Introducing the Future of Marketing Research Series: U.S. Highlights

Three co-workers are comparing results and developing a strategy

Nearly every aspect of marketing is undergoing significant change — from how marketers reach and engage new customers and measure success to the talent they hire and the business functions they touch.

To better understand how the practice of marketing and its impact is evolving, Adobe undertook a global research project. We surveyed 6,000 consumers, marketing practitioners and marketing leaders across six countries (U.S., UK, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan) on a range of topics from personalization to cookieless to social commerce.

With marketers working harder than ever before – 85 percent of U.S. marketing leaders say their scope of responsibility has risen by an average of 37 percent over the last five years and 77 percent expect it to increase another 37 percent in the next 12-18 months – we’ve taken a broad view into the top areas marketers own and influence. This inaugural post provides highlights from the U.S. data.

Customer experience: Optimism meets opportunity

Creating amazing digital experiences is the goal of every marketer. But it’s not easy to accomplish — especially at the scale and speed of today’s customer expectations and amidst the disruption of the last 18 months. Despite that, nearly ALL marketers (94 percent) say their companies are good or excellent at delivering personalized experiences. Consumers, however, see room for growth. When asked whether their digital experiences had improved over the last 12 months, only 37 percent say their experiences have gotten better, while 63 percent say they’ve stayed the same or gotten worse.

Personalization: Room for improvement

About two-thirds of consumers value personalization, but more than 30 percent of consumers don’t value it at all. Part of the reason may lie in the execution. While a significant majority — 94 percent — of brands say delivering personalized experiences at scale is a top priority, they admit they’re only personalizing between 25 percent and 50 percent of marketing content versus a target of 50 percent to 75 percent.

Trust: Brands and consumers have different perspectives

Earning consumer trust is more important than ever before in the brand-customer relationship, the research reveals brands may not be focused on the right priorities. Consumers ranked asking permission to use their data as the #1 most important step, giving them control of how their data is used and being open and transparent tying for #2. However, marketers ranked personalization as the #1 way to earn customers’ trust (customers placed it last) and ranked giving customers control over their data near the bottom.

Content & Channels: Brands prioritizing rich content, exploring emerging channels

With customers consuming more digital content than ever before, brands are turning to new (and in some cases, legacy) content types and channels to differentiate customer experiences. About two-thirds of brands say that over the next 12-18 months, they plan to incorporate video (66 percent), 3D graphics (66 percent), and VR/AR (61 percent) into their marketing and merchandising efforts. They’re also exploring emerging channels over the next year-and-a-half: 31 percent say they’re considering IoT, 26 percent mobile, and 12 percent auto. While these new channels may get the spotlight, most consumers (61 percent) still prefer brands to communicate with them via email.

Social commerce: Poised for a “take-off”

When it comes to social shopping, 95 percent of marketers say this holiday season is the year social commerce will “take-off.” Younger consumers agree, with 39 percent of Gen Zers and 25 percent of Millennials saying they’ll be shopping via social channels “a lot more” in the coming year. For current social shopping habits, consumers rank Instagram, Facebook and Ticktock (in that order) as their preferred channels.

AI/ML: Marketers embracing, but still new to the game

While 58 percent of marketers say they’re still new to using and getting value from artificial intelligence and machine learning, the large majority (98 percent) embrace and experiment with the technology in their marketing and CX activities. Only 2 percent say they aren’t using AI/ML at all.

Cookieless: Lack of urgency preventing readiness

Despite increasing pressure from consumer expectations, government regulations and the pending demise of third-party cookies, brands don’t appear to feel much urgency to shift gears. Ninety-four percent of marketers are still using third-party cookies for important marketing and CX functions, and only 57 percent are testing first-party data strategies. And when it comes to data governance, 59 percent of marketing leaders say they are very concerned with their team’s ability to properly govern data and comply with their customers’ preferences.

These insights are just a small taste of what the Future of Marketing Research Series revealed. Stay tuned in the coming months for more data from across the globe, including a deeper dive into the changing role of email, how trust and loyalty are evolving, and a look at how expectations and behaviors differ between generations.