8 in 10 Marketers Say Their Customer Engagement is Data-Driven

September 1, 2021

Salesforce Number Customer Data Sources Used Sept2021Some 8 in 10 (81% of) marketing leaders believe that they must transform their marketing in order to be competitive. That said, these leaders remain optimistic, with the latest State of Marketing report [download page] from Salesforce revealing that two-thirds expect revenue growth in the coming 12 to 18 months.

A vast majority of leaders have seen their digital customer engagement strategy change since the pandemic, and customers are driving the change. Some 63% of marketers say customers impact their strategy, while also saying they impact their technology (59%) and business model transformation (57%).

But, this focus on the customer isn’t new. Among the top 5 priorities for marketers this year, engaging with customers in real-time ranks #2. This priority was also listed within the top 5 last year. However, new to the list this year is creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices — a strategy that has proven to produce positive results for many marketers and customer experience professionals.

Marketers are under no illusion that these priorities will be easily achieved. Indeed, engaging with customers in real-time is at the top of the list of challenges for survey respondents. Creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices also joins the top 5 marketing challenges at #3.

Customer Data Sources

More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents say their customer engagement is driven by data, and the report shows that the number of data sources marketers are using is increasing. Looking at B2B (including B2B2C) and B2C respondents separately, B2C marketers used an average of 6 data sources in 2020. This year they are using 9 data sources on average, and, by 2022 the number of sources is expected to reach 12.

B2B marketers already take advantage of more data sources than B2C. Nonetheless, the average number of sources they use is also set to increase, going from 10 in 2020 to 12 in 2021. By 2022, the average number of data sources is anticipated to grow to 15 for marketers in this sector.

This year, the most used customer data source among respondents is known digital identities, followed by transactional data, declared interests or preferences, and second-party data. Surprisingly, despite a push towards using first-party data, more respondents appear to be using third-party data than did so in 2020.

Data Management Tech Use Cases

Even with the increase in data sources, deriving insights from the data is still a problem. This cannot be helped by the relatively low share of marketers who are completely satisfied with aspects of their customer data such as quality (42%), completeness (40%), accessibility (39%), timeliness (37%) and consent management (37%).

There is hope that technology such as customer data platforms (CDP) and data management platforms (DMP) can help. For marketers using either of these technologies, customer insights is ranked at the top of their use cases. Consent management and personalization complete the top-3 use cases for customer data management technology.

Privacy Regulation Compliance

Although consumers aren’t necessarily feeling in control of their data, Salesforce’s survey indicates that marketers feel like they have a handle on privacy regulations. Some 6 in 10 (61%) agree that they go beyond regulations and standards to protect and respect customer privacy. Furthermore, only about one-quarter (26%) consider complying with privacy regulations challenging, while only 3 in 10 (29%) agree that balancing personalization with customer comfort is challenging.

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a May-June 2021 survey of 8,227 marketing leaders from B2B, B2C and B2B2C companies across the world.


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