Corporate Eye

State of Marketing 2015

calendarLeads, acquisition, and technology top the list of marketers’ highest priorities and biggest challenges in 2015 according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s 2015 State of Marketing report.

It’s important to note that marketers from around the world participated in the Salesforce survey, so these results are representative of a diverse pool of marketers, companies, and industries.

While challenges abound for marketers in 2015, budget increases will focus on digital marketing, particularly social media and mobile marketing.

In total, 84% of respondents to the Salesforce survey indicated that they plan to increase digital marketing spending in 2015 with the most common budget increases going to: social media engagement (67%), location-based mobile tracking (67%), mobile applications (66%), mobile-push notifications (65%), web personalization (65%), marketing automation (63%), and content marketing (62%).

Despite these budget increases for digital marketing strategies and tactics, calculating return on investment did not rank as one of the most important metrics for marketers in 2015. Revenue growth ranked as the most important metric for 32% of marketers who responded to the survey followed by customer satisfaction, which ranked as the most important metric for 30% of respondents. Only 23% of respondents said that customer retention, acquisition, and ROI, collectively, was the most important metric to track marketing performance.

Taking a closer look at the high priority challenges identified by marketers for 2015, respondents ranked 20 specific challenges. The full breakdown is shown below. Notice that the gap from the top priority challenge and the lowest priority challenge is only 19 percentage points (not including the “Other” response). In other words, marketers have a lot of challenges and they’re all priorities.

Marketers Top Challenges in 2015

  1. New business development = 27%
  2. Quality of leads = 27%
  3. Remaining up to date with current marketing technology and trends = 27%
  4. Customer acquisition = 26%
  5. Quantifying marketing’s return on investment = 25%
  6. Integration of marketing tools and systems = 25%
  7. Demand and lead generation = 23%
  8. Budget constraints = 23%
  9. Building deeper customer relationships = 22%
  10. Creating personalized, cross-channel experiences = 22%
  11. Producing unique, original content = 22%
  12. Using existing data to drive more relevant messages and experiences = 21%
  13. Keeping pace with competitors = 21%
  14. Staying ahead of social media trends = 21%
  15. Talent acquisition and retention = 20%
  16. Understanding what data to analyze = 20%
  17. Shifting consumer demographics = 19%
  18. Channel expansion and device adoption = 18%
  19. Enterprise-level system optimization = 18%
  20. Other = 1%

It’s not surprising to see the expected increase in digital marketing budgets in 2015 given the positive results marketers have had with social media and mobile marketing. The Salesforce study found that 68% of marketers believed their email marketing and social media marketing efforts were effective. Other digital marketing tactics were reported as effective by 58% or more of the survey respondents.

Comparing marketers’ opinions about their top challenges, anticipated budget increases, and prior program effectiveness, it’s not surprising to see digital marketing as a top priority for marketers in 2015. Now, they just have to ensure their investments are driving leads and converting those leads into new customers. Of course, that’s a challenge that never stops for marketers.

 Image: Felipe Wiecheteck

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.