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95% of businesses fear recession, will likely cut marketing budgets

As central banks around the globe ramp up interest rates in a bid to curb inflation, many businesses fear an oncoming recession. But as they look to protect themselves from the worst effects of a potential recession, it’s clear that many haven’t learned from the past and will cut sales and marketing budgets.

Those are the headline findings from the latest International Business Barometer report from Sapio Research. Titled, “Wave 6: Preparing for a Recession?”, the report shows that some 95% of businesses around the globe are concerned about a potential recession.

Those concerns, however, aren’t equally spread. In the US, 45% of businesses are highly concerned about a recession, compared with just 11% in Germany.

Just over a fifth of businesses (22%), meanwhile, are already being affected by the current economic uncertainty. Again, these effects aren’t equally spread. Japan and the US are faring worse, with 28% of businesses in those countries already feeling the pinch. Globally, the percentage of affected companies is expected to rise to 42% by the end of the year.

The research also shows, however, that the responses to any recession are likely to be as misguided as they’ve been in the past.

“While many companies say that their top mitigation strategy will be ramping up sales and marketing activities, most are still likely to bite the hand that feeds them,” said Jane Hales, Managing Partner, Sapio Research. “The highest proportion of potential redundancies are set to be made in crucial areas such as sales and communications.”

Additionally, half of businesses anticipate cutting discretionary marketing spend (such as PR, events, advertising, and sponsorship) over the next 12 months. At present, just six percent of companies are cutting marketing budgets.

With the world’s advertising leaders currently gathered in Cannes for the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, that’s hardly likely to come as welcome news. Nor is the fact that many business leaders question the effectiveness of advertising as an influencing channel.

“Globally, social media and paid social media are significantly more valued marketing channels for driving retention and drive growth than advertising, particularly in the US,” said Hales. “The UK is the only country that values the two channels equally.”

At least some business leaders, however, view any potential recession as an opportunity. In the US, for example, some 37% plan to use it to and the promise of more captive audiences as an opportunity and plan to increase their marketing spend.

This may ultimately be the better approach.

“Companies that cut their marketing budgets due to recession not only make it harder to retain customers but also to bring back new and existing customers once economic growth returns,” Hales concludes. “They also leave themselves more vulnerable in the event of a PR crisis that puts the organisation at risk, something that 41% of US organisations experienced post-COVID-19. It would be a shame if they chose to forgo the lessons learned during the pandemic and put themselves at risk again.”

The report will be released online 1 July 2022 and will be available for download here https://sapioresearch.com/international-business-barometer#

Have Brits forgotten what it means to be truly happy? And what does it mean for brands?

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions according to a new research report from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) and Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster.

The Happiness Report includes insights from more than 12,000 consumers and business leaders across 14 countries and found that people are searching for new experiences to make them smile and laugh and will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases, and walk away from those that don’t.

For the UK specifically, the research found that nearly half of Brits (49%) have not felt true happiness in two years. Similarly to others around the world, 88% are looking for new experiences to make them laugh and smile – in fact, Brits are prioritising experiences (61%) compared to the global average of 53% to try and make themselves happy.

For brands looking to interact with UK citizens there is a similar story to that globally, with 90% of people in the UK wanting a brand to be funny. However, the key difference is that Brits seem far less likely to cancel a brand (31%) compared to those globally (45%), which is echoed by UK business leaders who are 21% less likely to be scared of using humour in customer interactions than their global counterparts.

People are searching for happiness in new ways and are willing to pay a premium 

It has been more than two years since many people last felt true happiness and they are searching for ways to be happy again, no matter the cost.

  • 45 percent of people have not felt true happiness for more than two years and 25 percent don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy.
  • 88 percent are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh. People are prioritising health (80 percent), personal connections (79 percent), and experiences (53 percent) to gain happiness.
  • More than half (53 percent) wish money could buy happiness, with 78 percent willing to pay a premium for true happiness.
  • 89 percent attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic and while 47 percent said that receiving packages made them happy, 12 percent struggled to remember the purchases they had made online.

Advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service interactions need to change 

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders admit their brands rarely use humour to engage with customers.

  • 78 percent of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 91 percent said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among Gen Z (94 percent) and Millennials (94 percent).
  • 90 percent are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet business leaders said that only 20 percent of their brands’ offline ads (TV, billboards) and 18 percent of their online ads actively use humour.
  • 77 percent of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 16 percent of business leaders said that their brands use humour to sell.
  • 75 percent of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 15 percent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social.
  • 69 percent of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 24 percent of business leaders said they actively use humour in email marketing campaigns.
  • 68 percent would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 27 percent of business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications.

Smiles and laughter pay dividends, but business leaders are afraid to joke around 

People will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases and will walk away from those that don’t.

  • 48 percent of people don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 41 percent would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly.
  • If a brand uses humour, people are more likely to buy from the brand again (80 percent), recommend the brand to family and friends (80 percent), choose the brand over the competition (72 percent), and spend more with a brand (63 percent).
  • 89 percent of business leaders see the opportunity to use humour to enhance the customer experience and believe that their brand can do more to make customers laugh or smile.
  • 95 percent of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions.
  • 85 percent of business leaders state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humour. Business leaders would be more confident using humour when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (55 percent) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32 percent).

“We’ve all been through some very tough years, and around the world, we’re short on happiness. We’re starved for experiences that make us smile and laugh, and brands can help,” said Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. “For brands aiming to contribute to the happiness of their target audience, the process starts with data and knowing your customers. Only then can you bring the appropriate mix of humour, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy.”

“The customer experience continues to evolve, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: Making the customer happy,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX). “There are many different factors that go into creating happy customers and in this research, we decided to examine humour as it is one of the most nuanced. As the results show, most business leaders want to make consumers laugh more and understand it’s a critical part of establishing a true relationship. To be successful, brands need to put data at the heart of their customer experience strategy.”

Learn more about this global report here.

REVEALED: The most popular digital jobs in Europe by country

Are you a digital nomad wanting to visit another country, or an employee looking for a digital role? With the great resignation continuing into 2022, now is the time to think about a career change or a change of scenery – with new research showing which roles are most in demand.

The number of digital jobs has exploded in the past decade, with more than 3.3 million search results for ‘digital jobs Europe’ generated on Google in less than a second. In addition to this, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark topped the list of digitalization in 2020. In other words, employees are spoilt for choice.

Taking it upon themselves to find the most popular digital jobs per country, VoiceNation can reveal the countries where you are most likely to find an abundance of certain digital roles, from Web Developing and UX designers, to Digital PR Experts and Content Writers.

The most popular digital jobs based on the number of hiring ads online in every country are:

  • Germany – Project Management
  • France – SEO Specialist
  • Ireland – Project Management
  • UK – SEO Specialist
  • Belgium – IT
  • Greece – Social Media
  • Sweden – AI Engineering
  • Poland – Project Management
  • Italy – Social Media
  • Spain – Online Customer Service

Are you a creative thinker wanting a career in Social Media and are thinking about moving abroad? Italy and Greece are the countries with most social media roles available. There, you can both work and enjoy the sun.

If you are an SEO Specialist looking for the best places to work, the UK or France might be the countries for you. Out of all the digital roles available, there were most SEO Specialist roles available there. For aspiring project managers, look no further than Germany, the job beating SEO, I.T and Web Development.

Sweden turns out to be a hotspot for people looking for a role within AI Engineering. If you’re looking to soak in the sun while working, you don’t need to look far. Spain and Portugal are two of the best places to look for an online customer service role, with this digital job beating Web Development and SEO as the digital role companies are hiring the most for.

Research reveals Gen Z avoids ads at all costs

Any company looking to target Gen Z consumers (those born between 1997 and 2012) shouldn’t even bother with traditional advertising.

That’s the stark finding from a new report released by digital consumer research firm Bulbshare, which gathers insights from thousands of consumers around the world.

Titled Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favour of real voices, the report finds that 99% of consumers in this generational cohort will hit “skip” on an ad if it’s an option and that nearly two-thirds (63%) use ad blockers to avoid online adverts.

Their readiness to do so comes largely from the fact that they feel overwhelmed by the number of adverts they see daily. The report shows that nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers feel bombarded with ads. The same percentage feel irritated with adverts and the incursions they place on their time. One in four, meanwhile, find advertising extremely intrusive, while one in two believe it is somewhat disruptive.

“The best advertising has always been disruptive,” says Bulbshare founder and CEO Matt Hay. “It should be difficult to ignore. But today’s brands face the very real danger of being part of an indistinct but annoying wall of noise”.

Over the past decade or so, brands have increasingly supplemented their traditional advertising efforts with influencer marketing. But customers are becoming more distrustful of the relationships between big brands and high-profile figures.

Bulbshare’s research shows that 84% of Gen Z consumers have lost faith in influencers. They are, unsurprisingly, more inclined to make purchases based on authentic recommendations. In fact, 86% would be more inclined to buy a product recommended by a friend than a paid influencer.

“This desire for authenticity makes it imperative that brands not only have products worth recommending but that they cultivate communities where authentic recommendations can take place,” says Hay. “In fact, there’s real hunger for this among Gen Z consumers. Some three quarters (74%) would promote a product they genuinely care about online. Moreover, 88% are enthusiastic about collaborating with brands, and 76% said they enjoy reviewing products.”

“In a world where 81% of consumers trust real opinions over those promoted via an advert,” Hay concludes. “It makes much more sense to allow consumers to be authentic advocates for a product or brand than to spend money on an ad that will, at best, be ignored and cause active resentment at worst.”

Download Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favour of real voices here.

Junior marketers ‘driving customer experience innovation’

Junior marketers are playing a leading role in driving innovation, with 50% saying that trying out new techniques and ideas to improve customer experiences is a major part of their day-to-day activities.

That’s according to Optimizely’s Culture of Experimentation report, based on a survey of 200 UK in-house marketing executives, assistants and managers, which also highlights that 50% of marketing assistants are directly responsible for improving the customer experience, compared to 42% of marketers at management level.

The report reveals junior team members are being entrusted with driving innovation and change to improve customer satisfaction, with only 14% saying they don’t have the freedom to try new things and 24% that their opinion isn’t valued by senior team members.

Commenting on the findings, Kirsten Allegri Williams, CMO of Optimizely, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that so many junior marketers in the UK are being inspired to challenge established marketing practices. Experimentation is integral to the customer experience, so introducing this mindset and challenging the status quo can significantly impact how brands interact with their audiences in a positive way.

“Junior marketers are the ones who are likely to shape the future of UK marketing. Bringing this experimentation practice will absolutely help to advance their careers, along with their enthusiasm and a fresh thinking. It’s vital that senior team members embrace this and drive collaboration at all levels, making everyone feel heard so new data-based changes are implemented wherever possible.”

Increased media fragmentation amplifying need for holistic measurement

Nielsen’s Annual Marketing Report has found that brands’ top priorities for 2022 are increasing brand awareness, un-siloing measurement, developing personalized strategies, and becoming more purpose-driven.

With consumer buying habits very much a focus following the enormous change that COVID-19 has left on their behaviour, Nielsen has for the very first time conducted a global survey that includes insights incorporating EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) marketers.

Respondents surveyed came from manager-level and above, overseeing marketing budgets of US$1 million upwards, working across a variety of industries, from the retail and ecommerce, auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism and retail industries.  

The research conducted by Opinium Research spanned the regions, asking marketer participants a range of questions from how they access marketing campaigns; reporting systems; measurement; data accuracy; and their overriding concerns regarding ROI (return on investment). 

The report both revealed a digital dominance in how dollars are being spent and exposed marketers’ lack of confidence in the data behind those decisions. With continued digital fragmentation, marketers report data accuracy, measurement, and ROI are paramount. While 69% of marketers believe first-party data is essential for their strategies and campaigns, and 72% of marketers believe they have access to quality data, only 26% of global marketers are fully confident in their audience data.

The Era of Alignment found marketers around the world are experiencing similar areas of success and challenges, as shown by:

  • Brand awareness is marketers’ top objective. To reach this goal, brands need to leverage an array of channels to reach the widest audience. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that social media is the most effective paid channel with TikTok and Instagram dominating spend. Comparatively, TV and radio spend is significantly less with an aggregate increase of 53% across global marketers. Customer acquisition is their second objective, showing that marketers must focus efforts on the entire customer journey.
  • Increased media fragmentation amplifies the need for holistic measurement. Marketers’ confidence in measuring ROI of the full-funnel is only 54%. Remove online and mobile video and confidence in measuring ROI across all other channels is under 50% globally, and while nearly half of marketers plan to increase their spending on podcasts, their confidence in measuring the ROI of that investment is 44%.
  • It’s vital for marketers to use data to champion personalized marketing strategies. The increasing proliferation of channels produces an abundance of unique data sets. However, 36% of marketers still claim that data access, identity resolution, and deriving actionable insights from data is either extremely or very difficult. With the rise of connected TV (CTV) this presents new challenges to traditional targeting solutions. CTV is a growing focus for global marketers, with 51% planning to increase their over-the-top/CTV spending in the coming year. To wit, Americans streamed almost 15 million years’ worth of content across subscription- and ad-supported platforms.
  • By placing a greater emphasis on purpose-driven initiatives, marketers can better connect with consumers.Nielsen Research shows over half of U.S. consumers (52%) purchase from brands that support causes they care about; similarly, more than 36% expect the brands they buy to support social causes. While global marketers say their brands are emphasizing purpose, Nielsen data shows that 55% of consumers aren’t convinced that brands are fostering true progress.

“Our work at Nielsen is to provide the most complete view of consumer behavior regardless of industry, and our longtime experience in measurement and comprehensive view of the media universe gives brands a 360-degree view that can’t be found anywhere else,” said Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nielsen. “This research showcased that marketers want to put money into channels to deliver immediate ROI, however we also see that they must be agile in the year ahead and work across the entire marketing funnel to reinforce brand awareness and acquire more customers. With the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies, it’s understandable to see marketers prioritizing personalization and aligning their brand with causes their customers care about. Through our solutions – and this report – we’re continuing to help brands and marketers get actionable insights to make more informed, and quicker decisions.”

This is the fifth Annual Marketing Report produced by Nielsen. The report is fueled by survey responses of marketers manager-level and above, who manage marketing budgets north of $1 million, who work across a variety of industries (auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism, and retail), and whose focus pertains to media, technology, and measurement strategies.

Marketing software revenue to hit $264bn by 2030

The global digital marketing software market size is expected to reach $264.15 billion by 2030, equivalent to a CAGR of 19.1% from 2022 to 2030.

Analysis by ResearchAndMarkets asserts that the market has been evolving continuously in line with the advancements in technology and the changing needs of the incumbents of various end-use industries and industry verticals, especially small and medium enterprises.

Furthermore, the unabated transition from desktops to smartphones as the rapid increase in the number of smartphone users would expose more individuals to online ads is anticipated to drive the market growth.

In particular, it cites several vendors striking strategic partnerships with end users to help them in strengthening their digital marketing activities. For instance, in February 2021, IBM partnered with Palantir.

The partnership will include IBM’s hybrid cloud data platform designed to make hybrid cloud and AI environments more accessible to organizations. The partnership will support the implementation of AI-infused applications with IBM Watson as well as assist customers or clients in accessing, analyzing, and acting on massive volumes of data.

The growing trend of remote working and collaborative approaches has shifted the focus of marketing campaigns toward social media, search engines, and media websites.

They are leveraging the rising demand for streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu. In Italy, the number of first-time installations of Netflix was up by over 57% in March 2020.

Digital Marketing Software Market Report Highlights

  • The adoption of marketing automation software is anticipated to gain traction over the forecast period it is widely used by marketing departments to effectively market their products on multiple online channels, such as websites, email, and social media, and to automate repetitive tasks.
  • The managed services segment is anticipated to register the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The increasing need for cloud-based managed services and the growing dependence of organizations on IT assets to improve their business productivity are the major factors contributing to the growth of the managed services segment.
  • The cloud segment is expected to register significant growth over the forecast period as it helps businesses in improving cost structures and setting up a control center to monitor, arrange, and coordinate various components of their digital marketing campaign.
  • The SMEs segment is anticipated to register the highest CAGR over the forecast period owing to the increasing role of government authorities in the provision of capital to small & medium enterprises for embracing digitization is anticipated to propel the growth of the segment.
  • Asia Pacific is anticipated to register the highest CAGR over the forecast period, owing to the increasing popularity of social media and the rising preference for e-commerce and m-commerce, particularly in emerging economies, such as India, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Data literacy to be most in-demand skill by 2030

Just one quarter of employees believe their employer is preparing them for a more data-oriented and automated workplace (25%), including in the marketing industry.

That’s according to new research from analytics provider Qlik, despite most business leaders predicting an upheaval in working practices due to the rapid onset of artificial intelligence (AI).

With 32% of employees surveyed reporting they had changed jobs in the last 12 months because their employer wasn’t offering enough upskilling and training opportunities, there is a stark need to better upskill workforces to support the workplace transition that is already underway.

The report, Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution, was developed by Qlik in partnership with The Future Labs and combines insights from expert interviews with surveys from over 1,200 global C-level executives and 6,000 employees.

The findings, which were largely consistent across all geographies surveyed, reveal how the rapid growth in data usage is extending enterprise aspirations for its potential and, in turn, transforming working practices. As organisations shift from passive data consumption toward a state of Active Intelligence, where continuous data becomes integrated into working practices to trigger immediate actions, the report predicts how this will impact skills requirements and professional opportunities.

Data literacy: The most in-demand skill in the future workplace

The study found that business leaders and employees alike predict that data literacy – defined as the ability to read, work with, analyze and communicate with data – will be the most in-demand skill by 2030. And 81% of executives believe it will become as vital in the future as the ability to use a computer is today.

This reflects the greater appreciation of data in the enterprise. Global employees surveyed report their use of data and its importance in decision-making has doubled over the past year. While 86% of executives now expect all team members to be able to explain how data has informed their decisions.

Underpinning more intelligent and automated working practices

The demand for data skills reflects the significant shift in the workplace, due to the rise of AI. The enterprise leaders who took part in the study believe employee working practices will change to become more collaborative, with intelligent tools helping them make better decisions (80%) and become more productive (82%).

To realise its potential, 37% of C-level respondents predict their organisation will hire a Chief Automation Officer within the next 3 years, rising to 100% within the next decade. But the investment cannot end at senior hires; those on the front line need support during this transition. And 57% of employees surveyed believe that data literacy will help them stay relevant in their role with the growing use of AI.

“We often hear people talk about how employees need to understand how Artificial Intelligence will change how they complete their role, but more importantly we need to be helping them develop the skills that enable them to add value to the output of these intelligent algorithms,” said Elif Tutuk, VP of Innovation & Design at Qlik. “Data literacy will be critical in extending workplace collaboration beyond human-to-human engagements, to employees augmenting machine intelligence with creativity and critical thinking.”

The true value of data literacy on the talent market

The shift toward a more data-oriented and automated workplace creates a massive opportunity for those with data literacy skills. Every single business leader surveyed reported that they would offer a salary increase for candidates that could demonstrate their data literacy. On average, they would offer a 24% salary increase for demonstrating this skillset. For the average UK employee, this translates into an additional £7.6K to their annual salary.

Despite being perceived as critical to the success of the enterprise – both today and in the future – just 13% of employees surveyed feel fully confident in their data literacy skills. Yet, the most common belief among UK enterprise leaders is that it is an individual’s responsibility, over that of their current employer or educational institutions, to prepare themselves with the skills for the future workplace.

Where organisations are increasing their data literacy training, our research shows that it is primarily offered to those working in specific data related roles (59%), such as data analysts and data scientists. Far fewer organisations offer this training to those working in marketing, HR and finance (10%, 17% and 13% respectively) despite the majority of employees working in these functions stating data literacy is already necessary to fulfil their current role (69%, 56% and 75% respectively).

Over three-quarters (76%) of employees are instead investing their own time and money (58%) to plug the professional skills gap needed for the future enterprise – with these employees spending an average of nearly 7 hours each month and nearly £2.6K each year. Some vote with their feet, with 32% of employees reporting having left a job in the past 12 months due to their employer not offering enough upskilling and training opportunities.

“Over the past few years, investments in digitizing most business processes have transformed the data resources available, and this will continue as we move toward a more intelligent and automated workplace,” said Dr. Paul Barth, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik. “But investment in leading-edge data platforms has revealed a large—and expanding—gap in data literacy skills in the workforce. To become a data-driven company, where employees regularly use data and analytics to make better decisions and take informed actions, business leaders need to make investments in upskilling workers in every role to close the data literacy gap.”

The Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution report can be downloaded here.

50% of consumers won’t shop with brands that greenwash

As consumer demand for environmentally friendly and green products grows, retailers could be risking lost long-term loyalty if their sustainability efforts aren’t genuine.

That’s according to research from Retail Technology Show, which surveyed over 2,000 UK shoppers in its latest ‘Retail Revolution’ report, with results showing that almost half (47%) already actively buy more from brands they perceive to be sustainable, rising to 65% of Gen Z demographics.

And demand for ‘green’ retailing among shoppers is growing; six in ten (60%) of those polled said retailers’ commitment to sustainability would become more of an important factor in their buying decisions over the next five years, rising to 67% of 18-25 year olds.  Meanwhile, a further 65% of 18-24 year-olds say they would shop more with brands who are sustainable in the future, and another 63% would be more loyal to those retailers with green values.

However, despite the growing appetite for green retail – with the green pound estimated to reached over £122bn – two thirds (62%) of consumers in another poll by Retail Insight were untrusting of retailers’ and brands’ eco pledges, believing they merely pay lip-service to sustainability initiatives.  This growing concern around ‘greenwashing’ prompted the CMA’s recent crackdown on brands, who will face fines if they don’t deliver on the environmental claims they market against.

And this consumer distrust on the sincerity of retailers’ sustainable commitments doesn’t just risk possible fines and reputational damage, according to Retail Technology Show’s research, it risks future sales and lost loyalty too.  Half (50%) of UK consumers in its poll said they would stop shopping altogether with brands they perceive to be greenwashing, rising to almost two thirds (63%) of Gen Z audiences and 59% of Millennials.

“Put simply, greenwashing just won’t wash with shoppers”, said Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show.  “Consumers now expect retailers’ sustainability efforts to be deeply and genuinely rooted in the brands’ psyche, rather than it being any short-termist play.  And that means retail businesses need to carefully consider both how they can evolve their businesses operationally to be greener, and also how this is effectively communicated to shoppers in a genuine, transparent and engaging manner.”

Using less packaging was the top way UK consumers felt retailers could make their operations greener (78%), while a further 71% identified the supply chain as a focus for improvements, followed by 69% who said making bricks-and-mortar stores more eco would help retailers improve sustainability.  Almost half (48%) wanted retailers to pay an online delivery ‘green tax’ so the environmental impact of their ecommerce fulfilment operations could be offset, rising to 61% of 18-24 year-olds.

To find out more about the top trends impacting retail in 2022 and beyond, download the full Retail Revolution report for free: https://bit.ly/RTS_Retail_Revolution_Report

B2B marketers experiencing customer relationship issues

More than half of B2B marketing budgets are devoted to building and maintaining relationships with new customers, but only a quarter of B2B marketers say their relationships are akin to a happy marriage.

That’s according to new research from Skout carried out by Sapio Research, which reveals that of the 200 sales and marketing pros interviewed, 8% reckoned they were going through a bitter divorce or separation; 7% were on the rocks; 8% were having ‘difficulties’ with their customer relationships. This is a surprise considering nearly all marketers are heavily invested in building and creating relationships at key stages of the customer lifecycle. 14% added that they were casually dating or still at the first date stage of the relationship, whilst 14% said would ‘swipe right’ if using a dating app.

The impact of a relationship that’s on the rocks is clear. 41% felt the biggest risk was dissatisfied customers, a third said it resulted in poor prospect to customer conversion, another third stated it was likely to result in falling profitability and missing revenue targets. Despite these impacts, 97% of marketers agreed that good business relationships are crucial in B2B marketing.

The early stages of the customer journey prove critical when allocating budgets. 94% of respondents say that their business is effective at forging and nurturing relationships during the ‘interaction’ and the ‘awareness’ stage. But effectiveness drops as the customer journey matures – 77% effective at the ‘advocacy’ stage – indicating that it’s harder to keep customers on side the longer they’re with you.

As part of the research, Skout identified the risks to customer relationships at each stage of journey, with the results clearly showing where B2B marketers are falling short.

When it comes to retention, marketers do not appear to understand the value of building advocate programmes. Despite a lower cost of sale and the strength of case studies in convincing new customers to buy, 33% of companies have no dedicated customer loyalty or advocate programme in place. And 28% fail to monitor engagement or feedback to spot potential advocates.

Rob Skinner, MD of Skout, says “B2B relationship marketing is making a comeback. Potentially part of a backlash against too much automation, buyers are looking for that human touch and connection. And while not every customer might be worth a fling, marketers need to profile their audiences carefully to ensure that they’re investing in long term, exclusive, mutually beneficial marriages of convenience and are not two timed.”

Budget constraints are blamed for getting in the way forging stronger relationships with customers according to half of respondents, but a further 38% blame lack of data/insights, people resource (37%) and lack of a clear strategy (37%).

So where are marketers focusing those limited budgets? In the past year, over half have used customer surveys, 39% identified where their customers are on the journey, 36% put budget to audience research and 27% into persona and audience mapping.