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Merkle Customer Marketing Innovations During Disruption Jul2020At a time when countless industries are being forced to put on the brakes, a new report [download page] from Merkle indicates that many marketers are continuing to invest and innovate. In fact, virtually all (96% of) respondents to Merkle’s report say that marketing and service innovations introduced during the pandemic are here to stay.

What Does Innovation Look Like Right Now?

Among the 400 marketers surveyed – all of whom work at major US or UK brands – marketing innovation is taking a number of forms. Most popular is trying out new marketing technologies or features, cited by half (50%) of respondents, followed by becoming more consumer-centric in marketing messaging (45%), developing a new transaction fulfillment capability (42%) and adding a new marketing channel (39%).

While one-third (33%) reported that they’re identifying new audiences at this time, marketers also appear to be shifting focus slightly from new prospects to current customers. Nearly 9 in 10 (88% of) respondents claimed that communicating with customers has become more important during the crisis, including 54% who said it has become significantly more important. Fewer said that communicating with prospects had become significantly more important (37%).

Supporting this trend, other research exploring the impact of the pandemic has found that improving connection with current customers is just one way that organizations are fortifying their existing strengths, rather than prospecting or promoting new products.

Investment into Virtual Communications Increases

In a number of areas, a majority of respondents report increased investment, and in many other areas a plurality say investment has increased. Understandably, mobile innovation leads the way with 56% of respondents saying that site/mobile chat investment has increased, and a further 55% report the same about mobile app functionality. In a similar attempt to improve virtual communication, investment into email (51%) and video (50%) has also increased.

Disruption Encourages Innovation

Of course, alongside innovation during this period of change, there has been considerable disruption to marketers. When asked to select their top pain points since the pandemic, 46% said that taking too long to make a marketing decision proved to be a disruption. What’s more, data-related issues highlighted by pre-pandemic research remain a problem for marketers, with more than 4 in 10 (43%) saying that data is in too many places to be useful. A further 38% claim that they don’t leverage the data they have.

A lack of organization appears to also be roiling marketers, with 36% selecting that their channels aren’t coordinated, and one-third (34%) saying that they are organized in an inefficient way.

Martech Projects Are Accelerating

Not only are marketers making new investments, but current martech projects are being accelerated at this time. By some margin, Insurance martech projects are seeing the most advancement, with a significant majority of marketers in this industry (90%) saying that project timelines have accelerated. The same can be said for Nonprofit (61%), Retail (57%) and Health (48%) martech projects.

Though other industries are seeing some acceleration, a higher percentage of respondents in these areas have seen projects slow down or pause. Unsurprisingly, marketers in the Travel, Media and Entertainment industries, all hit hard by the pandemic, report projects being slowed down or paused, with the same being seen in the High-Tech and Financial industries.

Read more in the full report here.

About the Data: Based on a June 2020 survey of 400 marketers at major US and UK brands, primarily in the Retail, Finance and High-Tech industries.

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