • Pretty well—33%
  • OK—44%
  • Not well—19%

Key takeaways: To quote one of our great marketers at Marketo “Just OK or Not Well won’t cut it, and that’s what nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed are doing.” I think that sums it up nicely, so here’s an actionable suggestion: go beyond building a journey map and create an engagement strategy for your customers and prospects in 2018. Answer key questions like “How do we and should we engage our customers across every line of business in their journey?” Do that and you are on the road to engagement nirvana!

Question #4: What role will AI play for you in 2018?

  • A big role.—7%
  • Some role, it’s already a part of some of the tools I use today.—13%
  • Some role, but it’s not part of the tools I use today.—33%
  • None, I see the value in AI, but will not be able to leverage it yet.—40%
  • None, I don’t understand how it can benefit my job.—7%

Key takeaways: Per my previous point on AI, it’s clear that marketers see value, but aren’t sure where to deploy it in order to get return. Part of the challenge is that every vendor wants to be buzzword compliant, and no one will make it through a marketing technology presentation in 2018 without hearing the term “AI” or a clever name for an AI engine. Start by educating yourself on AI in general and where the pragmatic deployment scenarios will provide you return as well as acclimate your marketing organization to this wide-ranging technology. Here’s a good read from late 2017 on AI and marketing that can get you started!

Question #5: Which activity will have the biggest impact on your business in 2018?

  • Better sales and marketing alignment—24%
  • Improved ability to track ROI—28%
  • More comprehensive analytics—6%
  • Better integration within my MarTech stack—13%
  • Leveraging innovative marketing practices—10%
  • Driving more value from my marketing spend—6%
  • Working more closely with IT—1%
  • Aligning my marketing activities to corporate business objectives—12%

Key takeaways: Understanding ROI as well as aligning Sales and Marketing are the dominant themes here, which are very consistent with themes from 2017. While not surprising, it does mean that we all still have work to do. Technology vendors owe marketers better solutions to address all these topics, and specifically regarding ROI and alignment. A suggestion is to start by thinking about consolidating some technology products vs. buying more from a lot of different vendors. Obviously that’s a little self-serving, but part of our vision at Marketo is to deliver an Engagement Platform for Marketing, much like sales has a CRM platform. I do see more sales tools integrated closely with MarTech, and the reason that’s happening is due to the importance of attribution and ROI tracking. Marketing can’t keep creating opportunities only to hand them off to a black box CRM that doesn’t close the loop and provide real ROI data!

In aggregate, I am really encouraged by the optimism that comes through from marketers for 2018—it tells me we will see more innovation, more personalization, and more consolidation in the technology landscape. I can’t wait to see what the brilliant members of the Marketing Nation do in 2018, and I’m looking forward to celebrating your achievements at Marketing Nation Summit in April! See you there, and happy New Year!

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