Ninety-three percent of marketers focused on marketing efficiency and return of investment (ROI) within the last year, according to Marketing Intelligence Report Asia-Pacific 2020 by customer relationship management (CRM) firm Salesforce.

In the old days, marketing centered on “building a big, creative ad; running a big TV ad; and getting a celebrity,” said Chris Jordan, regional head of data, personalization, and marketing intelligence at Salesforce, during the report’s launch on October 14. If sales went up, marketers attributed the bump to what they did. “That is just not reality anymore,” he said. 

ROI is defined differently by each company, depending on their priorities and the scope of their country’s market. According to the report, 54% are focusing on long-term goals, which covers building brand equity, brand loyalty, and brand value. Eleven percent are focusing on short-term goals, which includes an immediate increase in sales and customer acquisition and retention. Thirty-five percent are focusing on a mix of both short- and long-term goals.

However, they are faced with barriers such as misalignment across teams on measurement and reporting, inefficient use of budget, lack of a unified view of performance, and lack of real-time insights. Cross-channel data integration, or the harmonizing of data across various channels, is also a challenge. Sixty-four percent of marketers spend a week or more each month on the task.

The average marketer uses 7.4 marketing channels, including websites, e-mail, and digital display advertising, leading 33% to feel challenged by their ability to connect and unify these data. “Overwhelmingly, marketers in APAC agree that a complete view of cross-channel marketing is important, but with growing volumes of data generated from a growing number of platforms, this is increasingly difficult to achieve,” said Salesforce in their report.

Adding to the challenge is the lack of automated data integration, with 71% still collecting, cleansing, mapping, and transforming data manually to some degree. This is both prone to human error and highly inefficient, taking up time that could be spent on higher value activities that drive strategy, insight, and innovation.

In the meantime, marketers continue to push for data-driven culture and technology to support their shift to marketing-led growth. Majority agree that accurate, validated data; the ability to connect marketing and sales data; and technical skills and expertise are required for success. Thus the calls on higher management to adopt new tools and recognize the value of having a data-driven mindset.

“Stakeholder management can be really challenging with all teams having different KPIs [key performance indicators] … so it is always about bringing it back to the data, what story is the data telling us? It is important to get back to the business’ goals—what is the business trying to achieve? Does the data help us get there? If not, what data do we need and how do we need to make it work for us?” said a digital agency lead from Australia and New Zealand in the report.

Marketing Intelligence Report Asia-Pacific 2020 analyzed data from May 25 to July 23 of this year. Over 1,000 marketers from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and India were interviewed, with 14% coming from the Philippines. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo