It’s hard to believe that 2019 is already almost behind us, but here we are again: buttoning up our rain jackets, sipping holiday-themed lattes, and compiling year-end retrospective lists. So what did we learn about the state of marketing in 2019?

Number 1: CX is King

The number one takeaway from 2019? It’s all about the customer journey.

This might seem obvious – marketing has always been concerned with the customer journey. We want to know what customers are looking for, how we can best offer it, how we can convince them that our product is the right choice. But 2019 is when we saw real, widespread adoption of Customer Experience (CX)-centered marketing, a new lens for looking at the journey to purchase.

While the traditional marketing approach considers prospects in a funnel, moving from awareness to consideration to purchase, the CX approach considers prospects from their own point of view. Potential customers probably don’t see themselves as, well, potential customers. They don’t think “hm, now I’ve entered the consideration phase.” They see themselves as trying to solve a problem, and what marketers see as funnel stages, buyers see as a series of tasks to complete in order to reach a solution.

CX marketing is all about trying to share that view. What task is the buyer trying to accomplish, and how can the marketer help them get there? This requires knowing the customer extremely well, but it pays off when marketers are able to produce content that resonates tightly with their audience.

Further reading: The Customer Journey Starter Kit, The Five Tensions of Marketing Orchestration

Number 2: Margin for Error is Lower Than Ever

We don’t have to tell you that yesterday’s marketing innovation is today’s table stakes – you live it every day, just like we do. As access to data has increased marketer’s capabilities, expectations for marketing have increased right along with them. Customers now expect all marketing they encounter to be personalized to them (in fact, more than half of buyers told Salesforce they would switch brands if it wasn’t).

And it’s not just customer expectations that have increased. Measuring marketing has always been notoriously tough, but data and digital marketing tools now offer more resources than ever before to help marketers evaluate their effectiveness. The c-suite now expects marketing leadership to be able to demonstrate ROI for their activities, in a way that simply wasn’t possible 5 or 10 years ago. 

Adding to the pressure? For many marketers, one thing that didn’t increase in 2019 was the budget. 

The net result is that marketers’ margin for error is shrinking fast. Success in 2019 meant working efficiently with the resources available, particularly data, to create the right content for the right people, make sure it was delivered at the right time, and measure the right results. Strategies, workflows and metrics all needed to be tightly aligned across teams to minimize mistakes, and create the best outcomes.

Further reading: Is Orchestration Affecting My Customer Experience?, A Guide to Atomizing Content for ABM, A Guide to Creative Process Management

Number 3: Ecosystem is the Future and the Future is Now

None of that tight alignment comes easily. There are a lot of moving pieces involved in a successful marketing campaign, and they all need to move together.

The idea of a connected martech ecosystem is hardly new. Enterprises are increasingly building martech stacks made up of the best tools in each category, and selecting for robust APIs to ensure seamless transfer of data. Technology is now an integral part of marketing, and that means your tech stack needs to work together just like your team. 

Well-integrated, best-of-breed martech stacks are the engine that power the modern marketing machine. Silos in your martech can slow down your workflows, increase your chances of mistakes, and get in the way of your teams’ vital communications. Combined with that lower margin for error, this meant that marketers simply couldn’t afford to have martech silos in 2019.

Further reading: The Best of Breed Advantage, The Business Benefits of APIs, The Marketing Tech Stack Diagram Workbook

All in all it’s a challenging time to be a marketer, and it’s an exciting time to be a marketer. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store.