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Marketing performance optimization and the next three years — or longer...

Predictions 2018: Data Analytics

Today’s marketing professionals are facing a flurry of challenges. Most prominent, however, is marketing performance optimization (MPO) and how marketers are able to get there dealing with complex, siloed data assets.

With marketing departments using anywhere from 10-30 — and in some cases, more — point solutions in their marketing technology (MarTech) stack and accountability increasingly becoming more critical, I am going to shine a light on the predictions I see becoming more central to the marketer’s life. One thing is certain: Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will equip marketing departments with the ability to achieve the holy grail of MPO.

Looking ahead into 2018, I am already seeing traction on all these fronts but we’re still in the very nascent phases of AI, MPO and one-to-one marketing.

Getting to Segment of One, at Scale, Across the Customer Experience Will Become the New Normal

Today’s customers have set extremely high expectations for an ideal customer experience. Now it is up to marketers to do their best to meet this all-new benchmark. Just think: If I — as a customer — am a member of your brand universe and I have given you access to personal data, I expect you to deliver an awesome customer experience across devices and channels in this transaction-based relationship. Every touch needs to be polished and flow along with the customer’s respective journey. Friction occurs when a customer is forced to repeat an action or is exposed to incentives that are either out of date or lacking relevancy.

Increasingly, customers will expect a certain level of excellence and understanding of who they are on a segment of one basis across paid, owned and earned channels. While some enterprises are already doing so with success, expect this to be the new normal for all marketers soon.

AI Will Move Along the Hype Cycle Fast and Augmented Analytics Will Become a Must-Have

In August Gartner announced its well-regarded hype cycle. The benchmark technology research company put machine learning, which is one of the most useful applications of AI, at the very top of the hype cycle for emerging technology. Although we’re in the nascent stages of AI, I feel that this will move through the cycle at a faster pace than anticipated. This is because AI-powered applications in data analytics is already proving value today. Take, for example, the following: Retailers are benefiting from personalized incentivization and loyalty programs to shape customer behavior that effectively move excess inventory.

Adding to this, augmented analytics will become more prominent as marketing organizations democratize data science from PhD-level scientists to analyst-level business users. This is just emerging, however, I believe this will become ubiquitous for marketers as AI becomes more critical to driving MPO across marketing programs. For example, an insights engine will show users that Creative A is working well for Segment ABC, resulting in higher conversion rates in Region Z; however, Creative B is not connecting with Segment ABC, so, it’s best to reallocate those campaign dollars to Creative A.

Accountability Becomes the Rule

Right now marketing departments are under significant pressure to deliver a solid return on investment (ROI) but this expectation has been set as many organizations do not have visibility into the true performance of their respective marketing programs. In turn, CMOs have turned to technology to break down silos and better inform them of performance, which has driven spending upwards. Currently, marketing spend is on track to outpace the IT department. In addition, the marketing department stands to gain even more power within forward-thinking businesses because it will have the deepest level of understanding of its customers. Armed with a granular level of detail on individual customers and their behavior, marketing will have the ability to better inform the sales process and even own the customer experience function to deliver on consumer’s expectations.

But, don’t forget: With great power comes great responsibility. In other words, every initiatives’ ROI is going to be tracked and measured, and understanding each customer’s lifetime value will become essential to doing business in a modern world.

Katrin Ribant, CSO, Co-founder, Datorama.

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