Marketing as a Revenue Generator

Over the last few weeks we’ve been sharing insights from the results of a global survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that explores the future of marketing. Now I’d like to take a closer look at the opinions of the SMB marketers who took part in this research and what they think the future of marketing looks like. Interestingly, their ideas about the future closely mirror those of their colleagues in large enterprises. SMB marketers are preparing for and expecting a lot more revenue responsibility. The research revealed that in the next three to five years, SMB marketers will be increasingly responsible for customer engagement and revenue generation. In addition, as the marketing landscape for businesses shifts, 82% of SMB marketers believe they need to change the structure of their marketing organization to meet the needs of the business.

Success will be based on whether marketers can create a personalized relationship with the customer that enables the right message to be delivered, at the right time—the era of engagement marketing is truly upon us.

Here are some of the key points that SMB marketers highlighted in the research:

Marketing will serve as the chief customer advocate.

More than three quarters of SMB marketers believe they will be responsible for the customer’s lifetime experience, from end-to-end, in the next 3-5 years. Central to that shift will be the marketer’s use of technology to manage customer engagement—today just over half of SMB marketers use data to gain insights and engage customers. But, in the next few years 80% of SMB marketers will use data to make connections with their customers.

SMB marketers will increasingly leverage technology to succeed.

A quarter of SMB respondents said they use up to 10 distinct marketing technologies systems and nearly all (99%) plan to invest in new technologies over the next year. Technology investment priorities for SMB marketers in the next 3-5 years include social marketing (41%), website personalization (24%), email marketing (27%) and marketing resource management (20%).

Marketing needs more digital skills and operational expertise.

More than 42% of SMB marketers agreed that the critical area in which they need to develop skills is strategy and planning. This was closely followed by skills in digital engagement (37%) and marketing operation and demand generation (35%). Only 15% said they need to develop creative or graphic design skills. While the traditional creative function will remain critical, SMB marketers see strategist, technologist and analyst roles as increasingly important.

Perception of marketing is changing.

A total of 68% of SMB marketers believe business owners currently view marketing as a cost center. However, 82% are optimistic that in 3-5 years marketing will be seen as a revenue generator.

Marketers will influence business strategy.

Interestingly, SMB marketers already play a significant role in their company’s strategy—almost three quarters believe marketing is shaping company strategy today. An increasing number (84%) believe marketing will shape company strategy in the next 3-5 years—demonstrating how critical marketing will be in executive decisions.

Although the pressure to demonstrate marketing’s impact on revenue is increasing, the good news is that survey results show that SMB marketers are embracing technology to create that connection. Regardless of company size, I believe marketers will have an increasingly important role to play in setting company strategy and future successes.

Take a look at our infographic below and if you want to learn more about the findings, check out the full report: The Rise of the Marketer: Driving Engagement, Experience and Revenue.

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