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5 Takeaways from the Salesforce State of Marketing

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Marketers disagree on needs and metrics – but appear to be doubling down on social media advertising and mobile marketing. That’s according to the new 2015 State of Marketing Report, which Salesforce recently published.

The company that coined the term “marketing cloud” (was “sales cloud” taken?) conducted the survey online in October and November 2015 and earned responses from 5,053 marketers around the globe. The report published in January 2015 is the second annual report – which provides benchmarks for understanding shifts in perception.

There were five observations that came to my mind in reading the report:

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1. Marketers don’t agree on marketing’s most pressing needs

Of the 19 pressing business challenges listed on the survey, not a single entry earned a majority of votes.  In other words, there isn’t consensus among marketers, on what exactly, constitutes a pressing need.

New business development, lead quality and staying abreast of marketing technology held a three-way tie at the top the list – each with 27% of respondents. Shifting demographics, channel expansion and “enterprise level system optimization” (whatever that means) came in last.

Certainly, organizations are unique, but I worry when the disparity is so vast, we collectively fall apart at the seams:  When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

2. Marketing metrics have little consensus

If marketers don’t agree on needs, it’s unlikely they’d agree on measures. For example, just 32% said revenue growth was the top marketing metric – and that was the most frequently cited metric.

Maybe revenue is the right metric, and maybe it’s the wrong one, (if you like your job in marketing it’s the right one) but the fact that most marketers can’t agree on a metric amongst themselves strikes me as odd.  It’s going to be really tough going when sales walks into the room to agree on the definition on of a “lead.”


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 3. Whole lot of mobile marketing (again).  

Mobile this year is — for real, for real — according to the survey. About half of respondents say they are using mobile marketing (46%) and 70% identify mobile as a “critical enabler.”  For those catching up on the perennial “year of mobile” forecast — mobile marketing boils down to these three key things: a) if you do email marketing, you’re doing at least some mobile already b) you probably need to focus on other mobile options c) no matter what, your content needs to look good on a mobile device.

4. Social advertising will get competitive.  

The early adopters have had a fun, but not free, ride on social advertising. Competition is slight, the prices are relatively low and the platforms themselves are still maturing. That’s all about to change some 70% of respondents plan to increase their social media ad spend – indeed the future of social media marketing is a path paved in payment.

For savvy PRs, you probably won’t see increased competition for your targeted paid ads aimed at earning media, but it will become more expensive to aim for message saturation by promoting your big hits.  In the recommendations section at the end, Salesforce cautions marketers:

“Realize that spending more money on social media won’t work if your social presence is negligent or too self-promotional, so advertising and organic content must work in tandem.”


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5. Email is still the killer app.

State of Marketing - email killer appGiven this is the second year that Salesforce has run the survey, it’s interesting to see the rebound in email.  A majority – 60% — find email to be a “critical enabler” while another 20% say email marketing is a “primary revenue source.”

Email marketing may not be fun, or sexy, but email is still clearly essential – and we can probably tell it was the direct marketers (rightfully) that picked “revenue” as the most important marketing metric.

* * *

One of the sidelong observations I had in the study was the casual reference to “content marketing.”  Other than the B2B marketing category (which ranked content marketing as a top area for increased investment), the term was relatively seamless throughout the cycle.  Perhaps then, we’ve gotten over the hype and are reaching a level of normalization.

What was your take?

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Photo credit:  Flickr, Wonderlane, Entrance to Heaven (CC BY 2.0

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