If I had to assign a theme to this article’s 2019 predictions, I would need to call upon Michael Corleone and dust off his famous line, “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.”
Now, I offer no offense to Michael (I have a good idea what happens to those who fail to respect the youngest Corleone), but many of the predictions made below are in service of making business more personal.
In fact, a lack of tolerance for the generic or the contextually inaccurate further supports marketing technology’s focus on leveraging large data sets to create more relevant interactions in real time.
And while this article is about marketing technology, there’s a special craft to message, content development, and storytelling in a data-driven world that’s pulling the marketing pendulum back to “art” after being squarely lodged in the “science” position for five to seven years. That shift is giving light to an emerging skillset: the marketer who understands the value of content uniqueness, empathy and humor as well as the strength and availability of data, and thinks about each in the context of one and other.
Compliance-based marketing and Preference Management:
The onset of GDPR has ushered in a new age of permission-based marketing. The “old ways” of acquiring leads like list purchases are becoming obsolete. Organizations are going to double down on gaining explicit opt-ins for different marketing channels.
Content marketing channel management:
We’ll see a bidirectional flow of communication for content consumption preferences, and delivery mechanisms adapting on the fly. If we can deduce that you prefer video, you’ll receive information in video form and vice versa.
AI-based analytics is going to be the new norm, as organizations move away from traditional, static reports. Engines that are looking at large data sets, learning, and trying to predict outcomes based on historical behavior will be the new direction in analytics.
Account-based Customer Profiles:
While ABM continues to be critical, we’ll see more time and effort put into gathering insights for the individual profiles in the buying center to ensure that individual messages within the ABM play are relevant to each role.
Enabler, not a Solution:
Marketers will start considering Marketing Technology more as an enabler than as a solution (not as a be-all end-all). This will shape how they implement and leverage it to solve business problems and drive outcomes.
Do more than Less:
It is time to “peel the onion” when it comes to a technology and really understand its true potential, the different aspects/components/
Specific Applications for AI:
AI will be broken down into how it can solve different yet very specific problems or optimize certain applications in marketing. It will create its own niche. Marketers will approach AI-driven technologies with a lot of maturity as to whether their organization truly needs it or is even ready for it rather than “we need AI just because others are using it or everyone is talking about it.”
Think about how during the less-technology days, we used to approach marketing. What data do we have or need, to understand customer needs or challenges or feedback, then how do we apply a marketing framework layer to it (like mapping buying stages to personas and in turn to content and strategy) and add on an execution and finally a measurement layer. This will be a common language or approach across differential business domains.
Marketing Measurement will become complicated, but much more aligned with business goals and not just vanity metrics. This will also feed into product/technology evolution in the measurement/attribution space.
Data Management (cleansing, enrichment, consolidation etc etc, really going granular with data) will become critical to scale marketing initiatives led by plethora of technologies.
The death of the standalone marketing automation platform:
The investment in a marketing automation tool is a costly one and is accompanied by certain executive-level expectations for functioanlity and ROI. It’s hard to justify the spend when the platform is only doing a fraction of what you need it to do. We’re seeing digital engagement platforms combine forces with marketing automation platforms to ensure the inbound, outbound, and customer marketing requirements are met within the martech ecosystem.
The single pane of glass:
You see a lot of cross-functional effort to stitch systems together, crunch data, then add a visualization layer to the top of it. This effort to turn insights into a story is very time consuming for a mid-level marketing manager. Martech needs to bake more confident, accurate out-of the-box reporting into their platforms. The strength and robustness of the out-of-the-box reporting is going to become a bigger decision driver because marketing professionals are looking for a single pane of glass that they can trust, that is going to help them improve their efforts and gain executive buy-in.