Top 5 ways marketers can stay ahead in a changing world

As a result of historic inflation rates, an economic downturn and unprecedented technological changes, the rules of marketing are being rewritten. What worked two years ago might be irrelevant today, and what works now might change quickly too. But in the midst of this chaos, there is opportunity. Change gives marketers a chance to connect more closely with their customers and differentiate from their competition—but only if they can adapt.

Breakthroughs in AI and machine learning have made it easier for marketers to move quickly, turning the work of hours into minutes and opening the door for bolder, more agile marketing, which many leaders are eager to adopt. According to the 2023 Marketing Report by Momentive, maker of SurveyMonkey, 56% of marketers are planning to take more risks this year, with 94% saying they feel confident about 2023.

Yet many in the industry still struggle to get the data they need, and also cite a lack of support from leadership. A whopping 9 out of 10 marketers see the brand as key to their organization’s success, but without current insights it can be hard to know what’s working. Adding to the challenge, more than half (53%) say their company is experiencing more competition compared with last year, and 8 in 10 note an increase in performance expectations.

For marketers, the goal is to make sure every campaign, product launch, pipeline builder or branding effort succeeds. And truly successful marketers are the ones who can cultivate empathy for their clients and take some chances.

For any marketer looking to achieve greater success, here are the top five ways you can capture growth in fast-moving times. 

1. Ask, listen, act. To make successful marketing decisions, you need to be able to process and act on insights fast. Here’s a protocol to do that successfully. 

The first thing every marketer needs to do is ask. Understand your stakeholders, from the C-suite to your sweet-spot customer to everyone in between. You also need to pressure-test ideas before sharing them with the world, by getting relevant feedback on your products and prototypes, your new ad campaign, or any big new idea.

As you listen to what your customers and prospects want, need and expect from you, you unlock the insights that will help you understand why specific marketing programs work—or don’t.

The last step is the most important: Marketers need to act, often quickly, and respond while situations change. To bring stakeholders along on the journey and build consensus for your ideas, you need to provide context with data collected from your target audience, so you can show how you anchored your decisions with insights.

2. Get quick access to the data you need. Eight out of 10 marketers say it is difficult to collect and access data on their target market, which makes it nearly impossible for those same marketers to create a campaign that resonates at a time when sensibilities are changing, and there is little wiggle room for failure. Access to real-time insights, along with being able to conduct market research and concept-test ideas quickly can change a good marketer into an incredibly powerful player. If you’re able to see patterns in areas of interest, you can quickly spot differences or disruptions. 

I suggest choosing a platform that does that work for you and delivers trackers, templates and expert-written questions. It should be about you getting answers to your critical questions, versus you having to keep up with the latest trends in survey science. The world moves quickly, and marketers need their critical questions answered in hours, not months.

3. Strengthen the trust between leadership and marketers. One of the most dramatic data points we uncovered in our 2023 Digital Marketing Report is that 81% of those marketers with autonomy over business decisions expect to reach their six-month goals, versus 18% who lack autonomy.

Internal leaders need to trust their team (this is one of Momentive’s core values), and the team needs to make sure they have the tools to keep a pulse on what’s happening, so they aren’t in that bottom third of digital marketers who can’t anticipate market needs.

4. Set everyone up to catch the waves. As a marketer, there is a lot you won’t have control over, like the overall economy, but as a marketing leader you do have control over how quickly you can respond. A lot of breakthroughs—the award-winning campaigns, explosive business growth or even perfect product-market fit—come from having established routines and paths to bring insights to decision-makers across your organization.

One way to do this is to make sure everyone can access insights easily. If you can get data into the hands of people across your organization instead of only a limited few, you can increase your organization’s overall intelligence. Even better, if instead of sharing data, you can have AI surface the insights directly to the decision-makers. AI is a game-changer for 2023, and now the time it takes to move from understanding something to taking action on it is literally hours versus months. 

5. Be inclusive in anything customer-facing. Our research shows that 10 years ago, the vast majority (82.5%) of survey questions offered only two options—male or female. In 2020, a small majority (54.2%) offered three or more options. Cut to 2022, according to our 2023 State of Surveys, and the percentage of questions offering three or more options increased to 62.3%—incredible progress! 

Consumers expect the same level of sensitivity in other areas too. Making websites accessible to those with disabilities, representing diverse people with backgrounds in imagery, and using correct, respectful language have all become table stakes for connecting to modern audiences. 

At the end of the day, you will be left behind if you don’t stay on top of how your audience wants to be viewed by the world. To be a successful marketer, you need to meet people where they are and show them you truly see them.