Marketers universally are being challenged to do more with less. With a looming economic downturn, the stakes are higher than ever – it’s a common thought that marketing is the first function to be slashed in a recession.
But it’s not all “doom and gloom”. For the optimists out there, change presents opportunity to fine-tune their tech
stack. “Orchestration”, “unification”, “Web3”, “personalization”, “real-time”, are all terms we’ve heard circulating in 2022. Let’s see what could be in-store.
Split Views: Optimists vs. Pessimists
Salesforce’s messaging is optimistic. Having surveyed 6,000 marketing leaders across 35 countries, they found that “marketers remain optimistic amid change”. 87% of respondents claim that their work provides greater value now than it did a year ago – a 10 percentage point jump from last year.
There’s been investment in expanding marketing’s horizons – new customer segments, business models, fulfillment options, geographical targets, product offerings, and more. If you consider the percentages low, what’s striking is the proportion of respondents that consider these moves permanent, pretty much two-thirds for each strategy. Will next year show a retraction in these strategy shifts?
However, it’s not all “rainbows and sunshine”, you have to acknowledge the forces that are outside marketers’ control:
“Companies everywhere are looking to their CMO and marketing teams to meet customers’ digital-first expectations, do more with less in the face of economic headwinds, and accommodate evolving data privacy laws to prepare for a cookieless future.”– Sarah Franklin, President & CMO, Salesforce
Others in the digital marketing space paint a bleaker picture. Neil Patel’s commentary follows the hard economic facts in their analysis. What I found interesting when reading these two sources of information, is that Salesforce surveyed marketing leaders and message data sent via their platform (on the pricier end of the spectrum), whereas Neil Patel was likely gathering sentiments from across the org hierarchy, and organizations using a plethora of other platforms on the market. I could be wrong here, it could be a sweeping statement, but it’s something to bear in mind.
1. Marketing Budget Allocation
From placing our chips on the board in quite bold ways since the pandemic, to those chips now being set to dry up for most marketing teams. Almost two-thirds (65%) of marketers say that they’ve already been reducing spend:
And which channels are receiving the marketing dollars? Advertising is a big ticket item (discussed further in point 2), content (music to our ears), technologies, and account-based marketing (ABM) for B2B teams.
2. Spotlight on Advertising
In the charts above, advertising takes up the largest chunk of both B2B and B2C marketing budgets. With advertising spend predicted to reduce significantly, it will be interesting to see how this changes over the course of 2023. As Neil Patel correctly pointed out, the signs are already appearing; YouTube’s revenue decreased by 2% in Alphabet’s (parent company of Google and YouTube) latest earnings call. Meta’s average revenue per user has taken a downward turn ($9.41 vs $9.83).
According to data from NP Digital (digital marketing agency and owner of Ubersuggest), advertising costs are decreasing. This is mainly driven by organizations cutting back on spend, and reduced demand leads to decreasing costs.
This on a whole does not represent trends at the industry level. Neil Patel compared ad spend in Real Estate (huge reduction) vs B2B SaaS (stable spend), and naturally, because businesses are cutting back on their spending, and some sectors don’t have the same demand as they used to.
When adapting for the impending cookieless future, changing tools and technologies could sway budget spend in that direction.
3. Conversion Rates
Pumping money into gaining traffic to your website is futile if these prospects don’t convert. A drop of 7.13% suggests hesitancy to spend money among consumers, and B2B buyers generally becoming more spend adverse.
So, what’s the solution here? “Softer” conversion points that don’t require the individual to make a monetary commitment? That’s easier said than done in transactional, B2C sales. More engaging user experiences? Salesforce’s latest and greatest in Commerce Cloud indicates this is a move to make. Personalization? Again, Salesforce would agree.
4. Extensibility and Integration
Extensibility is all about getting more mileage out of one’s tech stack. Effective integration irons out inefficiencies – aggregating data from multiple sources faster and optimally, reducing manual work, and more.
Extensible orchestration is a term has been on the tips of Salesforce marketing experts’ tongues over the past two years, but what does it actually mean? Let’s break it down…
- Orchestration: most commonly related to a musical conductor’s intentions is to plan and coordinate the elements (instruments) of their situation (the orchestra) to produce the desired effect (harmonious music).
- Extensible: designed to allow the addition of new capabilities and functionality.
Extensible and Orchestration come together in a Marketing Cloud and Pardot (Account Engagement) context to improve how marketers coordinate the elements (data sources, content, workflows) of their situation (teams, channels) to produce the desired effect (single profile of an individual, actionable engagement data) – and be able to add elements without disrupting their situation.
Examples off the top of my head include:
- The Pardot API v5 (more endpoints added with each release)
- Marketing App Extensions, with External Activities, and new in 2022, External Actions
- Email Content object, being able to deploy to different types of emails
I have a feeling we will see more functionality over the course of 2023 that will make your Marketing Cloud tech stack feel more like an orchestra than a “cocktail” of platforms.
Salesforce described this as “walking the ‘personalization vs. privacy’ tightrope”. Marketers are adapting to changes in privacy regulations and calls for data transparency.
With the end of third-party cookies on the horizon, 68% of marketers have a fully defined strategy to shift
toward first-party data. Salesforce’s technology is supporting this movement – Genie’s strategic advertising partnerships, and Pardot (Account Engagement) first-party cookie tracking, are a couple of examples that come to mind.
In terms of each of the actions below, over half of marketing leaders are investing:
No surprises, the foundation of solid personalization comes from diverse and aggregated data sources. The chart below gives us insight into how data source diversification is shaping up:
6. CDP and Profile Unification
If you were thinking that Salesforce Genie, announced at Dreamforce, was a far-fetched Genie-dream for your organization, I can understand. From my experience, I worked with organizations of all sizes still grasping the basics – even in large enterprises with money to spend! I witnessed how retro-fitting marketing technologies into an established architecture and organizational practices was tougher than starting out fresh.
Salesforce’s own implementation of Genie was eye-opening, a signal of solidarity that even Salesforce have overcome their own challenges making true CDP a reality.
Following on from the previous point, the foundation of solid personalization comes from diverse and aggregated data sources. The number of data sources is steadily growing:
Marketing Cloud CDP (Genie) has been part of the Marketing Cloud suite (better suited to “transactional purchases”, therefore, a tendency to be known as a B2C marketing suite). With Pardot being rebranded to “Marketing Cloud Account Engagement” in an effort to unify all Salesforce’s marketing offerings, will CDP be adopted by more B2B marketing organizations? A sizeable proportion (31%) of marketers struggle to execute account-based marketing (ABM) due to the lack of a unified view of customer data. Originally a B2C challenge, B2B marketers should take profile unification seriously, too:
Who hears the term “real-time” and now thinks “Genie”? Real-time dominated the second half of 2022.
With a ballooning number of data sources, marketers are tracking more metrics year on year, across every stage of the funnel. Speed to insight remains a competitive advantage, with 72% of high-performing marketers able to analyze marketing performance in real time.
So, there’s still some way to go. My opinion stands that plugging this gap is an 80/20 phenomenon – it’s 20% down to the technologies used, and 80% down to organizational alignment and data governance – in other words, getting everyone on the same page with what’s important to track, and why.
8. Web3, VR, AR Marketing Strategies
Connections ’22 already seems like a life-time ago. At Salesforce’s conference for marketers and commerce, NFT Cloud was officially announced, following rumors and backlash from Salesforce employees. Salesforce were spot-on with the messaging used to deliver the announcement – that security, privacy, and sustainability are at the core of NFT Cloud’s design. Salesforce have set a gold standard for all organizations exploring Web3 technologies.
At this point in time, the uptake is split down the middle between those who have an active Web3 strategy (51%) and those who plan to in the future (46%). What’s striking to me, is that only 3% don’t plan to have a Web3 strategy. 2023 is going to be an interesting year for Web3, that’s for sure.
9. Demand for Skilled Marketers
The conclusion I came to, when working with organizations grasping the basics, is the stark lack of skills to whip tools into shape for their specific set up. Marketing operations, analysts, and Salesforce marketing specialists are all relatively new career paths, in the grand scheme of things. My guess is that very few of us went to school to pursue the career path we ended up taking.
Add a volatile job market into the mix, and naturally, organizations are investing in their people to attract and retain employees. 71% of marketing leaders say that it’s harder to retain employees than it was a year ago. Without the specialists, the technology will lay barren.
10. Marketing Collaboration
So, it turned out that we didn’t all return to the office. Distributed teams are here to stay (flexibility is the primary request from employees across the organization), and the silver lining from the pandemic was that marketers can still collaborate effectively when not physically together.
We’ve united with collaboration technologies – an average of four per organization, according to Salesforce – and 70% of marketing leaders expect these investments will be permanent. We can reflect back to a time when “collaboration” wasn’t an investment that was expected to impact the bottom line.
Let’s take a look at how Slack has shaped the daily lives of marketers. In 2022, the Slack app for Marketing Cloud became generally available. The Pardot (Account Engagement) teams even said that the initial Pardot-Slack release at the tail-end of 2021 was only a taster of what’s to come. I expect more Slack connectivity will arrive in 2023.
These are the 10 trends I consider will shaping the Salesforce marketing landscape in 2023. All being said, we can’t paint every industry and region with the same brush; from my observations, the US economy is booming when compared to the situation in Europe.
Let’s focus on ironing out technology inefficiencies, data collection and processing, mastering a breadth of technologies relevant to your organization – oh, and focus on not getting burnt out.
- Salesforce “State of Marketing” report, 8th edition. Salesforce Research surveyed 6,000 marketing leaders across 35 countries. Platform data referenced in the report comes from aggregated data from the activity of over 2 trillion messages sent using the Salesforce Platform between 2020 to Q2 2022.
- Neil Patel, NP Digital (digital marketing agency and owner of Ubersuggest). Ubersuggest tracks millions of domains.