“It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
not the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin
“In 2018, we will see successful marketers are those able to prove their products work through data – legitimate and specific data,” said Johanna Beckmen, Vice President of Marketing at VitalConnect. Not far from the truth! Isn’t it?
In Part Six of our Predictions 2018 Series, we bring cutting-edge insights on how leading business representatives are setting their compass to navigate through the maze of contemporary technologies like IoT, Mobile Marketing, Analytics, B2B Data Science, Blockchain, and Content Marketing. This part carries insights from senior executives at Adobe Marketing Cloud, SAP Hybris, VitalConnect, CGS, Cambridge BioMarketing, LogicHub, PROS, NICE, TeleSign, and Simon Data.
Hottest Marketing Topics in 2018: Data Science, Blockchain, and Analytics
John Bates, Director of Product Management, Adobe Analytics Cloud made his predictions across various areas in the digital technology ecosystem.
Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin
The hype (around Blockchain) will continue, yet there will be a shift away from focusing on the underlying technology – and towards building applications that solve real customer problems. While many might be disillusioned by blockchain as the cryptocurrency market continues to skyrocket, the key to being successful here is applying it to non-financial services use cases, and focus on audience sharing/buying between companies.
IoT Hits Primetime
Internet of Things will hit primetime with the incorporation of machine-to-machine smart contract-based transactions. Transactions will occur in the real-world as smart devices and exchanges automatically take place.
Next Phase of Democratization of Analytics
We’ve seen that analytics has gone far beyond simply the data scientist, and in the year to come, new roles such as the developer, product manager, and content creator will not only become comfy with data-driven insights, but fluent in it, and take a leadership role here
Hot Topics Become One
Brands already have the ability to personalize in real time/on the edge but are limited by the data available. 2018 will bring a togetherness of Big Data, data science, and personalization – experiences will finally be more personal than ever, at the very first touchpoint.
Voice Search Readiness: Too Soon for Small, Local Businesses
Bill Nagel, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist, Netsertive, predicts that 2018 may be too early for small, local businesses to consider voice search. Bill said, “If you were one of the reported millions who purchased an Alexa device during the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend, it should come as no surprise that voice search is taking over. Just because usage is up (Google reports nearly 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches), that doesn’t mean retailers of all sizes should jump on the bandwagon quite yet.”
Bill added, “Small and local businesses need to first ensure their digital presence is ready to handle this new technology. Because search engines use sites like Yelp – and especially Google listings, like Google My Business – they must confirm that these are fully up-to-date with an accurate website, location and contact information. The key to voice search success will depend on an organization’s ability to build a digital doorway that is easy for consumers to find and access across platforms – and that begins with enhancing their websites (both mobile and PC) and listings. This will guarantee they are easily found by not only consumers but also by the search engine crawlers responding to a voice inquiry.”
Real-Time Personalization Adoption in B2B Marketing Navigation
Elena Filimonova, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Strategy, CGS, predicts that B2B marketers would continue to dig deeper into B2C strategies to woo customers. The crystal gazing would take us into better personalization and hyper-exactness with relevant content powered by automation. Elena said, “While widely used in B2C marketing, B2B companies, especially those ones with broad product portfolios, have lagged in introducing real-time personalization; and with good reason.”
Elena elucidated, “Several variables need to come together to enable personalized, truly relevant experience for business buyers. This includes collecting data and analyzing buyer behavior over longer periods of time, producing relevant content and introducing personalization platforms that are fully integrated with your existing marketing automation tools and CRM.”
Crystal-gazing further into 2018, Elena added, “I see 2018 as a tipping point for real-time personalization adoption in B2B, as companies have adopted strategies to streamline their buyer persona-based content production and the marketing technology platforms supporting personalization are maturing.”
Business Survival Is Tied to the Ability to Engage Customers
Most business leaders would agree that digital will continue to disrupt all industries in 2018.
Aled Miles, CEO of TeleSign, said, “According to our research, while 99 percent of companies are in the process of digital transformation, only 29 percent have reached advanced stages. Companies in the advanced stage of digital transformation report three times the level of high customer satisfaction – a statistic martech leaders can’t afford to ignore.”
Aled added, “Marketers can prepare for this digital transformation by ramping up their use of cloud communications – SMS, video, voice and push notifications embedded in websites and mobile apps – to reach customers.”
Aled added, “To differentiate and improve customer experience, we believe business survival is tied to the ability to engage customers in delightful experiences where, when and how they want to be reached.”
Not Just Any Personalization, but hyper-Personalized Marketing Becomes the New Norm in Marketing Navigation
Annemarie Crivelli, Director of Digital, Cambridge BioMarketing, said, “Targeting and re-targeting messaging will be mission critical in 2018. As technology becomes more advanced, marketers have a responsibility to communicate and deliver messages that align with audience expectations, behavior and media literacy. These laser focused messages will be key in the healthcare market as precision medicine continues to take hold and consumers expect the same approach to their communications as their care.”
Advanced Automation to the Rescue!
Hormazd Romer, CMO at LogicHub, said, “There will be an increased focus on advanced automation to improve overall lead conversions and reduce cost per conversion. There is tremendous room for improvement in industry-wide conversion rates, and a new generation of solutions promises to help better engage and convert prospects into qualified leads.”
The CMO of LogicHub added, “New MarTech will also increasingly automate tasks performed manually today in marketing ops, giving CMOs better real-time insights correlated across multiple data sources, smoother day-to-day operations with fewer mistakes, much-improved reporting, and automated adaption of digital marketing campaigns.”
A former executive at Oracle, Hormazd explained how customers are demanding a digital experience from virtually every business, and there is no question that successful marketers are stepping up their game with a slew of new MarTech. Hormazd added, “We end up running mini IT departments with all of the typical IT challenges such as integrating solutions, orchestrating workflows between tools, security, performance, and user management. However, CMOs have no choice, to remain competitive they must embrace and master an ever-growing technology stack.”
Advocacy Marketing and Employee-Centric Analytics in B2B Marketing Navigation
Analytics Applied Across Organizations for Better Results
Aviad said, “Next year, we will see a shift in where analytics are applied – from customer to employee – to better serve the customers while heightening the motivation among employees. This inward strategy will help businesses identify what to look for in employee evaluations, how to better train them and what motivation they need.”
Advocacy Marketing Takes off in B2B Marketing Navigation
Johann Wrede, Global Vice President of Strategic Marketing, SAP Hybris, states that 2018 would see the rise of Advocacy Marketing in B2B. Johann said, “Reference customers have long been rigorous to find, particularly in the B2B world. But the online reviews and ratings which consumers have become reliant on for making purchasing decisions are spilling into the professional realm. B2B marketers have responded with branded communities, providing a space where customers can openly share their triumphs and frustrations, and engage in transparent dialog to help one another.”
Johann added, “Marketers can take advantage of these insights to showcase their brand promise and integrity, and amplify the positive experiences which often emerge in these forums.”
Matured Adoption of AI-Powered Solutions in B2B Marketing and Sales
Expected Spike in Customer Demand for Interactive Powered by AI/ML Technologies
Craig Zawada, Chief Visionary Officer, PROS, states, “In 2018, we are going to see a variety of industries implement more AI-powered solutions in the B2B sales process.” Craig added, “Machine-guided algorithms will play a prominent role in automating and analyzing opportunity detection, which is a better and faster way of uncovering previously hidden opportunities. This will enable sales teams to more quickly and intelligently identify hidden growth opportunities across their accounts, alert them to potential customer churn to avoid potential losses, and personalize recommendations for prospects.”
Further, Craig stated, “We also anticipate a spike in customer demand for interactive, personalized, self-service experiences, which will drive the adoption of AI-powered pricing and sales tools in the year ahead.”
Defining AI’s Role in Marketing Navigation
Joshua Neckes, Co-founder of Simon Data, said, “In 2018, marketers will finally start figuring out what AI actually is…and what it can or can’t do. Over the past year, the martech world has been bombarded with talk of an AI-driven future in which machines assume the burden of marketing decision-making, but the reality has failed to deliver against the hype. This is because these systems are hard to operate, requiring accurate data inputs and constant monitoring.”
Joshua added, “Strict data accuracy must be maintained to measure ROI, and the technologies themselves must be flexible enough to optimize against ROI models that match customer needs, instead of vendor wants.”
Joshua also offered words of caution to marketers. “Moving forward, savvy organizations must work to demystify AI — understanding its strengths, weaknesses, data availability requirements — in order to turn the AI dream into a reality. Without that, AI technologies will remain black-box, operationally fickle sources of weak wins that aren’t worth the headache. In 2018, leading-edge companies will prioritize understanding AI by partnering with smart and transparent technology vendors,” added Joshua.
The Compass Pivots on Clean and Structured Data: The Real Competitive Advantage
For marketing navigation, marketers need to pivot their compass for technology on Right Data streams. To understand this better, we spoke to Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun &Bradstreet around our predictions series 2018, we realized that marketers are still miles away from leveraging the ‘right’ data for their campaigns.
As Rishi puts it, “If it’s, as we like to say, “dirty data,” your information will be compromised. If you want to make better business decisions, you need to master your data. Companies who do not place an emphasis on accurate and fresh data in 2018 will lose out.”
So, who will win the race– a marketer who has all the data, but not enough insights; or, the one who has a laser-focused vision to deliver customer experience across omnichannel campaigns. Could be both, depending on what martech you use, and how close you get your tech +human approach to your C.U.S.T.O.M.E.R.S.