Every year, Salesforce.com releases its annual “State of Marketing” report giving insight into what top global marketers are thinking, what channels they are investing in, and where they see the future. The survey also contrasts the strategies of top marketers with those of underperformers and those with more moderate performance.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the report:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise. While we might associate AI with the voice of the federation computer aboard Star Trek’s Voyager One, it is increasingly being used in everyday marketing to understand customer behavior, anticipate customer needs, and improve targeting. Marketers’ ability to anticipate and respond to customer patterns is improving rapidly thanks to improvements in this technology. AI is popping up in all of the marketing surveys lately, and MSPs would benefit from understanding how and when they can use AI to benefit their own clients.
  2. MSPs must be working towards helping customers develop a single customer view. While printers cannot be expected to be experts in every marketing channel, customers don’t act in silos (or even pairs of silos, such as print and email) anymore. Customers reveal different aspects of themselves in different channels, or in how they combine channels, along their customer journeys. Look only at one data set and you are likely to get a skewed view—and send your customers on wild goose chases when it comes to accurate targeting and personalization. Getting that unified customer view requires pulling (or helping your customers pull) data from different sources.
  3. Marketers are increasingly competing on customer experience, and you need accurate targeting and personalization to make that happen. This goes back to a single customer view/multichannel integration thing. A previous Salesforce.com study found that, in the B2C marketplace, 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications to them. In the B2B marketplace, this rises to 65%. Keep in mind that “personalization” these days is a multichannel, responsive process. It’s not a “once and done” direct mail campaign.
  4. Get on board with mobile and social media marketing. These channels are as much a part of the mix today as direct mail and email. If your customers aren’t integrating these channels into their marketing mix, it’s like trying to drive in a car with only two wheels. There are very few customers these days you can reach effectively with only direct mail and email. According to the study, marketing leaders (on average) say 34% of their budget is now being spent on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago. This is expected to rise to 40% by 2019. The fastest growing channels in both B2B and B2C? Video advertising. According to Salesforce.com research, in B2B, video is up 204% between 2015-2017. In B2C, it is up 141%. In both cases, video is outpacing text, email, mobile apps, native advertising, and social media.
  5. You need technology to keep up. The demands of today’s multichannel and highly responsive, personalized marketing takes more than a good database. It takes marketing automation that can automate lead scoring, triggered mail and email blasts, and help you analyze and respond to what can be learned from clients’ social media activity. This goes beyond what humans, alone, can keep up with. If you haven’t invested in marketing automation, it’s time to play catch-up.

Is “retooling” on your list of New Year’s resolutions? If not, perhaps it should be.