Marketing is changing as quickly as the digital ecosystem. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top marketing statistics, trends, and research that affect marketers in 2019, 2020, and years ahead.
The research below focuses on:
- Both B2B and B2C marketing statistics
- Marketing statistics related to specific marketing fields — namely, content marketing, video marketing, and influencer marketing
- Statistics that cover the overlap between marketing and the customer experience
- Technology’s role in driving successful marketing efforts
Among many other things.
Summary and Top Takeaways
Here are the top trends and takeaways that I discovered:
The highest-performing marketers use sophisticated technology as well as tactics. In-depth audience research, integrated technology stacks, well-developed marketing strategies, and analytics are a few approaches that set the highest performers apart from their peers.
Content marketing remains as one of the most effective, dominant marketing strategies. Long-form content and lead magnets, such as white papers and ebooks, are among the most influential types of marketing content. The most successful content marketers create documented strategies, research their audience thoroughly, collaborate closely with other departments, and focus on delivering the right content at the appropriate stage of the funnel.
Investment in video marketing continues to accelerate. The video marketing industry itself is expected to grow by double digits through 2021. The majority of marketers who use video marketing say that it delivers positive ROI. Most marketers use it to explain products or services, boost website traffic, and generate leads.
Influencer marketing is still a profitable, widely-used marketing approach. Influencer marketing has grown by orders of magnitude, nearly quadrupling in size since 2016. The majority of marketers who use influencer marketing use it to increase awareness, sales, and libraries of user-generated content.
The customer experience is still a major strategic focus for marketers, as well as other business functions. Marketing research agrees that the customer experience is a competitive differentiator. The highest-performing marketers and businesses take advanced approaches to the customer experience. However, challenges remain: though many customers expect better experiences from businesses, they also want more control and transparency around their data.
Marketing Statistics and Trends for 2019 and 2020
My approach is – as it has always been – is to gain a big-picture perspective on marketing trends, strategies, and tactics.
To that end, I reviewed an eclectic mix of marketing statistics and reports that spanned several industries and topics.
My findings are broken down according to topic.
Characteristics of Top-Performing Marketers
The 5th edition of Salesforce’s State of Marketing contains a number of statistics that show which behaviors get the best results.
In this survey, the highest performers focused on internal collaboration, developing a sophisticated customer journey map, and working with sophisticated technology stacks:
- 56% actively mapped the customer journey
- 93% have integrated marketing-advertising technology stacks
- 55% build budgets with the advertising teams
- High-performers are 7.3X more likely to be completely satisfied with their ability to use data to create more relevant experiences
- They are also 9.7X more likely to be completely satisfied with their ability to personalize omni-channel experiences
- And they are 1.4X more likely than their peers to say that traditional approaches to marketing measurements are no longer effective
However, internal collaboration with other teams and real-time, multi-channel engagement with customers is average at best:
- 52% of marketers share metrics with sales teams
- 52% engage customers in real-time across one or more channels
- 50% of marketing and commerce teams share common goals and metrics
- 55% of marketing teams collaborate with service teams to manage and respond to inquiries or issues via social
This report offers a few important takeaways.
One is that the customer experience makes a big difference in marketing results.
Another is that the use of technology – such as integrated marketing and advertising tech stacks – plays an important role in helping marketers gain an edge.
When it comes to the customer experience, for instance, the right technology can help marketers build unified customer views, deliver personalized experiences, and create better customer experiences.
Marketers’ Top Priorities
According to Marketo’s most recent State of Pipeline Marketing report, marketers biggest priorities were:
- Lead generation and demand (34.9%)
- Turning leads into customers and revenue (33.4%)
- Sales and marketing alignment (11.7%)
- Improvement of measurement and attribution (8.3%)
Respondents to B2B marketing research by Ascend2 found that in 2019, marketers’ biggest aims included:
- Increasing sales prospects or leads (64%)
- Acquiring more customers (55%)
- Increasing customer engagement (49%)
- Improving brand awareness (39%)
Of course, different marketing styles often have different objectives.
Content marketing, video marketing, and influencer marketing, for example, all tend to focus on their own set of unique aims (see below for those stats).
Content marketing remains one of the most prevalent, effective marketing tactics in both B2B and B2C ecosystems:
- 91% of marketers use content marketing, according to a 2018 B2B content marketing report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
- The Connecticut Tourism Board used content marketing to drive nearly 50% of its tourism website traffic (approximately 50 pieces of content per month)
- For 58% of marketers in Ascend2’s report, content marketing is the most effective marketing tactic (58%), followed by SEO and email marketing (50% and 47% respectively)
The biggest content marketing objectives included:
- Lead generation (72%)
- Audience engagement (77%)
- Increasing sales (51%)
- Decreasing the cost of customer acquisition (25%)
CMI’s report also discovered that the highest-performing content marketers shared a few common characteristics:
- 89% were extremely or very committed to content marketing
- 73% had sophisticated or mature content marketing approaches
- 62% had documented content marketing strategies
- 55% measured the ROI of their content marketing efforts
Top factors that contribute to the success of content marketing efforts included:
- The quality and efficiency of content creation (78%)
- Strategy adjustment or development (72%)
- Adjustments to areas such as distribution and targeting (50%)
Challenges and obstacles to content marketing are covered below.
Types of Content Used in Marketing
The same report found that the most commonly used content types were:
- Social posts (94%)
- Case studies (73%)
- Videos (72%)
- Ebooks or white papers (71%)
- Infographics (65%)
- Illustrations or photos (56%)
- Research reports (37%)
To name just a few.
According to that survey, books, white papers, and case studies were among the most successful content types.
However, I’d also like to reference a slightly older study (way back in the dark ages of 2015) to demonstrate an important point – there is often a discrepancy between consumption and influence.
In that survey by Eccolo Media, tech buyers evaluated purchases by reading:
- Product sheets and brochures (57%)
- Emails (52%)
- White papers (52%)
- Competitive vendor worksheets (42%)
- Case studies and success stories (42%)
However, the order changed when respondents ranked content types by how influential they were:
- Product sheets and brochures (39%)
- White papers (33%)
- Case studies and success stories (31%)
- Detailed tech guides or implementation scenarios (23%)
- Competitive vendor worksheets (22%)
With email clocking in further down the list at 15%.
Considering the complexity of most B2B solutions and sales cycles, these statistics certainly make sense.
Emails can be more influential in the more emotionally-driven B2C marketing arena.
However, emails clearly can’t deliver the same depth, substance, or gravity offered by product sheets, white papers, or case studies.
A 2019 survey by Wyzowl offered a few insights into video marketing trends.
It should come as no surprise that video marketing is on the rise:
- 87% of survey respondents use video marketing
- 91% consider it an important part of their marketing strategy
- 83% say video delivers good ROI
- 88% planned to increase video marketing spend in 2019
Common uses of video marketing include:
- Helping users understand a business’s products or services (94%)
- Increasing website traffic (84%)
- Generating leads (81%)
- Boosting website dwell time (80%)
Among other things.
As with any other marketing tactic, though, video marketing comes with its own challenges and concerns.
For instance, 90% of Wyzowl’s respondents claimed that competition and noise has increased over the past year.
And those marketers who don’t use video at all cited reasons such as:
- A lack of time (23%)
- Not knowing where to start (21%)
- Lack of clarity on video ROI (14%)
- Video is too expensive (12%)
However, given the benefits of video, it’s no surprise that video marketing will continue to grow.
Nearly 3 in 4 survey respondents planned increase video marketing spend in the coming year.
Influencer marketing – leveraging the reach of online personalities and celebrities – still remains a major marketing tactic for many companies.
Here are some marketing statistics I found in the 2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report:
- The influencer marketing industry has grown from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $6.5 billion in 2019
- Search volume for “influencer marketing” rose from 3,900 in 2015 to 61,000 in 2018
- 92% of the report’s respondents believe that influencer marketing is effective
- 62% plan to increase their influencer marketing budget
The most common marketing objectives for influencer marketing were:
- Increase awareness
- Increase sales
- Increase their library of user-generated content
Challenges and concerns around influencer marketing included:
- Brand safety (49%)
- Justifying influencer marketing spend (57%)
- Finding suitable influencers (36%)
Based on these statistics and trends, it is clear that influencer marketing will continue to be a valuable marketing tool for many businesses.
The Ever-Important Customer Experience
A 2019 report by Adobe and Econsultancy confirmed what many marketing professionals already know … the customer experience has been – and continues to be – a strategic priority for many businesses.
- Organizations classifying themselves as “very advanced” at the customer experience were 3X more likely to exceed their 2018 business goals by a significant margin
- Customer experience leaders are 4.5X more likely to have highly integrated, cloud-based technology stacks
- Top customer-related marketing priorities include “improving customer intelligence and insights for a holistic customer view” (42%) and “customer journey management” (33%)
- Respondents claimed that “delivering personalized experiences in real-time” was the most exciting opportunity in 3 years’ time
- Customer experience leaders were 2X more likely to be using AI than their competitors
Salesforce’s 3rd Edition of the State of the Connected Customer reiterated that businesses must keep up with the changing trends, demands, and expectations of customers.
Among those who responded to their survey:
- 73% of customers said that a single extraordinary experience raised expectations of other companies
- 75% expect businesses to use new technology to create better experiences
- 54% say that it’s harder than ever for companies to earn their trust
- 73% say that ethics matter more than they did the year before
The survey also demonstrated that good customer experiences deliver positive ROI:
- 84% said that the experience is as important as the products or services
- 66% were willing to pay more for a great experience
- 71% expect real-time communication
- 76% say a company’s use of technology indicates how it operates in general
In short, the customer experience is not just “icing on the cake” – it is a strategic priority.
Customer Experience, Meet IT
Marketers aren’t the only ones concerned with the customer experience.
Another report by Salesforce suggested that IT is become more involved with the customer experience – increasing IT’s importance when it comes to meeting customer expectations.
(Given technology’s central role in modern marketing … and the increasing need for integration among various business functions … I thought marketing professionals would find this information useful.)
Salesforce’s 2017 State of the IT Report found that:
- 89% believe that IT is entering a customer expectation-driven era
- 79% believe IT is the primary enabler of CX initiatives
- High-performers were 1.6X more likely to say that customer-facing technology is a critical or high priority
- 70% said customer satisfaction scores are a high priority
- 77% see IT as an extension of the business unit rather than as a separate function
- High-performing IT leaders are 4X more likely to align strategic priorities across business units
- They were 4.4X more likely to rate improving the employee experience as a critical priority
- And they were 3.2X more likely to rate providing a single view of the customer as a critical priority
In this survey, the highest performers felt that the most important technology trends included:
- Business Intelligence
- Internet of Things
- Artificial Intelligence
- Low-code / visual development
Technologies such as these will certainly impact virtually every business function, including marketing.
The Role of the Offline Customer Experience
The customer experience isn’t limited the digital experience, however.
Research from Mood Media presents some marketing statistics that many will find unsurprising – in-store experiences can significantly influence purchase decisions:
- 78% of consumers claim that “an enjoyable store atmosphere” is a key factor in choosing brick-and-mortar over ecommerce
- 90% say they are more likely to revisit a business that leverages music, visuals, and scent
- 56% claim that the ability to touch and try different products or services is the biggest driver in making them want to make in-store purchases
Though Mood Media’s research tends to focus on the B2C experience, it is important to consider that these same factors almost certainly apply in B2B scenarios.
Top Challenges to Delivering Great Customer Experiences
Despite the strategic importance of delivering good customer experiences, many organizations are failing to meet customers’ expectations:
- Only 42% of content marketers actually talk to customers to research and develop personas, according to 2019 B2B research by CMI.
- The digital trends report by Adobe and Econsultancy also said that businesses are slow to use AI to improve the customer experience. Customer experience leaders are 2X more likely to use AI than their competitors, but businesses are still hesitant. Reasons for holding back include “no perceived need” (33%), a “lack of knowledge on how they can use AI” (37%), and not yet assessing how they could use AI (38%).
- The same report found that organizations classifying themselves as “very advanced” at CX are almost 3X more likely to have exceeded their 2018 business goals by a significant margin – but only 10% of respondents regard themselves as advanced at CX or digital-first.
Salesforce’s report on the connected customer also said that customers expected better experiences from brands:
- 54% felt that businesses should transform the way they engage with customers
- 62% expect companies to adapt based on customers’ actions and behavior – but only 47% of brands actually do
- 52% said that companies were generally impersonal
Additionally, the Salesforce report addressed a common concern for many customers – privacy.
As marketing professionals know, personal data allows businesses to deliver more personalized experiences and more targeted marketing.
However, this presents marketers with a paradox.
Too much data collection and user profiling can be considered invasive and “creepy.”
Too little data, however, makes it difficult to create personalized customer experiences – which many customers expect.
The Salesforce report offered some insights and ideas about how to balance customers’ privacy needs against their desire for personalization:
- 69% of customers expect connected experiences (which, as many marketers know, requires detailed analytics and a unified view of a customer, across devices and channels)
- 62% are open to the use of AI for improved experiences
- 73% say that trust in companies matters more than it did a year ago
- 46% feel they have lost control over their own data
- 63% feel that customers aren’t transparent about how their data is used
Clearly, marketers must walk a fine line.
On the one hand, customers expect real-time, personalized experiences.
On the other, they want more control and transparency around how their data is collected and used.
The takeaway: companies that keep customer data secure … and are transparent about how they use that data … will be the most likely to earn customer trust and loyalty.
Top Challenges and Concerns for Marketers
According to Ascend2’s report, the most difficult marketing tactics include:
- Data-driven personalization (63%)
- Content marketing (49%)
- The use of martech (41%)
- SEO (40%)
- 49% of respondents also report that engaging customers online is a challenging barrier to success
- And 47% reported that measurement of marketing efforts was a challenge
Failing to effectively measure marketing efforts, though, can cause problems, according to Pipeline Marketing:
- 44% are unsure of their current average marketing ROI
- 28.6% don’t use an attribution model
- 53.1% of marketing departments are viewed as cost centers, not revenue centers
The report concluded by asserting that too many marketers optimize for lead volume, not lead quality.
This can create problems such as misalignment with sales, inefficient media spend, and marketing being viewed as a cost center.
Top Marketing Metrics and KPIs Used in 2019
Finally, we’ll look at how marketers measure their efforts.
The State of Pipeline Marketing Report’s respondents used marketing metrics such as:
- Opportunities (25.5%)
- ROI (15.3%)
- Revenue (14.7%)
- MQL (12.6%)
- Leads (12.3%)
In a 2016 report by CMI, the most-used content marketing metrics included:
- Web traffic / visits (56%)
- Views / downloads (52%)
- Social media sharing / liking (40%)
- Engagement / Time spent with content (39%)
- Lead quality (37%)
- Lead quantity (35%)
- Opportunities (33%)
- Customer feedback (32%)
- Revenue (30%)
- SEO / Search ranking (27%)
- Subscriber growth (26%)
However, in their 2019 report, CMI didn’t cover specific metrics that marketers used.
Instead, the research focused on:
- Whether businesses measured content marketing ROI (72% of the top-performers do)
- And how content marketers rated their proficiency with their chosen metrics (25% reported that their teams were very/extremely proficient)
This makes sense – after all, the metrics used will vary depending on the marketing objectives.
As these marketing statistics show, the more sophisticated the marketing approach – attribution, documented content marketing strategies, deep audience research, high quality content – the better the marketing results.
However, digital transformation is also fueling the evolution of the marketing department.
Today, marketing outcomes depend a great deal on marketers’ ability to use digital tools to deliver experiences that are personalized, consistent, and engaging.
To keep up and stay ahead, marketers should strive to implement sophisticated marketing strategies that are centered around the customer and powered by technology.