If you’re expecting to read the usual skin-deep predictions about augmented or virtual reality, and artificial intelligence consuming the marketing landscape, you’re in the wrong place. They’re relevant, sure - but overall, this is a hand which most of the world’s brands are nowhere near ready to play yet.
We need a more realistic, and immediately impactful approach to technology when it comes to building affinities with people across customer channels.
Here are five ways martech will dig a little deeper for businesses in the coming year.
1. Interest in IoT (internet of things) will reach fever pitch, says Forrester
The increase in IoT usage over the foreseeable future means consumers are reachable on a host of new devices, but this also underscores the importance of security, analysis and management to support a growing network of opportunity.
Beyond branching out analytics capabilities, marketers adopting IoT channels must pave the way for a future of smart homes and smart cities beyond 2017, by making sure they have the freedom to connect any best-of-breed system. Think beacon technology to bridge the gap between online and offline, via Bitposter’s recently launched programmatic out of home (OOH) screens, and website interactions.
This requires martech which can deliver integration, and real-time activation of all data across anything, so customers can be reached at scale regardless of which robot they decide to let into their lives.
2. But this means getting the basics right first
Before you fire out a horde of new campaigns specifically engineered to Amazon Echo or Google Home, go for the low hanging fruit - and understand what your customers want. 2017 is the year of ecosystem housekeeping; and that shouldn’t mean out with the old, in with the new. By making sure databases such as CRM, email and mobile Apps talk to one another in real-time, you can already cater for simple human preferences in your marketing activities.
This extends to acknowledging, and resolving the issue of owning customer data: through Martech which operates around a single customer profile, brands can populate information, and cross-pollinate marketing actions, even between media giants like Google, Facebook and owned channels like email.
For those who have a penchant for browsing by search, and booking on mobile, make sure you can deliver on journeys your customers take now, not those you hope they take tomorrow.
3. Martech makes businesses restructure for customer-centricity
In the race between technology and people, this is no longer considered a ‘nice to have’, but a critical path for progression; and it’s not only marketers who realise that incremental change no longer works when it comes to competing in a customer-led environment. Organisational change for martech means multi-disciplinary teams which centre on the customer journey: the display department might split into acquisition and retention; a CRM and social media specialist might join separate web analysts to focus on awareness or product up-sell. 2017 will embrace the shift in collective mindset which will equip brands for a fast-paced future.
4. And so CMO technology spend will overtake that of CIOs
Gartner’s 2016 CMO spend report suggests that CMO and CIO spend is almost on a par, and by 2017 the CMO will lead on tech spend. To match this, the role must evolve: not only does this mean a hybrid skillset of left and right brain to balance the scales of analysis and inventiveness, but the CMO needs to rely less on reactive execution and focus on strategy. With a rising emphasis on martech by way of business structure and customer operations, a new pragmatic approach for marketing leaders will see them engineering the ‘production line’ next year, and becoming accountable - a ticket to either the boardroom, or the nearest exit.
5. 2017 - the year to stride purposefully into the human age of Martech
The ‘digital age’ we have referred to for over a decade is now just part of the furniture. What brands must work on in terms of technology today is making sure we can humanise our approach to marketing - and this means a single customer profile, catalysed into actions, across channels. It means the ability to reduce creepy retargeting; and manage dosage so marketing no longer means digitally yelling or stalking - but instead delivering on the promise of technology: personalisation at scale.
Marketing demands a seismic shift in focus from channel to customer - regardless of the next big thing. Do too little - move too slowly, and competing brands will win at the last hurdle regardless of product or price.
It’s time to get going, right now.
Simon Bloom, UK commercial director, Relay42
Tel: +44 (0)20 369 505 83