21 January 2016

The customer’s experience and the content to support it continue to be top priorities for both marketers and their agencies when they think about where opportunity lies, according to a global survey of more than 7,000 marketers and ecommerce professionals.

Just over a fifth (22%) of client-side respondents ranked optimising the customer experience as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, slightly ahead of other areas such as creating compelling content for digital experiences and data-driven marketing (both 16%).

The 2016 Digital Trends report, based on the fifth annual trends survey conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, found that the priorities that sit atop marketers’ lists are tied together by their focus on the individual: personalisation (31%), content optimisation (29%) and social media engagement (25%) are overlapping capabilities with the customer at the centre.

When asked to identify their strategic priorities for 2016, more organisations chose ‘data-driven marketing’ with their top vote (53%) than any other. While data skills remain elusive in many organisations (only 37% are satisfied with their ability to attract and keep analysts to make sense of their data), more companies (up by 10% since 2015) report having a good data collection infrastructure.

The 2016 edition of this research also focuses on the role of workflows and collaboration in the context of digital success. Clearly organisations acknowledge their importance: 94% say that optimising creative workflows will be important in delivering a great customer experience, while a similar proportion (91%) say the same about the importance of improving collaboration between creative and marketing teams.

While customer experience increasingly permeates all marketing activities, the research suggests that organisations are still grappling with difficulties, particularly when it comes to fostering a collaborative culture. Nearly half (46%) of respondents rank the process of creating a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives as 4 or 5 on the difficulty scale.

The research also found that:

-) ‘Optimising the customer experience’ is much more likely to be the single most exciting opportunity for organisations in the automotive (37%) and retail (29%) sectors compared to the average organisation surveyed.

-) Organisations based in North America find culture less of a challenge than their peers in Asia Pacific and Europe (40% rated it as 4 or 5 compared to 48% in APAC and 49% in Europe), though it remains in the top three most difficult elements to achieve.

-) While it’s encouraging to see that the vast majority of those surveyed recognise the importance of creative workflows and internal collaboration, ongoing testing and experimentation are perceived to be ‘very important’ by less than a third (31% and 29% respectively).

-) Just over half of company respondents (51%, compared to 61% of agencies) rank mobile as a top-three area of priority for their organisation (or their clients) in 2016.

-) The interest that marketers have for the Internet of Things / connected devices is largely future-looking, with only 6% citing as important today. Their agency partners see more possibility and impact from the practice, with nearly 20% saying that these everyday digital connections will be their clients’ most exciting opportunity.

-) The proportion of retail respondents saying they use geo-targeting technology has increased from 7% in 2015 to 11% this year.

Commenting on the findings of the latest Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, Econsultancy’s VP of Research, Stefan Tornquist, said: “The drumbeat of customer experience continues to sound, though is it increasingly accompanied by an emphasis on data. Increasingly, a goal of the former sets the priority of the latter.”

He added: “The drive to better understand and serve customers is real and evident in the data. Companies aren’t simply paying lip service to being customer-centric; they’re investing in technology, reworking strategy, making mistakes and achieving success.”

John Travis, VP, EMEA Marketing, Adobe, said: “In 2014, customer experience emerged as a top priority for marketers. In 2015, it gained momentum. Now, in 2016, it’s so important, it pulls other priorities into its orbit. Businesses are investing in experiences, but there’s more to it than that. This customer experience mandate is permeating everything else these businesses are doing.”

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The full report is available on the Econsultancy website here:

For more information about this report, contact:

Monica Savut, Senior Research Manager, Econsultancy
monica.savut AT econsultancy.com
+44 (0) 207 269 1450

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Published on: 4:25PM on 21st January 2016