“The Butterfly Effect”: Rich Data & AI for Richer Personalized Customer Experience in 2018

In Part Seven of Our Predictions Series 2018, We Explore How the ‘Butterfly Effect’ Is Going to Disrupt the Martech Community

Small drops, big oceans… Minor flutter, gigantic tornado!!! In our scientific parlance, the “Butterfly effect” within martech demonstrates a great metaphorical effect on the way B2B technology ecosystem is shaping up in 2018.

An extension of the Chaos Theory, the butterfly effect is “the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later stage.”

Any resemblance to the contemporary marketing technologies, impacted by the proliferation of the automation, AI/ML and a bunch of other self-driven, human-fed data-powered capabilities! To further our efforts in bringing the most contemporary insights from the martech community, we are featuring senior executives from Adobe, Aki Technologies, Animoto, Contently, eZanga, Equals 3HG Data, Indicative, Reply.io, Thunder, and Quantic Mind.

Hey Marketer! Do You See What AI is Doing to Your Customer Experience Efforts, Under the Hood?

Kevin Lindsay, Director of Product Marketing, Adobe Target, calls on modern marketers to dive deeper into AI-powered technologies that run personalization campaigns.

Kevin Lindsay, Director, Product Marketing, Adobe
Kevin Lindsay, Director, Product Marketing, Adobe Target

Kevin states, “Whether marketers are new to personalization and optimization or run a highly mature, sophisticated program around it, 2018 should be all about exploring AI-driven personalization. But it’s not just enough to have AI running in the background; marketers need visibility into what the machine learning algorithm powering AI is doing under the hood.”

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Kevin added, “Having this insight answers questions about why the algorithm decided to deliver the experience it did, what attributes of the visitor it deemed most predictive, what experience resonated best with what audience, and so on. This information can guide marketers in determining the types of experiences they create and what specific audiences to target in an effort to drive the most accurate personalized experiences at scale.”

Rich and Timely Benefits for Data-savvy Marketers

Jeremy Levy, CEO and Co-Founder, Indicative, predicts, “2018 will be the year of data-savvy marketers. Marketing teams will be expected more than ever to leverage data to optimize their activities.”

Jeremy Levy, CEO, Indicative
Jeremy Levy, CEO, Indicative

Jeremy goes on to add, “This doesn’t mean that marketers will suddenly be required to be data scientists. It means they will be equipped with easy-to-use tools that empower them to simply perform complex analyses. With behavioral analytics platforms like Indicative, marketers will be able to input and assess their own data, without waiting on their data teams to do it for them.”

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Dramatic Rise of DMPs and CDPs

Victor Wong, CEO, Thunder
Victor Wong, CEO, Thunder

Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder, said, “Martech leaders will begin to grapple with their investment in data starting with their data management platforms. The first generation of solutions are now simultaneously facing challenges by Customer Data Platforms and questions on the real reaches of audiences because of match rates between systems. Even tougher questions will come around what exactly they are doing with this data to change the customer and brand experience when they are able to activate it since that was the whole point of the investment.”

… Don’t Leave the Content Marketers Behind in the Race to Deliver Customer Experience

Content will continue to drive rich personalized experiences. However, the theme has gradually shifted from high-volume content to high-value “contextual” content for better personalization, something that drives sustained engagement and ROI.

Henry Bruce, SVP of Marketing, Contently
Henry Bruce, SVP of Marketing, Contently

Henry Bruce, SVP of Marketing, Contently, said, “For CMOs and marketing leaders,  content transformation will continue to gain momentum as a critical aspect of digital transformation. While content is the currency of digital marketing, many companies have not prioritized transforming the content lifecycle according to SiriusDecisions, 75 percent of B2B enterprise organizations have not formalized how they approach content creation.”

Henry added, “There are plenty of opportunities for marketing leaders who take content transformation seriously. According to the CMO Council, 32 percent of a B2C organization’s budget and 28 percent of a B2B organization’s budget is spent on content”–suffice it to say, improving the efficiency and performance of content has the potential to drive significant business results. To accomplish this, senior marketers need to holistically rethink the strategy, process, and technology behind how they create content and adapt them for an always-on, digital world where audiences are increasingly dispersed across an array of disparate channels.”

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A Definitive Move Towards MarTech Simplification for Better Customer Experience

Barbara Winters, VP of Marketing, HG Data, reveals how 2017 was a real eye-opener for the company.

Barbara Winters, VP of Marketing, HG Data
Barbara Winters,
VP of Marketing, HG Data

Barbara said, “As we talked to our customers about what they for their sales and marketing outreach, we quickly realized that they all shared two things in common–

1) all of them wanted comprehensive, accurate and constantly updated data to help them target their sales and marketing programs

2) but none of them was particularly interested in adding another platform to their marketing stack. In fact, the common refrain we heard from our customers was the need for data to simply reside and work in the systems and workflows they already had.”

Barbara added, “In the second half of 2017, we took our first step in delivering on our customers’ request for simplification with the release of our HG Data for Salesforce product, an app that makes our data more accessible and easy to use in Salesforce, a CRM millions of people use each day.”

The leading businesswoman from HG Data predicted, “Moving into 2018 with more than 5,300 vendors now comprising the MarTech ecosystem, we believe the trend toward simplification will continue. And we look forward to creating more data products that support this trend.”

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Quality Assessment and Condensing of MarTech Tools

Richard K. Kahn, CEO at eZanga.com via LinkedIn
Richard Kahn, CEO, eZanga.com

Rich Kahn, CEO of eZanga.com, believes, “In 2018 we’ll see a quality assessment done of tools being used in organizations and the subsequent condensing of tools and vendors. We’ve been quick to jump on new tools and services, hoping to refine small parts of our processes, without necessarily looking at the quality of the analytics and data it pumps out.”

Rich adds, “As such, organizations will be focusing on solid, accurate, quality assessments of their data and will eliminate subpar tools in favor for those that tell the most accurate story. In doing so, it should modernize their focus areas, provide a direct impact on the bottom line and streamline initiatives. This consolidation will really set apart the true performing tools from those that don’t.”

Segmentation and Personalization Will Become Smarter

Olivia Milton, CMO, Reply.io
Olivia Milton, CMO, Reply.io

Olivia Milton, CMO of Reply.io, said, “While 99.9% of sales/marketing emails are already personalized, 2018 will be the year this matures into part of a truly tailored sales funnel. This move will largely be powered by smart integrations. Presently we have the big data, but due to the sheer quantity of it all we’re not able to use it as effectively as we’d like.”

Olivia added, “Most likely with the aid of AI (see above), we’ll be able to implement meaningful segmentation of customers on a much larger range of data. For example, using specific localized weather forecasts integrated with data on customer behavior to offer umbrellas the day it’s due to rain? Priceless.”

Olivia continued, “I also believe we’ll see a more personalized experience throughout the sales funnel, not just in the emails. Websites with personalized content will become the norm. The secret will be walking the fine line between valuable and creepy.”

The 2018 AI Roadmap: Cutting through Hype Cycle to Extract Value

Scott Litman, Founder, Equals 3

Scott Litman, Founder and Managing Partner, Equals 3, provides a middle-path to adapt to and manage AI/ML technologies in 2018. For Scott, nothing can stop the “the intertwine of Big Data & AI”.

Scott said, “Businesses have been investing in infrastructure to capture and license more data, but they still struggle to put it to good use. Valuable data is too often trapped in silos but now tools are becoming available that leverage modern AI that allows marketers to get data from myriad sources in the hands of those who need it most.”

AI Drives Value, AI Drives Hype

Scott added, “AI is everywhere.  In a good way, we’re going to see 2018 as the year that AI becomes more mainstream in marketing and we’ll start to see clear and compelling stories of the value it brings.  But, equal to where AI brings value will be the dis-information around the hype. Businesses large and small are going to feel the need to keep up with the Jones’s and will slap the AI or ML moniker on anything/everything to capitalize on the trend.”

Time to Dig Deeper into Mobile Experiences – The Mobile ‘Moments’

Scott Swanson CEO, Aki Technologies
Scott Swanson, CEO of Aki Technologies

Scott Swanson, CEO of Aki Technologies, said, “Modern marketers are struggling to make meaningful connections with consumers on mobile devices—not because they can’t identify their audience, but because, given the 24-7-365 marketing cycle, it’s really difficult to identify the right moments to engage.”

Scott added, “Demographics, the phase of a day—even location—fall short when it comes to distinguishing when a consumer would be receptive to a video ad versus a banner ad versus, honestly, no ad at all. Marketers need to be able to dig deeper into the mobile experience, understand receptivity and response patterns based on every data point and, then, target the optimal formats and messages accordingly. In 2018, they’ll look for technology that can offer more sophisticated interpretations of mobile activity (with support from AI and machine learning) and seek out new data points to help paint a clearer picture of a given moment.”

More Power to Videos as Primary Information Carriers

Jason Hsiao, Chief Video Officer, Animoto
Jason Hsiao, Chief Video Officer, Animoto

Jason Hsiao, co-founder and Chief Video Officer of Animoto, predicts, “Websites will continue to become less relevant, working as locations for making transactions rather than information centers. With the advancements in content creation for social media, you now have the ability to walk people through their consideration process and convince them that they need your product or service long before they visit your website.”

The co-founder of the video marketing technology platform added, “Marketing in 2018 will no longer be about hoping and waiting for people to come to you. It will be about taking your message to where the conversation is happening and talking directly to the specific people that will want to hear it in a way that captures their attention. And increasingly, the way people want to get their information and the medium that captures their attention is video.”

Diminishing Lines of Omnichannel Marketing Spheres: The Power of Ad Blocking

It’s probably fitting that AdTech’s theme this year is “innovations in the post-advertising era…

Chaitanya Chandrasekar, CEO, QuanticMind
Chaitanya Chandrasekar, CEO, QuanticMind

Chaitanya Chandrasekar, Co-founder and CEO, QuanticMind, points out that living in a multichannel world of both online and offline has a huge impact on the way customers accept information. As Chaitanya puts it, “Social and mobile are both incredibly prominent traffic sources for digital advertising. However, we also live in a world where 1 in 10 consumers use a digital ad blocker and Google will soon add a built-in ad-blocker to the world’s most popular browser Chrome.Does this mean that advertising itself is going extinct? Not by a longshot.”

The CEO of smart advertising platform added, “Four out of five shoppers actually want digital messaging that’s tailored to them. This past year, digital ad spend surpassed that of TV and this wasn’t an accident. Smart advertisers understand that the customer journey is changing and that it’s much more important to be found by in-market customers with the right message at the right time. This is why higher-engagement, higher-intent channels such as Search and Social are still ascendant. It’s also why, between them, Google and Facebook captured 89% of all endemic ad growth in the past year.”

It’s probably fitting that AdTech’s theme this year is “innovations in the post-advertising era,” because advertising as we once knew it is effectively gone. We once lived in a world where, with enough budget, advertisers could blanket a handful of all-encompassing channels. If you covered print, radio, outdoor and a handful of TV stations, you generally reached your audiences and even controlled where and when your message was viewed. No longer!!!

For customer experience marketers, this is “an equally fantastic and exciting time to be an advertiser. There’s a ton of upside for those who are ready and willing to adapt to current and future changes.”

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