Four marketing technology lessons via Salesforce's State of Marketing report

As marketing and technology blend together, enterprises will have to deploy artificial intelligence to keep up and maintain budgets.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor
Image: Salesforce

Marketers are increasingly using more channels to reach customers, pondering their strategy for artificial intelligence and augmenting email, which delivers solid returns, with new technologies.

Those takeaways were among the highlights of a survey conducted by Salesforce. Executives walked through the findings with a customer at Salesforce's New York office.

Salesforce's State of Marketing Report is based on a survey of 3,500 marketing pros in the US, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The survey was based on Salesforce customers, but likely applies to a broader set of marketing professionals.

Here are some key takeaways:

AI usage "light to medium." Yes, Salesforce's report notes that 51 percent of marketers surveyed are already using AI. But Katie Bisbee, chief marketing officer of Donorschoose.org, said her usage of AI is light to medium. Machine learning is being used for lookalikes in campaigns, but the Salesforce survey didn't go deep on how AI was being used. Bisbee noted that there is a bit of a trust issue when it comes to creating models and algorithms behind AI and humans want to oversee things. Nevertheless, "personalization is an expectation as the boundaries of e-commerce and philanthropy close," she said.


Yet AI will be needed to manage media fragmentation and channel sprawl. Jon Suarez-Davis, chief strategy officer for Salesforce, said media has become more fragmented than every with multiple channels and the advance of the Internet of things and connected devices. Data markets will be critical to personalization and unifying various databases. All of that is true, but it's worth noting that all of the key marketing vendors -- Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, and others -- would like the customer to standardize on one data marketplace and a stack.


Email still matters as marketing channels proliferate. Bisbee noted that email remains the biggest conversion opportunity for landing donors. Ultimately, data marketplaces and email management will merge. While email has proven its return on investment, Suarez-Davis noted that 34 percent of respondents were investing in channels that they didn't know about five years ago. That reality made me wonder at what point do enterprises prune channels. Meghann York, director of product marketing at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, said that each customer journey is different. However, companies are starting to organize around a customer's first six months with an enterprise and then for other parts of the customer lifecycle, said York. That customer audit will reveal what channels are being used by customers. "Marketers don't have to be in every channel just the right ones," said Suarez-Davis.

Salesforce's survey highlighted how respondents were going for an "email plus" approach.


The CMO is becoming the chief growth officer and that reality changes structures. Suarez-Davis said that marketing chiefs are increasingly tethered to a chief technology officer or chief information officer. Given the emergence of marketing technology these roles increasingly become intertwined. In the end, there's really no choice. Marketers highlighted the following emerging technologies:

Bottom line is that you can't really implement those technologies without marketing and tech vision and experience.

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