Earlier this year, Marketo released the results from a brief online survey of marketers, outlining their marketing plans for 2018—and those findings can not only help you determine where you currently stand, but can give you some insights on what you need to do to move ahead of the pack. Let’s take a look at how the average marketer answered each question and talk about what you need to do differently to gain a bit of competitive edge.

Finding: Only 1% of marketers personalize all of their content and 11% of marketers don’t personalize any of their content. Most marketers are somewhere in the middle: 19% personalize the majority of their content and 70% personalize some of their content.

  1. What to do: Other survey results have showed time and again that consumers are interested in doing business with brands that personalize content. Consider this: one survey found that half of shoppers made impulse buys after being given a personalized recommendation and 44% will become repeat buyers after personalized experiences. So what’s the lesson here? The brands that do personalization—and do it early, often and well—stand to have a lot to gain in terms of short-term revenue and long-term loyalty. Your customers want it and they’re willing to vote with their wallets; why not make personalization a priority?

Finding: Half of marketers surveyed anticipate their 2018 budgets to increase, while 11% believe they will decrease and 39% think their budget will remain the same.

  1. What to do: If you’re in the 50% of marketers who are getting an increase in your budget this year, make sure you’re spending that money wisely. As we’ve mentioned before the overall trend is toward spending on tools and technology that helps marketers prove the value of their activities on the bottom line, so spending on analytics, consulting services and other training that empowers the team to make more confident, informed decisions is a good bet.

    And if your budget remains the same or is shrinking, smart investments in outside help can actually help you save money elsewhere in your budget by keeping you from making expensive missteps with unnecessary tools or technology. Before you axe your outside consulting firm, ensure you’ve squeezed every ounce of value and knowledge from them; oftentimes, they bring a scope of knowledge and skill set that your internal team cannot.

Finding: Marketers say an improved ability to track ROI (28%) and better sales and marketing alignment (24%) are the top two things that will have an impact on their business in 2018, followed by better integration within my martech stack (13%), aligning marketing activities to corporate business objectives (12%) and leveraging innovative marketing practices (10%).

  1. What to do: With an increased emphasis on tracking and reporting on ROI comes an increased focus on ensuring that all of the data—both the data that is being gathered and the data being generated—is as accurate as possible. After all, if you’re aligning your sales and marketing teams and using your shared data to make it happen, it’s imperative that your martech stack is functioning not just properly but optimally so that everyone on your team can make informed decisions based on meaningful numbers. One bad algorithm, one piece of fuzzy logic or one lowered lead score could make the difference between a successful campaign or one that falls flat and underdelivers.

    The increasing reliance on data means that the savviest of marketers—even those who don’t appear to be experiencing any issues—are requesting martech optimization audits as a check up on the overall health of their existing setup. Rather than wait until a problem or crisis develops, a proactive optimization audit gives CMOs the confidence that their martech technology is performing as well as possible, consistently delivering meaningful, actionable insights.

Finding: Only 37% of marketers say that their marketing activities are integrated into their customer journey “well” or “pretty well”. Most marketers (44%) say they’re integrated “OK” and 19% say they aren’t integrated well at all.

  1. What to do: It’s no secret that engaged customers are happy customers, and that happy customers become loyal customers, and that loyal, happy customers help attract other customers, driving revenue, improving retention rates and potentially even advocating for your brand. So what’s stopping your team from integrating marketing activities into the entire customer journey?

    As the CMO, the biggest thing you can do to support an integrated approach to customer engagement is to make sure that everyone in the C-suite is on board with a customer-first approach being embedded in the company’s DNA. By embracing a customer-centric approach from the top down, you’ll be empowering your team to take whatever steps necessary to put your customers’ needs front and center, getting their data out of siloes, mapping out non-linear experiences and eliminating anything that jeopardizes customer trust.