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AdobeEconsultancy-Marketers-Single-Biggest-Opportunity-of-the-Year-2015-v-2014-Feb2015Forget content marketing, mobile, and personalization. Customer experience outranks them all as marketers’ most exciting opportunity this year, reveals a recent report [download page] from Econsultancy and Adobe. Based on a survey of more than 6,000 marketing, digital and e-commerce professionals from around the world, the study shows that customer experience is a growing priority and one that’s unlikely to go away any time soon. Retailers in particular recognize this, with 9 in 10 North American retailers responding to a newly-released survey [download page] from SDL strongly agreeing that customer experience defines their brand.

Of 10 options listed in the Adobe and Econsultancy report, 22% of respondents cited customer experience as this year’s most exciting opportunity, up from 20% in last year’s survey. Compared to last year, a smaller share of respondents this year identified mobile (13% vs. 18%) as their most exciting opportunity, with fewer also calling social (7% vs. 10%) and multichannel campaign management (7% vs. 10%) their most exciting. (It’s worth noting that this year’s survey contained an additional option – location-based services, though only 3% cited it as their top opportunity.)

This year’s study also looks at how last year’s predictions played out, as respondents were asked which of the 9 areas measured last year turned out to be their biggest opportunity. Customer experience (CX) – last year’s most exciting opportunity – turned out to be the biggest opportunity for 17% of this year’s respondents, tied with content marketing, which had been third on the list of exciting opportunities last year. Of note, social seemed to outperform predictions: while only 10% of respondents last year indicated it was their most exciting opportunity, 16% this year said that it turned out to be their biggest area of opportunity.

Looking forward, marketers remain eager about CX’s potential: a leading 20% named it their most exciting opportunity in 5 years’ time. Respondents see their enthusiasm for content marketing and mobile waning over time, as each was cited by just 8% of respondents as the most exciting in 5 years (down from 15% and 13% this year, respectively). By contrast, personalization should grow to be a greater area of opportunity, as will big data and multichannel campaign management.

Other Findings:

  • 78% of respondents strongly agree (28%) or agree (50%) that they “try to differentiate through customer experience.”
  • Given 6 options and asked which would be the primary way their organization would seek to differentiate itself from its competitors over the next 5 years, a leading 44% of respondents cited “customer service/customer experience – making it easy, fun, valuable and/or pleasurable to shop for us.” By comparison, only 7% said becoming a “mobile first” company would be their main differentiator.
  • Strategy beats culture, skills, technology and data as the most important building block for a brilliant customer experience, according to respondents.
  • In terms of improving the customer experience, companies are placing the highest emphasis on making the experience as personalized and relevant as possible (33% share of respondents) and as valuable as possible (29%). Few are concerned with making the experience as fast or as mobile-friendly as possible.

About the Data: The survey was carried out between December 2014 and January 2015 among 6,333 marketing, digital and e-commerce professionals, including 54% on the client-side and 46% on the supply-side. Some 34% are based in North America; 23% are based in the UK and 21% elsewhere in Europe. Respondents were from a mix of industries and company sizes.

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