Marketers have always had to navigate change, but now our world is shifting in bigger and more unexpected ways.

The majority of customers today expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, and brand marketers are under pressure to create innovative experiences.

Feedback from customers is clear — it’s time for brands in every industry to focus on delivering helpful, relevant content.

We recently surveyed nearly 7,000 marketing leaders from companies of all sizes, across 14 major industries and 29 countries, about the trends that are impacting their work. Here’s what we learned.

All statistics on this page can be found in the 2020 State of Marketing report, unless otherwise stated.

79% of marketing leaders say they lead customer experience initiatives across the business, and 82% say customer experience is the key differentiator.


of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations


of customers say most companies treat them as a number

Salesforce State of the Connected Customer, June 2019

Customer Desires for Brand Marketing in 2020

  • 59%

    of customers say cadence of messages should be reduced

  • 58%

    of customers say variety of messages should be increased

  • 73%

    of customers say messages should focus on products instead of brand

  • #1 Promo Type

    discounts on specific products and services based on customer preference

Salesforce State of the Connected Customer, October 2020

Chapter One

Priorities and Challenges Collide

Marketers’ top priorities are innovation and engaging customers in real time — but those are also their top challenges.

With the right technology, marketers are finding new ways to overcome their challenges and focus on their priorities. This is leading to improved internal cross-team collaboration and better customer experiences.

Top Priorities

  • 1. Innovating
  • 2. Engaging customers in real time
  • 3. Complying with privacy regulations
  • 4. Improved use of tools and technology
  • 5. Modernized tools and technology

Top Challenges

  • 1. Engaging customers in real time
  • 2. Innovating
  • 3. Creating cohesive customer journeys across channels and devices
  • 4. Unifying customer data sources
  • 5. Sharing a unified view of customer data across business units

New to top 5 for 2020

Chapter Two

Marketing Transformation Takes on a New Urgency

In the changing marketing landscape, marketers are making advanced investments in people and technology. Many are now pivoting to invest in creativity, communication, data analysis, and new digital tools.

With the right tools, marketers can connect with customers at the right moment, on the right channel.

Compared with underperformers, high-performing marketers are 1.3x more likely to be planning to increase their use of artificial intelligence and marketing analytics tools.

69% of marketing leaders say traditional marketing roles limit customer engagement — up from 37% in 2018

Marketers Who Rate Their Team’s Skills as Advanced

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Data
  • Digital
  • Data
  • Communication
  • Coding/Software
  • Agility/
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity

Cross-Functional Collaboration is Table Stakes


of marketing and sales teams execute jointly on ABM programs — up from 45% in 2018


of marketing is suppressed when a customer has an open service case — up from 32% in 2018


of marketing emails and ecommerce systems are synced — up from 51% in 2018

Salesforce State of Marketing, December 2018

How Marketers Have Changed Their Channel Usage in the Past Year

Select a channel

improved personalization

improved audience segmentation

no change

Chapter Three

Customer Data Sets the Stage for Empathetic Marketing

Today, only 37% of marketing leaders are completely satisfied with the quality of their data. To solve for this and other data challenges, many marketers are adding more data sources and looking to sophisticated technologies like customer data platforms (CDPs), artificial intelligence (AI), and automation.

AI and automation are particularly effective at analyzing data and delivering the personalized experiences customers expect. Marketers are also using AI to segment their audiences, surface data insights, and deliver next best actions to customers in real time.

Only 28% of marketing leaders are completely satisfied with their ability to balance personalization with customer comfort levels

Number of Data Sources for Marketers

50% growth rate





Top Data Sources Marketers Use

  • 1. Transactional data
  • 2. Declared interests and preferences
  • 3. Known digital identities
  • 4. Offline identities
  • 5. Anonymized digital identities

Top AI Use Cases for Marketers

  • Personalize

    individual channel experiences

  • Improve

    customer segmentation/lookalike audience modeling

  • Surface

    data insights

  • Drive

    next best actions in real time

  • Automate

    customer interactions over social channels or messaging apps

Marketers Double Down on Business Value

Analyzing marketing performance in real time is key to increasing business value, as marketers can make changes quickly based on which channels have the best ROI. Waiting to measure performance once a campaign ends may result in the waste of valuable marketing budget.

CDPs, AI, and automation also help brands deliver cohesive, value-driven customer experiences across marketing, sales, and service. This is a needed evolution, as 59% of customers feel like they are working with separate departments rather than one company.* With their data seamlessly connected across your departments, customers are primed to view brand interactions with the feeling that you know and understand them — because you really do.

*Salesforce State of the Connected Customer, October 2020

Ability to Evolve Messaging Across Channels




Ability to Analyze Marketing Performance

Can only analyze marketing performance once the campaign is over

Can analyze marketing performance in real time

Top Channels for Marketers

Select a channel




Influencer marketing


Social publishing/advertising


Email marketing


Customer communities

Find the Insights That Matter Most

With this interactive dashboard, you can filter to get a clear view of different insights, different audiences, and different markets — including specific countries, specific industries, or even B2C vs. B2B — from our 2020 State of Marketing research.

Track the marketing trends that mean the most to you: