The days of telemarketers are long gone.
New business models are being created rapidly, harnessed by a proliferation of mobile endpoints and ubiquitous data that enables a meaningful shift in engagement. Just take a look at these progressions in the last few years:
- The world’s largest taxi company, Uber, does not own vehicles. Uber uses technology and mobile devices to connect a marketplace of individuals who need rides to individuals with cars.
- Facebook mobile ads did not exist 24 months ago and it’s now a leading advertising platform.
- Artificial intelligence was once something we only saw in Sci-Fi movies and is now used to create new, innovative tech products like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s self-driving car.
- Virtual reality (VR) was inaccessible until three months ago; now Oculus is in the hands of consumers and enabling them to use VR beyond gaming–in entertainment, real estate, and even medicine.
These changes in business models have major implications for how marketers should reach and engage their buyers. Here are three ways that technology is transforming marketing:
1. Technology is Empowering Marketing
Mobile is dominating your buyers’ mindshare. On average, smartphone owners spend two hours a day accessing apps and websites on their phone and pick up or glance at their phones 150-200 times a day, according to Forrester Research’s 2015 report, “Vendor Landscape: Mobile Engagement Automation Solution.” That amounts to 30 billion mobile micro-moments a day, and that’s just in the US.
As social media and email become more mobile-centric, they become significant drivers of revenue growth, especially in commerce. And the importance of mobile will only accelerate as mobile-first millennials become more financially independent. With more disposable income, they are expected to make a bigger impact on cross-channel activities that span from digital touchpoints to physical. So how can marketers seize this opportunity?
The evolution of consumer devices and marketing automation platforms has implications on roles across the organization, from marketing to finance to strategy to engineering. Sophisticated marketing automation platforms allow marketers to engage buyers across all channels and listen and respond to their behaviors and actions simultaneously. New opportunities to test ideas, products, services, and techniques will be available regardless of level and function. In a sense, marketing and the customer experience will soon be top-of-mind for everyone across the organization.
But keep in mind: as technology becomes richer, so does data—but not always in a digestible way. Marketing and analytics will soon become synonymous and the role of a marketer will be redefined as a technologist, analyst, and designer. Marketers are already coding their own emails, analyzing complex data to understand customer experiences, and designing their own assets. This all is made possible with technology, enabling them to become self-sufficient.
2. Data is Evolving
Learning to use data to reach buyers will be a priority in the next 3-5 years, stressing the importance of intent-based marketing and creating emotional connections. Research has shown that buyers cannot predict their future behaviors, making it difficult for marketers to predict how and when to engage them. Big data can help uncover these hidden insights.
To fully seize the potential of big data, it’s critical to adapt to evolving data models:
- Data is no longer only in rows and columns. In the last two years, content providers like Facebook have intertwined data and marketing to create people-based marketing. Making the connection between online, mobile, and in-store experiences allows you to build experiences that are individualistic based on all of your buyers’ actions.
- Reaching your customers at the right time, in the right place, with the right message requires navigating an increasingly complex ad tech ecosystem. To ensure real-time, relevant marketing, you need the right technology solutions to process all the different inputs and outputs of data.
- Listening and responding to consumers can no longer be done in a channel silo. Your buyers are looking for an experience that is integrated across all channels (e.g. social, email, mobile, offline) and relevant based on everything they do. Consider changes in your buyers’ environment, device type, and preferences, and then adapt your marketing to those changes.
Big data will help marketers make smarter decisions and formulate more sophisticated predictive models. These advances will help you identify a need before your buyer knows it, thus shortening the purchase cycle.
3. Technology is Impacting the Entire Organization
According to a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 86% of CMOs and senior marketing executives believe they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. This implicates that the CMO’s definition of success is being redefined.
Marketing organizations are no longer tied to just acquiring customers and retaining them, but also improving the customer experience. Today, leading organizations like eBay have adopted goals such as incremental revenue and return on investment, translating to customer lifetime value. Marketers are now measured on product and technology investment returns, making it imperative to work closely with product, engineering, and sales.
Similarly, engineering is not just responsible for building the next product or upgrade, but also testing its marketability and brand alignment. Financial statements will have a breakdown not just by product but also by platform and marketing vehicles. And strategy needs to understand product-market fit and how it maps to relevant marketing vehicles.
Whether it’s new platforms, data capabilities, or technology, the way marketers connect and engage with buyers is fundamentally changing. Don’t get left behind—apply these lessons to every aspect of your marketing:
- Identify how technology plays a role in your everyday decision-making. Don’t forget to include all your channels and consider how one influences the others.
- Think about data in a multi-dimensional view. Data isn’t always straightforward and will not always be numbers. It’s up to marketers to understand both the qualitative and quantitative data that influences the customer experience.
- Identify the keys to success as a company–from the investments made in people, products, technology–both internally and externally. Ask yourself: how am I validating those investments in what I do every day? Are those costs that I should take into consideration when determining the incremental profit I drive for the company?
Marketing integration tools, rich data, and revolutionary marketing channels like virtual reality will continue to transform marketing. It’s up to you to determine how quickly you will adopt that transformation.
What other shifts do you see that are redefining marketing? Share your insights in the comments below.