Small to midsize businesses (SMB) are gaining ground on their larger competitors, and the marketing programs they have in play is one big reason why. A new study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Marketo, concludes that SMB marketers will become even more integral to their companiesin 2016 as they better leverage data and technology to personalize the customer experience, which in turn will have an important bottom-line impact. The survey of 478 senior marketing executives verifies numerous encouraging trends for SMB marketers, including:
- A Shift to Big-Picture Thinking: To stay competitive in the next 3-5 years, SMB marketers should focus on improving their skills in strategy and planning, marketing operations, demand generation and digital engagement.
- From Cost Center to Revenue Generator: While the majority (68%) of marketers still believe they are perceived by the rest of their business as a cost center, they are optimistic this perception is changing for the better, as their colleagues better understand the value and impact marketing is making to their companies. To this end, 84% of marketers believe their department will help shape company strategy, 82% say their department will be viewed as a revenue driver, and 76% believe they’ll be responsible for the complete customer experience. As opposed to more vague metrics such as brand awareness, the primary metrics for gauging marketing success in the years ahead will be revenue impact and customer engagement.
- Continued Investment to Overcome Challenges: Almost all (99%) of SMB marketers will continue to invest in 2016 to solve their challenges and shortcomings. The tophurdles include insufficient budget (37%), hard-to-measure ROI (27%), managing the shift to digital media (26%) and acquiring new skills (22%) to meet job demands.
- Tech Priorities Differ for SMB Marketers: While larger companies (revenue over $5 billion) are able to invest in slick market automation systems and analytics tools, SMB marketers have to be more frugal and impactful with their smaller budgets. As such, they will focus on investments with more perceived immediate ROI, such associal marketing (41%), email marketing (27%), website personalization (24%) and marketing resource management (19%).
The discipline of marketing continues to change, but SMB marketers will have the ability to make more of an impact on their company’s bottom lines in the coming year, compared to their larger-company colleagues. But their ability to directly contribute has a flip side: they will be also more closely measured and will need to show real returns on their marketing investments. To be successful, these marketers will need to understand how to capitalize on technology and data to show the positive results of their hard work, and better engage their customers to help move them through their buying journeys.
Marketo is offering an infographic that spells out the shifts in SMB marketing in greater detail. Take a look at it here.
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