Navigating through the marketing jungle - What are the major trends, skills and tools?

Charlotte Malz
Head of Marketing, BSI

Hyper-personalized service 24/7. Customers with a growing sense of information fatigue. A rapidly growing MarTech landscape. These are only three of the many challenges marketers face today, making it all the more important to focus and set priorities. Together with the Swiss Marketing Forum, we took the pulse of Swiss marketers* to find out what the critical trends in lead and customer management are and what is only hot air, what marketers have to accomplish today, and what tools they need to do so. We have summarized the results of the mood barometer for you here.

The customer experience as the focal point

Customers expect companies to keep up with the digital pioneers that have raised the bar in terms of personalization, innovation and customer experience. We wanted to know how customer-oriented companies in Switzerland are and what it takes to deliver a successful customer experience (CX).


It appears that the respondents’ companies are still taking a wide range of approaches to customer orientation. While about 32% of respondents said that the customer experience is at the core of their company’s business model, another 32% identified it as a project on the department level. 10% reported that their company has a dedicated CX department. When asked what their companies need the most today to ensure a successful CX, a majority of respondents specified that they needed the right mindset for more customer orientation. This response was followed by the need for a CX strategy and a state-of-the-art CRM system. The respondents rated these factors as more important than using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase automation or even having more data analysis specialists.

Trendumfrage_BSI_SMF_Was braucht Ihr Unternehmen jetzt vor allem für eine erfolgreiche CX?

Data as the focal point

Data and more data: Customer data is called the new oil, and its availability, quality and intelligent analysis are often seen as critical to the success of sales and marketing activities. We wanted to know what kind of customer data marketers are already working with today and what they use it for.

Trendumfrage_BSI_SMF_Mit welchen Kundendaten arbeiten Sie?

Around 75% of the marketers surveyed responded that they use customer master and/or contract data, and 71% stated the communication and purchase history. No less than 54% of respondents said they analyze their customers’ online behavior for their work. It appears that companies have not yet capitalized much on the potential of life event-related data like moving and getting married and customer interest data like an affinity to travel (20% and 17%, respectively).

We believe this is a missed opportunity. Why? Please read about it in Prof. Dr. Frank Hannich’s technical paper or Robert Schumacher’s blog, among others.

Mostly, companies use customer data for the marketing concepts of personas, audience and segmentation that are well established today (86%). 59% of respondents stated that they use this data to create or optimize customer journeys, and 56% said they use it to measure success. Still, according to the marketers surveyed, their companies hardly ever use this data to train AI applications that support marketing decisions yet. There might be several reasons for this: Many companies still lack expertise in this area; to some extent, skepticism about AI applications is still very strong; depending on the industry, data protection regulations set strict boundaries; and the level of maturity of AI applications in marketing has occasionally stymied their profitable use until now.

Nonetheless, the time has come to take action. We recommend you start exploring AI applications for your company now as they are becoming indispensable.

  • We have developed a practical AI decision-making tool. Download your free copy here.

Mar-Tech as the focal point

MarTech drives corporate growth because technical solutions give companies the ability to design content, products and services to be particularly customer-oriented. The MarTech landscape is constantly growing, and it is becoming harder and harder to keep track of it. Therefore, we wanted to know which solutions marketers truly need.

Trendumfrage_BSI_SMF_Welche Tools/Lösungen/Werkzeuge brauchen Sie wirklich?

The graph that emerged from this question speaks for itself: The MarTech landscape seems to be growing at a rapid pace for a reason – today’s marketers work with a variety of tools. The digital tools the survey respondents pointed to most frequently are in the categories of Advertising & Promotion (63%), Content & Experience (56%) and Social & Relationship (51%). Surprisingly, only 32% reported using project management tools. Is Excel still that widely used? The fact that only 27% of respondents said that they use data management solutions might be based on their particular areas of activity or their reluctance toward AI and data science topics, which emerged in the trend survey.

  • Are you familiar with our compact MarTech decision-making aid? Download your free copy here.

AI as the focal point

While everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence, very few are already using it profitably in their companies. So, what does the marketing reality in Switzerland look like?

Only 2% of those surveyed stated that they work in interdisciplinary teams that also comprise data scientists. A mere 12% are already working with AI solutions in marketing, although no fewer than 22% are currently exploring AI to gain some initial experience. 37% of respondents considered the lack of pertinent data to be the reason why they have not yet been able to use AI meaningfully in their work. 59% expressed that they lack the necessary expertise – which is not surprising with a topic like Artificial Intelligence. Instead, the better question is what managers are doing with it: How do they train their employees? Assemble teams? Facilitate interdisciplinary work? These are the questions companies ought to be thinking about.

Skills as the focal point

Technology and customer expectations are drivers making the work of marketers exciting and challenging at the same time. With a concluding question in our trend survey, we wanted to find out which skills are essential to do good (marketing) work today and in the future.

Trendumfrage_BSI_SMF_Welche Fähigkeiten sind essenziell, um heute und morgen gute (Marketing-)Arbeit zu leisten?

It is no secret that marketing work and the marketing field are particularly exciting, dynamic and challenging for marketers today. The fragmentation of the MarTech landscape and the complexity of the tasks is reflected in the responses to our question about the essential skills needed to do good marketing: Almost uniformly, at more than 60% each, the respondents stated agility, creativity and a “digital mindset”. Technology skills brought up the rear at 56%, while strategic thinking led the field at 71%. The results show that today’s successful marketers need a broad skill set.

So, does this mean that the marketer is a jack-of-all-trades? Not necessarily because it is not about being able to do everything, but about setting the right priorities and developing and expanding the necessary skills across the entire team. Yet, one thing is certain: A digital mindset and agility are essential today.

*The survey was conducted between Sept. 10 and Oct. 21, 2021. 41 marketing and communication managers participated in it.

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