Emerging trends for in-house marketing and creative teams: Applying data-driven strategies, resourcing challenges and AI adoption

by | May 29, 2024 | Marketing, Public Relations

While marketing agencies have a complex set of challenges, not the least of which is driving new business, those that in-house departments face are different but no less challenging. New research from creative, marketing and digital staffing solutions firm Cella by Randstad Digital delves into marketing and creative operations managers’ current core challenges as they have evolved in comparison to previous years, and offers insights into applying data-driven strategies to navigate today’s dynamic business landscape.

For its 2024 Cella Intelligence Report, now in its 14th edition, the firm surveyed almost 500 respondents across 30 industries, such as software, banking and financial services, consumer products, healthcare and more. This year’s report sheds light on the dynamics that marketing and creative operations teams experience across the industry, as well as within their specific organizational structures. For the first time, the research takes a hard look at AI, which has been catapulted into the forefront of marketing and creative teams’ operational consciousness. While discussions around AI are ubiquitous and enthusiasm is high, the report finds that adoption, productivity strategies and implementation are still in their infancy for most organizations.

in-house marketing

Survey trends reveal a growing recognition of the need to develop strategies for training and upskilling existing talent to ensure they remain up to date with technological advancements. Notably, 57 percent of respondents anticipate exploring AI’s utility in various activities within the next year. However, despite being a prevalent topic, knowledge and adoption rates remain modest, with just over 50 percent of respondents indicating investment in AI. While AI is viewed as an extra set of hands to expedite existing workloads, more consideration must be given to how it should reshape work processes and provide strategic insights into prioritizing tasks.

“The report captures the current state of marketing and creative operations, benchmarking trends and providing analysis that can be universally applied by leaders,” said Jackie Schaffer, Cella Global Head, in a news release. “This year, we’re highlighting how using a data-driven strategy has the power to create personalized customer experiences, harness the power of AI and inform strategies that can transform organizations.”

in-house marketing

The report also addresses persistent resourcing challenges faced by marketing and creative teams, including limited staffing resources, potential solutions provided by offshore teams, balancing planning and priorities, and time constraints inhibiting creativity. As a result, there’s been a notable shift in operational focus, with forecasting and planning now taking precedence as the primary function within marketing ops teams. This shift reflects a narrative change around resourcing, emphasizing the need to maximize current resources while strategically planning for additional needs. 

in-house marketing

Further noting the urgency around the subject, planning cycles have shortened, with partners indicating they need to operate on a 1-3 month timeframe, down from 3-6 months. Yet, while 72 percent of marketing ops teams lead the forecasting and planning process, only 39 percent of creative ops teams have a seat at the planning table. This presents a built-in opportunity for both sides to have balanced representation in order to develop strategic plans together.

in-house marketing

Some of the additional findings from the report include:

  • 59 percent of creative leaders consider having adequate resources as the greatest challenge in 2024, compared to 33 percent the previous year
  • Creative teams are embracing AI and demonstrate higher AI knowledge than their Marketing counterparts (27 percent) and are focused on upskilling current talent in the discipline (51 percent)
  • 62 percent say a marketing leader owns the company’s CX strategy and execution, but the journey toward a fully articulated CX strategy remains a work in progress, with only 33 percent boasting an active, clearly-defined approach to it
  • 54 percent of organizations have yet to embrace the adoption of dynamic content optimization—an essential component of personalized customer experiences

The report highlights the need to apply strategic integration of essential data points within marketing and creative operations, empowering leaders to make informed decisions that drive transformative results. 

Download the full report.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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