INDIANAPOLIS, NEW YORK, CUPERTINO – Seventy percent of millennials are frustrated with receiving irrelevant emails, but brands are still sending mostly mass communications. And while all industries prioritize their marketing spend to drive traffic to online first, mobile second, and physical locations last, over 50% of consumers are still doing their shopping in-store. These are just some of the surprising findings released from a new survey by SmarterHQ, Cheetah Digital, Liveclicker, and MailCharts, titled, “Marketers Are on a Mission: The State of B2C Marketing,” which asked hundreds of B2C digital marketers, spanning a number of industries, what tactics they’re using to reach customers, where they’re spending most of their marketing budget, and ways in which they’re leveraging technology to better target consumers.
The survey, which included marketers from across industries including retail, financial services, travel & hospitality, higher education, and media, entertainment & telecom, found that marketing investments and strategies varied by industry:
- Travel & Hospitality, Higher Education, and Financial Services are investing in Content Marketing 63% more than other industries.
- 79% of those in Retail are investing in Personalization Tools, which is more than any other industry surveyed.
- Travel & Hospitality reports the highest shift toward tailored messaging, with 63% of their communications catered to individual customers versus mass marketing. Retail follows, with 38% of their marketing mix focused directly on individual shoppers.
“While ‘personalization’ has been a buzzword with marketers for years, it’s clear that brands have yet to master tailored messaging, as consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by generic communications that don’t align to their specific tastes, interests, or behaviors,” said Michael Osborne, CEO of SmarterHQ. “In a world where brands like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Walmart execute everything customer-related so well, marketers should strive to continuously deliver better individual experiences. To benchmark if brands’ marketing tactics are meeting the expectations of consumers, we went directly to marketers to ask about their 2018 marketing budgets, what tools they’re investing in, and if the dominance of Amazon has any impact on their marketing spend. Some of the takeaways are eye-opening, but one thing remains clear to us – ‘behavioral marketing’ should become the de facto standard to build brand loyalty and to help delight consumers.”
According to the survey, the top four priorities of B2C digital marketers today are:
- Creating a more personalized customer experience: 51% of respondents said this was their top-ranked opportunity. “When it comes to personalization, data is paramount,” said Judd Marcello, EVP of Global Marketing for Cheetah Digital. “Customer data is typically underused or used inefficiently. It tells brands, especially retailers, so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and they can use that data to make a big impact on their business.”
- Increasing budgets to invest more in multichannel: The survey found that this year alone, marketing budgets are increasing on average by 18%, with multichannel solutions as the top technology for investment. Respondents reported investing 26% more in multichannel than any other technology.
- Sending more behavioral-based messages: 54% of respondents ranked email as the top ROI-driving channel, mostly because it remains the cheapest to implement and consistently produces the highest engagement. Respondents plan on sending 30% more behavioral emails compared to mass newsletters. Yet, millennials only want 1-3 marketing emails per month, but brands are sending 8-10, and they plan on sending even more emails in the future. “Marketing teams are often short on resources,” said Carl Sednaoui, Director of Marketing for MailCharts. “A great way to launch your email personalization efforts it to understand what the best players out there are doing. By seeing exactly how the best companies nurture browse abandoners, cart abandoner, and recent purchasers, you’ll get a feel for what’s right for your own email program.”
- Implementing strategies to compete with Amazon: 95% of Retail marketers said the giant has significantly impacted their marketing plans. However, marketers in other industries aren’t as concerned, or in some cases concerned at all, by Amazon. With Amazon already moving into Financial Services, Food Delivery, and Healthcare, it’s only a matter of time before they tackle other industries, too. “The most powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal is ‘activated’ customer data,” said Justin Foster, Co-founder and VP of Market Development for Liveclicker. “Activated data is not only the key to unlocking personalization potential; it provides every marketer with truly unique customer insights – insights that can’t be accessed by Amazon or any other competitors.”