New Research Highlights Digital Trends for 2018

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Econsultancy recently released its 2018 Digital Trends report (published in association with Adobe). This report is based on a global survey of nearly 13,000 marketing, creative, and technology professionals. Sixty percent of the respondents were from the client-side ("company marketers"), and 40% were affiliated with agencies, consulting firms, technology vendors, and other types of marketing services firms.

Econsultancy has been conducting the digital trends survey annually for eight years, and it's consistently one of the largest surveys regarding digital marketing trends that I see.

As part of the 2018 study, Econsultancy identified a group of successful organizations in order to compare the behaviors of these top-performing companies with their mainstream peers. Econsultancy defined top-performing companies as those that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin and also significantly outperformed their competitors.

Customer Experience Remains the Prime Directive
The 2018 study revealed that customer experience remains at the top of the agenda for many marketers. When company marketers were asked to identify the single most exciting opportunity for their organization in 2018, the top three choices were:

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  1. Optimizing the customer experience (19% of respondents)
  2. Data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual (16%)
  3. Creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%)
When you consider that both insights from data and compelling content are integral to delivering great customer experiences, it's fair to say that fully 49% of these survey respondents see optimizing the customer experience as their most significant opportunity for 2018.
Other findings from the research confirm the overarching importance of customer experience. The survey asked participants to rank seven areas in order of priority for their organization in 2018. Survey respondents ranked content and experience management as their top strategic priority for this year. Forty-five percent of respondents ranked content and experience management as one of their three most important priority areas, and 20% said it was their primary focus.

Other Significant Findings
The 2018 Digital Trends report addresses several other important topics. Here are some of the other significant findings:

  • Sixty percent of respondents said that digital permeates most or all of their marketing activities, and another 11% said they are a "digital-first organization."
  • Most respondents said their organization will invest in digital skills and education in 2018, but top-performing companies are twice as likely to be investing significantly in those areas, compared to their mainstream peers (45% vs. 23%).
  • The largest group of respondents (43%) said their marketing technology stack is "fragmented" with "inconsistent integration between technologies." However, top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have a highly integrated, cloud-based marketing/customer experience technology stack.
Survey Demographics
It's important to make a couple of points about the demographics of the participants in the Econsultancy study. First, this study was somewhat European centric. Forty-four percent of the survey respondents were based in Europe. The next three largest geographies represented were Asia (21%), North America (16%), and Australia/New Zealand (12%). 
Second, this study did not focus exclusively on B2B companies. However, 31% of the company marketers were affiliated with B2B enterprises, and another 36% were with hybrid B2B and B2C organizations.
If you're involved in B2B marketing, the 2018 Digital Trends report is well worth your time.

Illustration courtesy of Jamie Spencer via Flickr CC.

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