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Nine out of 10 brands are struggling to identify the right platforms and technologies to help them engage their audiences better, new research conducted in the UK and US has shown.

While 89% of brand marketing decision-makers are working hard on strategies to create better and more engaging experiences for their customers, the plethora of digital channels, platforms and technologies that now exist only appears to be making things ever more confusing for them.

The research was conducted by Amsterdam-based business Bynder  and published in its OnBrand Magazine, a publication that features news, insights and opinions on the latest in branding and marketing, which this week announced the release of its 2018 State of Branding Report.

The report, developed annually by digital asset management business Bynder aims to uncover marketers’ attitudes about current and emerging technology, industry trends and goals for the future.

The data, representing 504 marketing decision-makers at organizations based in the United States and the United Kingdom, shows that the customer experience is the top priority for marketers in 2018. In order to deliver personalized and targeted experiences, brands must have a seamless tech ecosystem in place, a challenge that marketers must face head-on in a market full of emerging intelligent tools and platforms.

Other key findings from the report included:

40% of marketing decision-makers will invest in voice assistants in 2018. 39% are developing integrations that run through platforms such as Facebook, Alexa, and Siri, as well as standalone solutions that run on company websites or apps.

With customer experience being a top marketing priority in 2018, 53% of marketing managers will be hiring technical talent such as experienced designers and developers. 34% will bring on data scientists to their teams, while 55% will hire more creative talent.

79% of marketing decision-makers will invest in influencer marketing this year, with 43% planning to invest more than last year, and 22% venturing into the market for the first time.

79% of respondents say that social and cultural issues will play a significant role in their branding and marketing strategy in 2018, while 36% are excited about exploring the trend of brand activism and cause advocacy.

Speaking of the findings, Lidia Luttin, CMO at Bynder, said: “It’s becoming increasingly important for brands to keep up with rapidly evolving audience expectations, as the assumption is for them to contribute to, and even influence, the cultural and social issues in society. Many brands are paying close attention to these shifting expectations and our findings unveil the exciting opportunity and role that new technology can play in bringing them closer than ever before to their customers.”

Founded in 2013 by CEO Chris Hall, Bynder is headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in Boston, London, Barcelona, Rotterdam and Dubai.