Econsultancy has published its 2019 Digital Trends report, in partnership with Adobe, the ninth year running we have conducted this research.

The report is based on a global survey of 12,815 marketing, advertising, ecommerce, creative and IT professionals working for both brands and agencies.

Key themes include the relative success of ‘CX leaders’ and digital-first companies, a planned increased in CX tech spend, and arguably stagnant levels of CX maturity across the sample.

However, as the report states, “The most dominant theme emerging… is the importance of customer data, and the greater levels of urgency that are apparent when it comes to harnessing data for commercial gain.

Let’s look at some of the stats.

Personalisation the most exciting enterprise opportunity in 2019?

Enterprise organisations surveyed for the research regard ‘data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual’ as the single most exciting opportunity in 2019 (see chart below).

Amongst companies with revenues more than £150m ($195m), nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents made this their number-one choice, ahead of ‘optimising the customer experience’ (19%).

Which one area is the single most exciting opportunity for your organisation in 2019? (Respondents 1,421)

The B2B/B2C split in this data was marked, with more than a fifth (21%) of B2C respondents citing data-driven marketing as their most exciting opportunity, but only 12% of B2B respondents doing so.

The report posits that this discipline may have already “become very much business as usual”, considering the advance of technologies such as account-based marketing.

Better use of data for segmentation and targeting jumps up marketing priority list in 2019

When marketers specifically (23% of sample) were asked “Which three marketing-related areas do you expect to jump furthest up your organisation’s priority list in 2019?” – personalisation again jumps out.

Well over half (55%) selected ‘better use of data for more effective audience segmentation and targeting’ as one of their three organisational priorities.

This figure is significantly higher than the next most popular options – ‘improving customer intelligence and insights for a holistic customer view’ and ‘integration of marketing tools for greater efficiencies and better workflow’ (both 42%).

Which three marketing-related areas do you expect to jump furthest up your organisation’s priority list in 2019? (Marketer respondents 1,098)

Excitement not curtailed by big challenges

Of course, using data in this way is fraught with challenges, something that marketers seemed aware of in this 2019 Digital Trends survey.

Asked to rank their top three marketing challenges, the ‘difficulty in getting a holistic view of customers across all interactions’ came out top (44%).

What are the top three marketing-related challenges most likely to keep you awake at night? (Marketer respondents 1,098)

The personalisation and targeting of content and messaging is reliant on good data, across CRM, analytics, ecommerce and in-store – and if marketers want to go as far as personalising across channels, the challenges get bigger still.

As the report states, a “single customer view – or even something approaching that – becomes impossible” when marketers are using siloed data and tools that are not integrated.

CX maturity slow to change?

Only 10% of responding companies in the survey regard themselves as very advanced at CX, which represents just a two-percentage-point improvement since 2015 when we last asked this question.

Most companies (52%) still categorise themselves as either being ‘not very advanced’ (44%, down from 45%) or ‘immature’ (8%, up from 5%).

This suggests marketers are only beginning to deal with legacy infrastructure and tech, and though they may seem fairly sure of what’s ahead of them in 2019, it will be intriguing to see what next year’s survey shows.

For lots more on customer experience and data trends…

…download the Econsultancy and Adobe 2019 Digital Trends report