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Study: Marketers Face Innovation, Customer Service Challenges In 2017

A recent survey by market research firm B2B International has found that marketing budgets will likely stay the same or increase in 2017. Based in the U.S., U.K. and continental Europe, the marketing professionals surveyed expressed optimism for the coming months, but also feel they’re facing a range of challenges this year, including product and service innovation and building market share.

While 45% of respondents expect no change in their marketing budgets for the year, 38% expect an increase; only 16% anticipate a decrease. U.S.-based marketers were most upbeat about budgets, with 44% expecting an increase compared to 32% in Europe.

The top business challenge cited was “innovating products and services,” with 57% reporting that it’s among their top five challenges. The survey found that only 30% of businesses use a structured process for innovation, and just 32% use “compelling” value propositions for communicating their products and services.

A close second challenge cited in the survey was “building market share” (53%), which half of respondents said they’re addressing with branding efforts, including differentiation and positioning. Meanwhile, the third most commonly reported challenge was “retaining customers or making customers more loyal” (48%). While 51% of respondents report that it’s a strategy they’re using to gain market share, just 28% believe their customer journey mapping, in terms of identifying critical touchpoints and improvement areas, is “excellent.” In addition, only 25% state that their customer database is updated regularly, and is easily accessible and accurate. “There is significant opportunity for business to address the challenge of customer satisfaction and loyalty by listening to the voice of the customer,” B2B International stated in its official report on the survey. “[Key performance indicators] such as the [net promoter score], frameworks like customer journey maps and more advanced segmentation beyond demographics/firmographics, can all help B-to-B brands overtake competitors and gain market share.”