Author: Avi Ben Ezra is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Cofounder of SnatchBot and SnatchApp (Snatch Group Limited)
Marketers, today have a variety of tools available to them to offer consumers and business buyers the convenience, relevance and responsive engagement expected. Customers are now better connected than ever before, they have presence and interact across a broad range of media. The fast pace with which marketing continues to move forward means that it is extremely easy to be left behind and the fast developments in marketing technologies are not something to be ignored. They not only make predictions easier, but also take a load of work off the shoulders of the employees in the marketing department but also increase the way that the rest of the company interacts with its customers, giving them the personalization and interaction that they demand. A good marketing program necessitates that marketers make use of these modern technology trends, since they understand the needs and behaviors of their consumers better than everyone else, presenting initiatives that will continue transforming their company campaigns to meet the challenges ahead.
With the second quarter of 2019 already gone, what are those technology trends that will continue to shape the way marketers plan ahead?
Taking the statistics from previous years and comparing then with the present, there is a significant rise in marketing tech users and companies are seeing noteworthy results in their competitive advantage.
It is estimated that the sharing of marketing metrics with sales teams has grown at a rate of 21% in the last year and a half and similarly, so have the number of data sources used by marketers. The adoption of AI is increasing at an even faster rate and marketers are making more use of coordinated channels too.
What is driving these increases?
The driving force behind the increases is the connected customer, who expects convenience, relevance and responsive engagement. Consumers judge a company from their overall experience and never separate interactions with various departments. Therefore, it is important that they see the company that they buy from as one with the company that they interact with and that they get the same level of service across all departments.
According to consumer surveys, today’s consumers don’t only have high standards for product quality, but also expect these to be matched in other interactions with other services that they might need. Competition is stiff and consumers have all the information about competitors available in seconds through their Smartphones and laptops.
Gone are the days when each department worried about its own performance. Today, sales, customer service, commerce and marketing are responsible for ensuring the entire consumer experience – no department can afford to act independently from the other. The initiatives for these efforts always fall onto the marketing department since it completely understands customer needs and behavior.
How can marketers lead their companies to success?
These three essential technology trends will enable marketers to continue to direct businesses in a successful direction.
- Personalization is the top priority
The majority of customers, more than 75%, expect that companies understand their needs and expectations. At the same time, over 50% expect that any offers they receive are personalized. Therefore, personalization is a crucial element and comes with important benefits which include: brand building, lead generation, customer acquisition, up-selling; customer retention and customer advocacy.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most important marketing tech tools for personalization because it aids marketers to unlock the data needed.
The capabilities of AI are expand continuously and so do the ways that marketers use it: predictive journeys, real-time offers, improved customer segmentation, personalized channel experience, automated social and messenger app interactions, dynamic landing pages and websites, media buying, and offline/online data experience facilitation and programmatic advertising.
Personalization is important to customers, but so is transparency about how that data is used. Regulators also worry about transparency and recent data breaches have also shaken consumer confidence.
High percentages (over 75%) of customers do trust companies with personal information if it is to be used to fully personalize their experience, but they demand clarity on how the information will be used.
In the past two years, marketers are more mindful about how privacy and personalization can be balanced in order to fully satisfy their customer needs.
- Making sense of customer data
Data sources for marketers abound as they go about tallying email open rates, ad click rates and more. This information allows them to engage the right individual with the right information and also at the right time. In 2017, the median data sources available to marketers were 10 and the number has shot up by 15% already in a period of just 2 years.
More data does not necessarily mean a more unified view, as many marketers struggle to make sense of all the data that becomes available. A mix of various solutions is often the preferred set up for some marketers, where they unite data from marketing databases to email service providers. Another one of the fast growing areas in marketing tech is data management platforms (DMP) which are offering a wide range of solutions for this problem and for many others too.
Originally, DMP was mostly used for monitoring ad performance and optimizing media campaigns. Organizations have evolved its uses and now often include the management of customer identity and other solutions. DMP use is on the rise and it will continue to offer marketers a unified solution to their customer identity challenges and vital opportunities in marketing management.
- Cross-channel marketing
The top challenge and priority for marketers is to have the ability to engage customers in cross-channel, real-time conversations. This is where proper use of RPA and omni-channel chatbot solutions are valuable.
Even though cross-channel marketing is not a new concept, it is not always easy to achieve since most customers now use an average of 10 channels in their communications with companies. Standard expectations are to have two-way communication with customers. Most messages across channels are duplicates, and there is no coordination between them. The ideal communication, something which most companies are aiming to achieve, is to engage customers dynamically across channels through messages that evolve across each communication channel.
The channels of communication are mostly: website, mobile app, social advertising, video advertising, social publishing, Email, mobile messaging, banner ads, paid search (SEM) and voice activated personal assistants.
Marketers need to start meeting the expectations that customers have for cross-channel engagement. Marketing technology allows for such collaboration between marketing and the other teams within the business, allowing it to be more competitive.
The integration of new technologies will be the way forward for businesses in order for them to be able to better enhance their customer experience. Of the marketing technologies that are expected to have the biggest impact on interactions, data collection, and personalization are the technologies of artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
Marketers need to take time to start understanding how the digital landscape and the technology it offers can improve the performance of their campaigns. Perhaps, starting with the implementation of one trend to may be enough, but incorporating them cohesively can lead to even greater results. Suggested reading: Avi Ben Ezra on Chatbot deployment in Europe.