Marketing is in a transitional era. New technologies have changed so much about how marketers work — from the responsibilities of the chief marketing officer, to what content is created, and why.
At Fjuri, my team and I work with CMOs and marketing teams to improve their marketing strategies and customer outreach by tapping into data analytics and marketing automation. This includes the use of analytics to understand how current and potential customers behave and make decisions in different contexts and to analyze the design of demand generation programs to increase marketing performance and return on investment (ROI).
The smartest marketers today are agile and able to quickly adapt to change. From experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) and refining how we use big data to connecting with consumers on their own terms and building brand loyalty with authentic storytelling, here are five trends I see shaping the future of marketing.
1. It is imperative to practice better data hygiene.
Most marketers recognize the huge potential in big data, but they’re also overwhelmed by the unprecedented volume and variety of unstructured information. It’s not enough to just gather the data — marketers are trying to figure out how to separate the useful consumer insights from the noisy data waste. In my experience, with clearer data signals, marketers can use relevant insights to develop smarter, more targeted campaigns.
And it’s not just about the right data but how quickly companies learn from that data to optimize the customer experience. If you want to drive stronger daily active use of your technology product, you’ve got to get into what’s actually working, what’s not and how you can improve. This is also true for marketers — how they’re buying, retargeting and using the right data to improve the message, the content and the experience they’re delivering to customers.
2. Art and science are the keys to successful content marketing.
With the proliferation of analytics tools for measuring content performance, the way marketers value content is changing. We’ve already seen the push toward using machine learning to identify behavioural patterns — next is leveraging this data to inform creative strategy.
From my perspective, successful content marketing will depend heavily on marketers’ ability to quickly identify pertinent data about how consumers engage with content and how much of that data is relevant to informed decision making.
Today, every interaction a customer has with your content is an opportunity to build a relationship with them and ultimately bring them one step closer to making a purchase or related decision. By the same token, if the experience you’re delivering isn’t personalized to their needs, you’re going to see an impact. The reality is there’s no longer a one-size-fits-all model for marketers to follow, so marketers need to rethink their content and distribution by channel with the broader customer experience in mind.
3. We have a foundation for deeper AI integration.
People are starting to notice artificial intelligence and its impact on the world. Last year, a lot of the chatter about AI revolved around its big implications and how to use it in the short term. Unfortunately, all of the short-term focus has set some pretty unrealistic expectations about what’s possible versus what is still years in the making.
Marketers are already using AI in ad exchanges and for campaign optimization. If marketers want to remain competitive, they’ll explore ways to integrate AI into the customer experience with chatbots and automation to supplement their customer engagement efforts, among other things.
4. Brands are building loyalty with authentic storytelling.
Smart marketers already understand that modern consumers are self-directed. But consumers aren’t just seeking content — they’re seeking personalized experiences. In other words, they’re looking for content that does more than just promote a product.
The key is to start small, identify what works, and then scale out a cohesive campaign that tells an authentic story — across multiple channels, connecting with people in real-time, no matter where they are.
5. Digital display ads are at a crossroads.
It’s no secret that display ads aren’t as effective as they used to be, and 2017 was a tumultuous year in digital ad land. But despite the rise of ad-blocking software, marketers have been increasing their investments in mobile, social and programmatic ads.
The way I see it, it’s time for marketers to really consider the value of display — especially on mobile — and use data insights to determine which tactics are effective in order to invest their ad dollars wisely.
In line with this, we continue to see brands and marketers evolve to use a broader mix of media options, from display to native, video, and mobile advertising. Also quickly emerging is the use of hyper-personalized content and experiences from augmented reality to live content across platforms.
Some of the most successful brands in the world today are focused on delivering a better customer experience. Marketers have to make sure they have the right technology and customer data to allow them to deliver the right content and experiences across channels and in the moment.
With myriad complex touch points and a decision journey for customers that is constantly changing, tapping into the trends above is a must for marketers and brands to win.