Yesterday morning, Adweek published my piece on the trends that’ll propel marketers forward in 2018. You’ll often see many articles like this at the beginning of a new year, but some of them read more like imaginative guesses or wishful speculation rather than insights you can walk away with.

We’re data-driven and insight-focused at Salesforce, so I’d like to share some of the research that informed my recent article and how we see the future of marketing. As you’ll come to find out, many of the trends highlighted in Adweek are supported by marketers who contributed to our Fourth Annual State of Marketing released last summer. Similarly, our Digital Advertising 2020 report, unveiled at the AdExchanger Industry Preview earlier this month, reveals this year’s big advertising trends as heard directly from advertising leaders around the world.

Here’s a deeper dive into the Adweek article, looking at some of the data and reasonings behind why we’re headed into “marketing’s golden age.”


Trend #1: Marketers go full throttle on AI

As I mention in Adweek, AI is already transforming every industry and marketers are eager to reap its benefits. It’s not difficult to see why there will be a surge in adoption. AI is more accessible than ever before and marketers increasingly need AI to meet consumer demands for personalized experiences. 51 percent of marketing leaders are already using AI, with 27 percent planning to pilot it in the next two years. Of those that use it, 57 percent consider it as absolutely essential or very important in helping create personalized and connected consumer engagements across touchpoints.


Trend #2: Companies will take breaking down silos seriously

While marketing has owned the majority of consumer touchpoints, companies are increasingly aware that the consumer journey spans multiple functions — marketing, service, sales, among others — in an always-on, always-connected world. In order to deliver exceptional brand experiences across all channels, companies will prioritize cross-functional collaboration and re-design go-to-market processes to enable cohesive consumer journeys. As companies continue to integrate processes in 2018, they’ll prioritize inter- and intradepartmental collaboration to drive cohesive consumer journeys across the brand. A lion’s share of marketers agree that their own teams must redefine how they work together. In fact, 64 percent of marketing leaders believe customer journey strategies require organizational shifts. A big part of breaking down silos entails not just combining data sources to form a true 360-view of each individual consumer, but also leveraging intelligence from across organizations to create connected consumer experiences at scale.


Trend #3: Integrated data will fuel consumer engagement

As of September 2017, two-thirds of the world’s population—or five billion people—are connected by mobile devices. That’s a colossal amount of valuable data generated, and that’s just data from mobile engagements; consumers also leave waves of data across a range of devices and channels, as well as offline. However, without the right capabilities to decipher the insights from all that consumer data, marketers aren’t able to leverage its full power. That’s why they’re turning to data management platforms (DMPs) that allow them to store, manage, and analyze consumer data from multiple sources. Far exceeding critical mass, 91 percent of advertisers have now adopted or plan to use a DMP in the next year. With integrated DMPs, companies can create targeted marketing campaigns that deliver more relevant experiences to consumers.


Trend #4: Advertising will get smarter

Having access to more data, as well as the convergence of advertising and marketing technology, shaped brand communications and engagement in 2017. These trends will gain more momentum this year along with new rising ones. For example, while companies will continue to invest in collecting and leveraging their first-party data, we'll also see a rise in second-party publisher data deals designed to enhance and expand their addressable audiences. Over the next two years, advertisers’ use of second-party data will grow by 26 percent. Having multiple sources of inputs for decision-making and targeting the right audience, with the right message, at the right time empowers advertisers to more effectively orchestrate consumer engagement across touchpoints.


Trend #5: Thinking about mobile first

Email continues to be a marketing powerhouse, exhibiting an 83 percent growth over the last two years. Marketers will continue to pursue personalization strategies with an emphasis on hyper-targeted, dynamic email content custom-fit for mobile devices. Such strategies offer marketers opportunity to respond quickly with timely, relevant content applying demographic, location, and affinity data. High-performing marketing teams are 2.3x more likely than underperformers to trigger personalized emails in real time based on events. Not only does real-time contextual content solve for the problem of keeping emails up-to-date, no matter when, where or how they are opened, it also creates urgency, spurring a consumer into action.



To read the full trends piece in Adweek, click here.