Marketing executives see deeper analysis of customer behaviour as the path forward

Survey results come against a backdrop of growing interest in artificial intelligence and data

Understanding customer behaviour and demonstrating marketing’s return on investment are the two top priorities for senior marketing executives working in Irish business.

46 per cent of executives want to develop an understanding of customer behaviour as the key priority, with 41 per cent saying they want to demonstrate marketing’s impact on the top and bottom line.

In addition, 38 per cent saw securing budgets as a priority, while 30 per cent were seeking to reduce costs, and 29 per cent wanted to improve creativity.

The figures come from the latest Marketing Pulse Survey, June 2024, commissioned by Core Optimisation and undertaken by Red C Research and Business Post, which saw 112 senior Irish marketers polled between May 8 and June 11, with over a 30 per cent response from director/C-suite level.

Ciara Clarke, director at Red C Research and Marketing, said that the priorities were linked and formed something of a virtuous cycle.

“If you understand customer behaviour you unlock growth. Then if you demonstrate the value, you can then unlock budget,” she said.

The survey results come against a backdrop of growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and data, which are widely believed will have a significant impact on marketing.

Most think AI will be a net positive, with 74 per cent saying so.

“AI should positively impact lower-tier tasks, but higher-chain activities such as creative and partner execution will remain in the purview of people-based teams,” one survey respondent said.

Others reported hopes that the technology would “simplify the creation of content [and] through algorithms lead to more targeted campaigns and tailored content” and “eliminate tedious, manual labour from roles such as editing creative and photoshopping images”.

However, there are concerns about the potential for reductions in staff numbers as well as an almost even split on whether or not new graduates were leaving college with the right skills.

The Survey

Red C carried out this research on behalf of Core Optimisation and the Business Post

112 senior Irish marketers took part in the research

Fieldwork was conducted between May 8 and June 11

The objective was to carry out research among marketers in Ireland in order to ascertain their behaviours and views around:

The future of their business

Confidence in the Irish economy

Top areas of spend, budget expectations, and business priorities

Services carried out in-house vs by external agencies

Confidence in and approach to AI’s role in marketing

It is intended for this to be a resource for all Irish marketers and businesses

Further waves of research will be conducted with key metrics being tracked over time

Key findings and results are to be published in the Business Post, and also made available as a resource for marketers and businesses in Ireland.

Three in five senior marketers agreed with the proposition that AI would lead to a reduction in headcount in marketing departments, though only one in ten strongly agreed with the proposition. Notably, agreement was higher among small companies.

44 per cent said they slightly agreed or strongly agreed to the question asking if university graduates were leaving education with the skills needed in an evolving digital marketing landscape.

46 per cent disagreed slightly or disagreed strongly, potentially indicating some uncertainty about the potential future impact of technologies whose impact has yet to be felt fully.

Clarke said that, despite pockets of uncertainty, she saw the results as reflective of a positive sentiment about the future, including the deployment of new technology in the form of AI.

“I think it’s much more about positivity. We’re at the other side of a few challenging years and the arrival of AI is being seen as potentially helpful. We’re really at the infancy stage of it so it’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’,” she said.