It’s that time of year again, when we reflect on our successes and failures, reset our budgets and prepare to start all over again. With it comes a continual emphasis on marketing technology (MarTech) and the potential it can bring.
The role of marketing continues to change, and our customers’ expectations are ever higher. Everyone wants and expects an Amazon or Netflix experience. With so many options, where should smart CMOs (and CEOs) spend their MarTech budgets in 2018? Below are 10 major trends for 2018 that will impact both B2B and B2C.
If your websites and marketing channels are still delivering product-centric, one-sized fits all messaging, prepared to be left in the dust. Today marketing needs to deliver personalization at scale across multiple devices and channels and this will be the rule, not the exception in 2018. Your website may feature 20-plus different home page experiences depending upon the persona and where they are in their buyer’s journey. Emails need to be micro-focused. Advertising needs to be contextual and deliver the right message at the right time. Every touch, every message, every user experience needs to be personalized and relevant. If not, customers will turn you off and go somewhere else.
With greater power, comes greater responsibility. Uncle Ben may not be running your marketing department, but his advice should still be followed. Today the convergence of AdTech and MarTech gives marketing a lot more capability to deliver contextualized messages at scale, but this needs to be balanced with ever-growing government regulations and customer preferences. Start with your customers and what they want, then figure out how to give it to them and secure their privacy.
“Don’t be lured by every new shiny new tech tool on the market. Instead, be mindful of your business objectives and pare them with your investment decisions.”
- Ad Blocking
People want useful content, not ads. Between the ability to stream commercial free content and block ads on multiple devices, customers are indicating their preference for how they want to engage. Smart publishers and marketing executives will need to figure out how to deliver their messages via content and contextual conversation, or adjust their business models to offer premium content for a fair subscription price. But ad blocking will continue to rise and make it more difficult for advertisers to reach their audience without paying a premium.
- Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its way into multiple applications, as machine learning augments our ability to consume large amounts of data and determine next best actions. Many vendors have a variety of initiatives underway to add more AI capability to their platforms. One of the ways to evaluate your technology partners in 2018 is to ask them about their current and planned AI capabilities and then ask them to demonstrate multiple use cases on how it would be applied.
With the sheer number of social channels, community sites, feedback mechanisms and more, most marketing organizations cannot manually keep up with all the customer service requests. Customers expect quick responses – often under an hour when they post a complaint or comment. Chatbots are a very scalable solution to effectively manage customer service, social monitoring and customer engagement activities.
- Automated Content Sourcing and Syndication
The web is already deluged with content and most marketing teams are forever behind the curve in producing meaningful content in a timely manner. Content sourcing, employee advocacy and social amplification software provides marketers with AI and business rules driven software that can scour the web for meaningful content at all stages of the buying journey. It curates, tags and sorts it in one cloud-based location and then can very easily be syndicated through your employees and through multiple marketing channels. These tools are a must-have in 2018.
- Conversational Web
Alexa or Google Home anyone? Voice activated search now makes up 30% of all search inquiries and will only grow exponentially as IoT allows customers to engage without a traditional user interface. In the next few years, websites, applications and channels will be conversational. Smart executives should start planning on how to integrate voice and conversation into their primary channels and applications.
- Mobile and Proximity Search and Marketing
The right message at the right time at the right place. Smartphones are ubiquitous. Location and proximity marketing are not just limited to B2C. All marketers can serve up specific products, services and messages tailored to where the user is and what they are looking for. Localization will continue to play a major factor in 2018, even for traditional websites.
- Video Marketing
Video content and video search have outpaced traditional search and all other channels for a couple of years now. Video platforms and video marketing through multiple channels are an essential part of today’s marketing mix, as customers want more interactive and immersive experiences. Websites and marketing channels that feature more video will continue to outperform.
- Big Data
Data is growing at an exponential rate. Data lakes and data warehouses are obsolete. Smart marketers are investing in customer data platforms, AI-driven business intelligence tools and visualization to match data fragments around the customer, not around the company. This will continue to be a top 3 budget item in 2018.
Keep these MarTech trends in mind as you plan for marketing spend in 2018. Don’t be lured by every new shiny new tech tool on the market. Instead, be mindful of your business objectives and pare them with your investment decisions. Too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing, so choose your marketing toys wisely.