I was recently asked my thoughts on how technology and digital trends will shape the future of marketing. As I pondered this question, I took note of all of the ways that I am digitally connected to the outside world. My laptop, smartphone, phablet, tablet, and e-reader were all dripping digital data to some unseen force through my WiFi connection. A fitness tracker awaited the opportunity to observe and report my next activity. Acting as marshals for many of these resources were my modem and router, which collected the needed inputs and outputs and converted my actions into trackable information.
The New Digitally Savvy Customer
Digital capabilities, indeed, are built into many of the products we use or consume today -- offering marketers the chance to collect, distill and understand data in new and compelling ways. The tradeoff? We are now breeding a generation of customers who have a greater level of sophistication and greater technological expectations, for the companies that they patronize, in their personal and business worlds.
In a recent survey of chief marketing officers by Gartner, marketers cited the satisfaction of these plugged-in customers as their top innovation project for 2015. A recent study by Conductor showed that 65 percent of marketing executives plan on spending more on marketing technology in 2015, with a large percentage (28%) planning to spend more than 25 percent.
Marketing Technology Landscape
Of course, many companies are still trying to figure out how to optimize their use of last year’s technologies -- search engine strategies, web analytics, email campaigns, webinars, social media, blogs, online video and mobile marketing. And, in case there’s any doubt about the continued proliferation of such tools, this supergraphic should serve as an apt reminder.
It is just overwhelming to try to review the graphic and get actual takeaways about how to leverage each piece of technology within the marketing technology ecosphere. In actual life, users are confused today about which marketing technology to use, and how.
Marketers simply have a large number of options today. If a marketer encounters an issue, there is surely a marketing technology company that has already set out to solve that issue.
It is worth re-emphasizing that at its core, marketing technology helps customers connect with businesses and to help businesses better understand the customer needs and journey.
Priorities for 2015
Technology has facilitated the collection of vast amounts of customer data. The next task for marketers is to leverage analytics and translate this data to help customers and businesses better make these connections.
Personalization is a big part of facilitating these connections and enhancing the customer experience. Digital marketers need to have an integrated approach -- encompassing multiple devices -- to meet customer demands for easy information access via mobile devices and a unified service experience across channels.
To address user privacy concerns and increasing wariness of “gated” content that requires personal data for access, marketers need to work especially hard to gain consumer trust. By focusing on quality and ensuring that the content is very relevant and valuable for users, marketers may be able to ease some of these hesitations regarding privacy.
According to Aberdeen, 95% of B2B sales are directly influenced by content. It’s a particularly powerful way to influence the decision makers to which the sales people don’t have direct access. Yet, content overload will be a serious risk factor in 2015. Companies can address this issue by giving quality a greater weight of importance than frequency, using a variety of formats including slides, infographics and videos, and making content interactive.
As part of sales enablement, it is important to figure out the content that salespeople find most effective in engaging prospects and closing deals. That content and its usage can then be promoted across the sales teams.
The good news is that there are indeed shortcuts to harnessing the power of the digital revolution. Cloud-based tools have been a game-changer for all companies – big and small. Just as enterprises are looking for more “turnkey solutions” rather than just “individual box” purchases, consumers will also look for integration of their digital products/ services.
The next iteration is a “Marketing-as-a-Service,” or MaaS model. In this model, companies retain the core roles for internal teams and outsource the functions for designing, building, and optimizing the marketing infrastructure and its applications. In 2015, we’ll see Marketing-as-a-Service include new cloud-based offerings such as content-as-a-service, analytics-as-a-service, and even community-as-a-service.
Technology’s sweeping impact on the craft of marketing can, understandably, be an overwhelming prospect. As you sort through your 2015 resolutions, keep in mind that now is the time to prioritize the adoption of “digitally-awake” strategies that keep you in step with – if not one step ahead of – your customer.
How are you currently using marketing technology? What changes will you make in 2015?