The customer journey has become increasingly complex in recent years, forcing businesses to revamp their strategies as they try to influence purchasing decisions.
Offering a cohesive experience across all channels is a critical factor, meaning that the traditional campaign-based approach may no longer offer the same level of results as in the past.
Nearly nine in ten (86 per cent) senior marketers believe that developing personalised one-to-one customer journeys across all touchpoints is now central to success, according to Salesforce's 2015 State of Marketing Report.
This shift in focus presents major challenges for marketers, as they need to place their trust in new technologies. For example, mobile apps, marketing analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) tools are all expected to play a big role in future strategies.
Social marketing comes to the fore
Creating a cohesive customer journey is not going to happen overnight, but part of this process will see social budgets increase significantly. This has been targeted as the most important area when it comes to improving personalisation.
Some 64 per cent of marketers now view social as a critical enabler of products and services - this represents a major increase from only 25 per cent in 2014 - and 70 per cent expect social media advertising spend to increase.
"The future of marketing is building cohesive customer journeys across sales, service and marketing interactions. It is more important than ever to connect with each person interacting with your brand, and personalise journeys based on their actions and preferences," stated Scott McCorkle, CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
For businesses looking to personalise each customer's engagement, they need to connect the dots and implement a truly multi-channel approach.
The role of mobile
One thing that is clear from the report is the growing role of mobile in marketing campaigns, itself a reflection of the wider trend of consumers using smartphones and tablets to carry out a range of activities.
More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of senior marketers have integrated mobile into their overall marketing strategy, while 65 per cent are planning to increase spending on mobile push notifications.
Dedicated mobile marketing teams are also becoming much more prevalent, with 58 per cent of organisations now setting them up. This metric is expected to increase further in the future as real-time interactions are prioritised.
Mobile advertising has grown as a platform thanks to the current generation. Studies point to the fact it is much more effective than desktop advertising, while brands are frantically trying to make sure their websites are optimised for mobile. With global smartphone penetration forecast to reach 45 per cent in 2015, underlining just how important it is for companies to use mobile channels.
This year will see targeted mobile marketing emerge as a major tactic, with brands using a range of tools at their disposal to interact with customers and push them further down the sales funnel.
The bottom line is that companies able to offer superior customer service and reduce purchase friction are well placed to connect with their target audience in today's increasingly mobile-dominated world.