In a recent paper, Salesforce Research reported on a survey of nearly 900 retail and consumer goods marketing leaders worldwide to discover how:

  • Cross-functional dynamics are shifting to satisfy customer and business demands
  • Data is transforming the way marketers operate
  • Personalization is becoming more refined at the crossroads of intelligence and trust
  • New standards of engagement are inspiring and challenging marketers

There were three main findings of the survey:

1. Fifty-four percent of respondents view a cohesive customer experience as critical. (An earlier Salesforce study found that 67% of consumers say connected experiences — like seamless handoffs between departments and channels — are very important to win their business.)

Yet only 13% of consumers say companies generally excel at delivering connected experiences. Increasingly, marketers are at the helm of creating customer journey strategies to close this gap. Forty-four percent of retail and consumer goods marketers say they lead customer experience initiatives across the organization.

Coherent experiences are an elusive goal without strong alignment and shared objectives across all customer-facing teams. Shared goals and technology are, therefore, minimum necessities in consumer organizations. Advertising and marketing alignment, while necessary, are not sufficient. This unified front has to span the entire customer journey. Within the retail and consumer goods space, alignment between marketers and their commerce and service counterparts is less common, with only about half saying their goals are aligned.

2. Opaque data use policies, associated scandals, and reports of hacking, ransomware, etc. have led to a crisis in customer trust and have placed a premium for marketers on balancing personalization with privacy. The Salesforce study found that 91% of consumers say that securing their personal information is a critical factor in companies earning their trust, and 89% say the same for transparency in how their data is used.

3. Marketers must manage real-time engagement across all channels from websites to email marketing, social media, mobile apps, and more. The average consumer uses 10 or more channels to communicate with companies, so marketers must be conversant not only with the “standard” channels, but also with a variety of emerging channels such as virtual assistants, augmented reality, and connected devices.

To understand who customers are and what actions to take based on their unique needs, retail and consumer goods marketers are increasingly using second-party data —data that is shared between consenting parties like brands and publishers — to extend audiences and refine growth targeting.

Sales effectiveness and customer retention rates — areas that have historically been success indicators for sales and services teams — have risen to the top tier of marketing KPIs. This underscores the evolution of cross-department collaboration to enhance the customer journey.

In light of this new world that is emerging in consumer goods marketing, the requirements for marketers have changed dramatically. Today’s customer marketer must be forward-thinking, service-focused, strategically minded, creative, and collaborative, but with all parts of the organization and with customers. They must also be conversant with data analytics and focused not so much on clever campaigns or Super Bowl-level ads as they are on the customer’s experience.

Locating and recruiting the qualities an organization needs can be a difficult process. Outsourcing the search and vetting of candidates is likely to produce the best results. An effective recruiting partner will know how to identify the right combination of skill and experience to find the top candidates and to convey to them what is needed by the hiring company.

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