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Eight in 10 digital marketers are feeling greater pressure this year than last to meet acquisition and revenue goals, and many feel that they’re “running on a never-ending hamster wheel.” So finds SheerID in a survey [download page] fielded by WBR Insights among leaders of customer acquisition hailing mostly from B2C companies generating at least $1 billion in annual revenues.

Presented with a list of 6 customer acquisition challenges and asked to identify their greatest obstacle, respondents were most likely to point to differentiation from competitors (23%).

There are signs that the customer experience could be an area for these marketers to explore, especially considering that almost half of the respondents said that their primary role in overseeing the customer experience. Recent research has found that 3 in 4 consumers feel that the customer experience has an influence on their purchase decisions, thus acting as a competitive differentiator. Additionally, CMOs themselves feel that new industry entrants use the customer experience as a differentiator, and are doing a better job on this front than incumbents.

Meanwhile, the second-largest of the customer acquisition obstacles presented is concern over privacy and/or privacy regulations, such as the GDPR or recent California Consumer Privacy Act. In fact, for CMOs around the world, misuse of data or a data breach emerges as a bigger strategic concern over the next 2-3 years than increasing levels of competition. The SheerID survey points to lack of control over consumer data with online and social advertising networks as a key problem, one that’s felt by 6 in 10 respondents. Marketers are now tasked with providing personalized experiences within the limits of stricter controls over privacy, and in an environment where consumers are hesitant to share data that could enable more targeted communications.

An Over-Reliance on Promotions?

B2C marketers are leaning on promotions as a large part of their customer acquisition efforts, per the report, as 80% classify sales promotions and discounts as extremely (25%) or somewhat (55%) important to their strategy.

With universal price discounting regularly used by a majority of respondents, marketers are faced with the potential for lower conversion rates. It is worth noting that decreasing conversion rates on promotions and offers was the least cited customer acquisition challenge, but most respondents still feel as though they’re prevented from achieving higher rates due to consumer fatigue or conditioning to discounts (55%), a lack of differentiation (54%) and inabilities to target specific segments (53%).

Indeed, close to two-thirds worry that running more promotions will devalue their brand, cut their margins, or condition consumers to expect discounts. Moreover, 44% now feel that increasing the level or frequency of promotions and discounts won’t help them increase sales.

In order to try and earn some level of differentiation, most marketers surveyed are looking at new advertising channels as opposed to using the same ones. Social media is the channel for which the most are intending to increase their spending, and while the report’s analysts feel that “this move will contribute an even greater level of noise in the marketplace,” research does suggest that Millennials (a key segment for B2C marketers) are turning to social media to seek out promotions.

The full report is available to view here [download page].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 150 leaders in customer acquisition across 5 consumer-facing industries: Retail (24% share); Financial Services (21%); Travel (20%); Food Services (18%); and CPG (17%). Most respondents represent B2C companies generating at least $1 billion in annual revenue.

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