As the old proverb goes, it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
Yet as a new year starts, making predictions is part of our jobs. Priorities have to be set, budgets allocated, and resources diverted according to how things have changed over the past 12 months.
Econsultancy has several posts which make bold statements about the future of digital, but to change things up slightly we asked a few industry experts to chime in with their vision of what we will see in 2017 as well.
In the brief video, Antonia Edmunds from IBM Marketing Cloud offers her views on what marketers should expect in the coming year.
While the trends Ms. Edmunds mentions may not have achieved mass acceptance yet, it seems that marketers have been talking about each of these topics over the past year.
Below are summaries of each of the points and links to further reading on the topics.
1. Cognitive marketing will give marketers better customer insights
Cognitive marketing, or marketing which uses technology that mimics the human brain to improve performance, was just starting to emerge as a concept in 2016. Industry experts feel that there will soon be an ‘explosion’ in the number of marketing systems which use it, though.
When the topic was discussed at an Econsultancy event in Delhi, participants came up with three ways in which cognitive marketing could be used to help them understand their customers better and improve their performance.
Segment audiences in new ways
Cognitive-based systems will be better at finding behavioural characteristics among people who appear to be very different.
Marketers using cognitive technology would be able to redesign messaging so that virtually every consumer saw something different, and something which was more relevant to them.
Help customers make better decisions
By using massive computing power and large data sets, cognitive marketing systems will be able to identify unmet and unstated customer needs and help brands produce better offers and product guidance.
2. Marketers will shift from siloed channel strategies to cross-channel engagement
Marketers needed little prompting in 2016 to discuss their plans for how they were tackling the difficult task of delivering cross-channel marketing.
At a recent event in Melbourne, marketers came up with three main points about what it will take for brands to follow consumer behaviour and become truly omnichannel.
Identify data sources and break down silos
Effective cross-channel marketing is ‘all about the data’. Yet marketers felt that one of the most important steps toward increased cross-channel engagement was to have access to all of the channel performance data.
Without it, they would not be able to measure performance and improve.
Train up marketers so they can integrate systems
Another thing which brands need to do for cross-channel marketing is to ensure that their team knows how to use the technology they already have.
Participants indicated that there is a particularly big knowledge gap between what marketers are familiar with today and what is necessary to map the customer journey.
Take a unified approach to offline and online marketing
Finally, the brand needs to have a unified approach to its messaging, both online and offline.
As one delegate said, there is little point advertising to change perception of the brand on one medium and then not to be able to deliver that experience on the other.
3. Marketing and ad technologies will converge
Predicted for some time now, it seems that combining marketing automation with ad buying may finally happen in 2017. Benefits of doing so include being able to leverage data between web, email, and ad platforms to improve performance and customer experience.
At Digital Cream Singapore, attendees said that there are three things marketers needed before marketing and advertising could be fully integrated.
A cross-market ad buying strategy
For companies with marketing teams across geographies, marketers need to centralise ad spending before they integrate marketing.
This is particularly difficult in Asia-Pacific and as such many brands in the region are relying solely on the ‘ad duopoly’, Google and Facebook, for their advertising.
A single view of the customer
Most marketing teams now typically have data spread across many systems. So in order to merge marketing and advertising, they need to combine data to have a single, cross-organisational view of the customer.
Doing so will make it much easier to share attributes, interests, and behaviours between ad and marketing automation platforms.
An attribution model
Finally, in order to have one technology stack, marketers felt that they need to agree on how to attribute credit for conversions for each step of the customer journey.
Doing so is much more difficult than it sounds, so many marketers end up using last click or a ‘fluid’ attribution model which is changed periodically based on data.
It seems, therefore, that there are quite a few precursors required for these predictions to come true. One common requirement, though, is the need for a common data platform so that marketers can share data among themselves as well as with the organisation as a whole.
Breaking down data siloes should, therefore, be on everyone’s wish list in 2017!