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by Guy Marion, CMO & Head of Business, Autopilot HQ
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New Research: Where Marketers are Investing, Winning, and Failing in 2016

Today we’re pleased to release our latest research report, the 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing,” with a foreword from Adrienne Weissman, CMO of G2 Crowd.

This 39-page report (don’t worry, it’s scannable) draws from a 42-question survey of 505 US-based marketing decision makers to discover where they are investing, the strategies they are adopting to achieve high growth, and which marketing tactics and channels get results.

For marketers, the winds of opportunity are blowing. While the relationship between online brand and customer experience has always been mutually reinforcing, never has the latter been so publicly visible and instantly impactful. If you can create an authentic and memorable online customer experience, expect to reap the benefits of shares, shoutouts, and no-cost growth.  

The bottom line: Customer journey marketers are winning

We find that 71% of high performers have mapped their customer’s journey, and an astonishing 88% say their customer journey initiative is driving better acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.

Journey marketers are winning

Marketers who have defined a customer journey initiative report many benefits, including faster revenue growth, positive business results, and a more personalized customer experience.

84% of respondents said that marketing owns or is a key stakeholder in their company’s customer journey initiative, with 66% of high performing marketers leading the charge. This speaks to a significant shift in the modern marketer’s role to primary business architect and revenue driver.

So where are marketers investing?

As 2017 approaches, marketers are investing first in online ads (30%), and customer events (also 30%), followed by email marketing, social media ads, and content (download the report for the complete 2017 investment priorities list).

High performers are focusing more on the customer experience than ads, by investing in customer events and marketing (35%), and referral and loyalty programs (29%), to get ROI from creativity, proof points, and buyer incentives to drive referrals and repeat purchases.

Where marketers are investing

High performers are also investing in analytics and attribution (19%), meaning that as budget allocation shifts from advertising to customer-focused marketing, marketing leaders need to hire math men over mad men to analyze behavioral and purchasing data to accurately attribute what content and campaigns generate ROI.

Marketing automation adoption has taken off

Marketing automation software (MAS) is widely seen as critical to communicating with customers and prospects in a scalable, automated and personalized way.

Until recently, many companies have yet to implement it, with research completed as recently as mid-2014 suggesting that MAS adoption hovers around only 3% for non-technology companies. The complexity, high costs and arduous implementation of traditional MAS vendors have warded off most companies, particularly SMBs, from adopting the technology.

But in 2016 adoption of MAS has taken off. 53% of marketers surveyed here (and 71% of high performers) say they use marketing automation to nurture leads and personalize their customer’s experience. Cost, not lack of awareness, is now the main impediment of use.

Marketing automation concerns

Which automation journeys are working?

High performers say marketing automation’s biggest impact is on lead generation (32 percent). For example, the Corporate Mobility Solutions (B2B) unit of ride-sharing service Lyft reported a 600%+ increase in leads in 2016 by using Autopilot connected to Salesforce to automate the follow up, qualification, and routing of new web and content leads.

The second most valuable use of marketing automation is for enticing satisfied one-time buyers to purchase again (23 percent). For example, popular B2C services like the flower delivery service BloomThat tailors their new user experience based on the number of times their customers have purchased.

Other successful nurturing approaches to acquire and onboard new users include:

  • Triggering a cadence of helpful content designed to help users reach “Aha!” moments
  • Personalizing content based on past behavior (in-app, web-based, or purchase)
  • Crafting a compelling multi-channel experience (email, in-app, SMS, web) and focusing on vertical or functional use cases (industry, need, department)

When asked to rank their top-performing automation journeys, marketers said generating new leads by emailing purchased lists, automating sales outreach, nurturing warm leads, onboarding new users and reactivating cold leads.

Top performing automation journeys

Nearly everyone is personalizing

81% of marketers in this study are using data to personalize their marketing, and are 54% more likely to say it’s resulting in a better customer experience.

Most are using basic contact details or firmographic data, like name, company, or industry, to segment and personalize their newsletters or promotions for better results.

Everyone is personalizing

Rich personalization is still in its infancy, with only a third of marketers using online behavior, integrated CRM data like lead status’ or sales-entered data (19%), or in-app usage (13%), to deliver more granular, relevant experiences and content. So what are the benefits of this more personalized marketing?

Not surprisingly, the more personalized the marketing, the better the customer experience they deliver: 83% of those using in-app data and 79% of those using online behavior believe that personalization is improving the experience, compared to only 54% of those who do not use personalization.

Wrapping it all up

High-performing marketers are attaining 80% or more of their lead or performance goals this year, and are growing revenue by 58% faster on average. This is consistent regardless of their company size or business focus, with high performers outperforming peers by as much as 122% in enterprise and by 74% in B2C-facing companies.

Their intense focus on mapping the customer journey, investing in brand, and utilizing marketing automation to stay in touch more regularly and across multiple channels is paving the way.

Interested in learning more? Download the full report and share your feedback and thoughts in the comments below.

Download the customer journey marketing report

3 Comments
Author Guy Marion, CMO & Head of Business, Autopilot HQ

Guy is the CMO & Head of Business at Autopilot HQ and is a revenue-focused leader interested in the shift towards all things cloud & SaaS, customer journey automation, and the consumerization of Enterprise software.

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