tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/marketing-automation Latest Marketing Automation content from Econsultancy 2017-01-20T01:00:00+00:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68702 2017-01-20T01:00:00+00:00 2017-01-20T01:00:00+00:00 Three bold marketing technology predictions for 2017 Jeff Rajeck <p>Econsultancy has <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68648-five-predictions-for-conversion-rate-optimisation-cro-in-2017/">several posts</a> which make <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68661-five-trends-which-will-define-data-driven-marketing-in-2017/">bold statements</a> 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.</p> <p>In the brief video, Antonia Edmunds from IBM Marketing Cloud offers her views on what marketers should expect in the coming year.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0xm2T518_eU?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>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.</p> <p>Below are summaries of each of the points and links to further reading on the topics.</p> <h3>1. Cognitive marketing will give marketers better customer insights</h3> <p>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. <a href="https://martechtoday.com/now-entering-age-cognitive-marketing-169117">Industry experts feel</a> that there will soon be an 'explosion' in the number of marketing systems which use it, though.</p> <p>When <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68634-three-ways-brands-will-use-cognitive-marketing/">the topic was discussed at an Econsultancy event in Delhi</a>, participants came up with three ways in which cognitive marketing could be used to help them understand their customers better and improve their performance.</p> <h4>Segment audiences in new ways</h4> <p>Cognitive-based systems will be better at finding behavioural characteristics among people who appear to be very different.</p> <h4>Personalise content</h4> <p>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.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2369/delhi2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h4>Help customers make better decisions</h4> <p>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.</p> <h3>2. Marketers will shift from siloed channel strategies to cross-channel engagement</h3> <p>Marketers needed little prompting in 2016 to discuss their plans for how they were tackling the difficult task of delivering cross-channel marketing.</p> <p>At <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68307-three-things-marketers-must-do-to-deliver-a-brilliant-omnichannel-experience/">a recent event in Melbourne</a>, marketers came up with <strong>three main points about what it will take for brands to follow consumer behaviour and become truly omnichannel.</strong></p> <h4>Identify data sources and break down silos</h4> <p>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.</p> <p>Without it, they would not be able to measure performance and improve.</p> <h4>Train up marketers so they can integrate systems</h4> <p>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.  </p> <p>Participants indicated that <strong>there is a particularly big knowledge gap between what marketers are familiar with today and what is necessary to map the customer journey.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9329/j2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h4>Take a unified approach to offline and online marketing</h4> <p>Finally, the brand needs to have a unified approach to its messaging, both online and offline.  </p> <p>As one delegate said, <strong>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.</strong></p> <h3>3. Marketing and ad technologies will converge</h3> <p>Predicted for some time now, it seems that combining <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65212-what-is-marketing-automation-and-why-do-you-need-it/">marketing automation</a> 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.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68665-three-keys-to-digital-advertising-success-in-2017/">At Digital Cream Singapore</a>, attendees said that there are <strong>three things marketers needed before marketing and advertising could be fully integrated.</strong></p> <h4>A cross-market ad buying strategy</h4> <p>For companies with marketing teams across geographies, marketers need to centralise ad spending before they integrate marketing.  </p> <p>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.</p> <h4>A single view of the customer</h4> <p>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.</p> <p>Doing so will make it much easier to share attributes, interests, and behaviours between ad and marketing automation platforms.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2648/5.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h4>An attribution model</h4> <p>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.</p> <p>Doing so is much more difficult than it sounds, so <strong>many marketers end up using last click or a 'fluid' attribution model which is changed periodically based on data.</strong></p> <p>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.  </p> <p>Breaking down data siloes should, therefore, be on everyone's wish list in 2017!</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68706 2017-01-17T10:00:01+00:00 2017-01-17T10:00:01+00:00 Ashley Friedlein's marketing and digital trends for 2017 Ashley Friedlein <p>You can <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67397-ashley-friedlein-s-10-digital-marketing-ecommerce-trends-for-2016/">read my 2016 post</a> to see whether I had any success in predicting the major trends from last year, and here are the trends that I think will have the biggest impact in 2017.</p> <h3>1. The F word </h3> <p>I believe the guiding star for marketing, and digital, for 2017 will be: Focus. </p> <p>In part, this is because the economic outlook is uncertain so there is less appetite for risk and instead a desire to focus on either fixing what is not working or doubling down on what is working and scaling that.</p> <p>Businesses want growth, brands want saliency in a cluttered landscape, but there is not the money to ‘throw a lot at the wall and see what sticks’ so focus has to be the answer. </p> <p>In part, it is also a reaction against the ever-increasing complexity and fragmentation within marketing. Both at the highest levels (What even is ‘marketing’ now? What is ‘digital’ really?) and at the tactical levels (Which new emerging platforms do we now also have to manage? Have we really nailed our responsive programmatic social video campaign? What are we doing about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67529-the-rise-of-dark-social-everything-you-need-to-know/">dark social</a> and messaging?). </p> <p>Focus is an antidote to ambiguity and complexity. In part, I think shareholders and boards are starting to lose patience with marketing and digital strategy and execution which lacks focus.</p> <p>There are only so many times you can say “for us digital is like changing the engines on the plane whilst still flying!” or cunningly pass off what is really indecision, lack of competence or lack of operational clarity as “agile”. </p> <p>In 2017 prioritisation is the top priority. Focus on the focus. So I expect to see:</p> <ul> <li>Brand portfolios being rationalised. This started in 2016 but I expect to continue this year. Weaker brands will be killed off so energies can be focused on the strongest. </li> <li>As well as cutting some brands completely we will see more ‘zero-based branding’ thinking (cf. “<a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/26/why-unilever-is-right-to-adopt-zero-based-budgeting/">zero-based budgeting</a>” from 2016) where marketers revisit a brand's purpose, promise, positioning and audience. Again, to ensure clarity of focus. </li> <li>Agency/supplier relationships being rationalised. Again, in the name of focus, I expect to see brands favouring fewer, deeper, supplier relationships. This will be a challenge for mid-sized agencies. I believe it will favour the big consultancies and systems integrators over the agencies too.</li> <li>Media partners being rationalised. There will be less appetite for continual experimentation and fragmented efforts. Rather marketers will want to do better what is already shown to work. In the digital space this is good news for Google and Facebook in particular.  </li> </ul> <p>2017 will be more about refinement than reinvention for most marketers. More about consolidation, embedding and stratification than diversity and fragmentation. Time to get better at ‘operationalising’ marketing in a digital age.</p> <p>Take a cue from Google which has been busy cutting back projects to focus on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/">artificial intelligence</a>. In 2017 your hardest decisions will be about what <em>not</em> to do. </p> <h3>2. Macro trends impacting marketing in 2017</h3> <p>Following are some broader trends that are shaping marketing, and digital, through 2017 and beyond. </p> <h4>2.1 The democratisation of AI (artificial intelligence)</h4> <p>AI is <em>the</em> hot technology trend. But a bit like ‘big data’ I do not see it as a thing in isolation. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/marketing-in-the-age-of-artificial-intelligence/">AI will permeate all aspects of marketing</a> and beyond.</p> <p>From quite specific applications like AI-powered email subject line optimisation (like <a href="https://phrasee.co/">Phrasee</a>) through smart devices and right up to Samsung-acquired <a href="http://viv.ai/">Viv</a> the ‘global brain’ and ‘intelligent interface to everything’.  </p> <p>AI is already powerful: <a href="http://www.wired.co.uk/article/alphago-deepmind-google-wins-lee-sedol">Google’s Go-winning DeepMind technology</a>, Facebook’s <a href="https://research.fb.com/publications/deepface-closing-the-gap-to-human-level-performance-in-face-verification/">DeepFace</a> facial recognition is better than a human’s etc. But the exciting opportunity for us all is that AI is becoming democratised, becoming a utility, being made available as a service. </p> <p>In 2017 you should not ‘do AI’ but you should keep on top of how AI can help make smarter things that you are already doing and make sure your suppliers and vendors are using AI to improve their services to you. </p> <h4>2.2 Conversational interfaces</h4> <p>I could have gone with bots, chat, messaging, even the ‘conversation economy’. But let us focus on conversational interfaces for now.</p> <p>Messaging, bots and smart home devices, like Amazon’s Echo, are the main actors on the stage of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67767-will-conversational-marketing-become-a-reality-in-2016/">conversational UI</a>. This is an exciting area of development, possibly even a ‘<a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4502/banned_words.png">paradigm shift</a>’? </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KkOCeAtKHIc?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Conversational UIs can help remove friction in a process. Before long we will expect to say “Find me three of the best tents that sleep up to five people for under £300”, get a good answer, and then purchase, all by voice. Interfaces will have API access to marketplaces like eBay, Google Shopping, Amazon etc. </p> <p>From a brand point of view this conversational paradigm is also compelling. Perhaps we can have conversations like we used to with businesses and recapture some of the intimacy that technology to date has caused us to lose? Can conversational interfaces re-humanise technology? </p> <p>The big question for marketers and brands in 2017 is whether you choose to play directly in this space, by creating your own <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67894-what-are-chatbots-and-why-should-marketers-care/">chatbot</a> for example, or whether you figure out how best to integrate in the ecosystem of much larger players, e.g. building a ‘skill’ for Amazon’s Alexa platform <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/help/insideguardian/2016/sep/28/introducing-the-guardian-skill-for-alexa">like the Guardian</a>. </p> <h4>2.3 Realtime</h4> <p>Building on the conversational paradigm, we should also expect experiences to become more realtime.</p> <p>Whether that is messaging, live customer service, live location tracking or live video streaming, we can see expectations rising for experiences that are ‘in the moment’. Just recently Google updated its “Popular times and visit duration” information for destinations to include realtime information on how busy the place is. </p> <p>In 2017 and beyond we need to look at how we can deliver <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/customer-experience/">customer experiences</a> that are realtime which is a challenge across technology, people and process. </p> <h4>2.4 Google/Facebook duopoly unchallenged</h4> <p>I cannot see how Google and Facebook will not continue to gain momentum. This will be aided by the focus and consolidation I described earlier.</p> <p>For many marketers who need to get good at a few things that they know have scale and can work, it is much easier to concentrate on a few platforms than many. </p> <p>Over 2017 it will be interesting to see how the video wars play out between Google (YouTube) and Facebook and also the degree to which brands work more directly with Google and Facebook which threatens to relegate the importance of the agency relationship. </p> <h4>2.5 Consultancies and systems integrators steal share from agencies</h4> <p>Speaking of agency relationships... I fear agencies may increasingly lose out to the big consultancies in winning large <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital and marketing transformation</a> work.</p> <p>Creativity and media planning/buying may hold out best against the consultancy attack but, as media becomes more programmatically driven, it is access to (increasingly backend) data and smart business logic that is required.</p> <p>And ‘digital transformation’ is a lot about change management, business strategy, data architecture, process, systems integration, cultural transformation etc. This is home turf to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68570-consultancies-are-buying-agencies-what-does-it-mean-for-marketing/">consultancies who have also been aggressively acquiring</a> or hiring agency talent.   </p> <h4>2.6 Identity management and authentication</h4> <p>We know devices are proliferating, we know we want to deliver personalised experiences across channels, we know multichannel marketing and (re)targeting can work if well executed and we know we want to measure ROI in a properly attributed way across channels. But we also know the sensitivities around data control and privacy.</p> <p>At the root of these challenges is how, and if at all, we can reliably identify who someone is. And even if we can, what the legal and perception challenges are around what we then do with that knowledge.</p> <p>This is another reason for the rise and rise of Google and Facebook who can address these challenges at scale and whose users are pretty much logged in all the time wherever they go online. Not a luxury most of us have.  </p> <h4>2.7 Talent</h4> <p>Yes, there is still a war for that.</p> <h3>3. Marketing trends for 2017</h3> <p>And now the key trends in marketing. </p> <h4>3.1 Marketing transformation</h4> <p>The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68009-it-is-the-end-of-the-beginning-for-digital-but-is-it-the-beginning-of-the-end/">‘death of digital’ debate</a> rumbles on but certainly I have noticed brands talking not only about ‘digital transformation’ but also about ‘marketing transformation’.</p> <p>Usually the initial focus is a restructure of the marketing organisation, often with the (re)integration of digital marketing, and often with a new person at the top who is increasingly likely to be a CCO (Chief Customer Officer) rather than CMO. </p> <p><a href="http://theoystercatchers.com/">Oystercatchers</a> (a sister brand to Econsultancy and part of Centaur Media plc) note a trend towards clients bringing more marketing teams in house – maybe not permanently but building dream teams for specific tasks. </p> <p>Accompanying this internal transformation is a re-evaluation of supplier relationships, the likely outcome of which I address earlier, and zero-based budgeting has become more popular as another way to ‘reset the clock’. </p> <p>The area that I find most interesting is the idea of ‘marketing ops’: the operating system for marketing. This is one effective way of keeping focus but also dealing with complexity and delivering operational efficiency.</p> <p>Just as (enlightened) IT has ‘dev ops’ it makes absolute sense to me that marketing needs ‘marketing ops’. Marketing is adopting ‘agile’ from the world of technology (incorrectly in many cases, but still…) and could do well to adopt ‘ops’. </p> <p>If you want to get some insight into this emerging area of marketing I recommend you look at <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/MarTechConf/marketing-ops-is-a-philosophy-not-a-department-by-justin-dunham">this presentation on marketing ops by Justin Dunham</a> of Urban Airship.  </p> <h4>3.2 Customer experience still top of the agenda</h4> <p>Customer experience has been a hot topic for a few years now but it shows no sign of cooling in 2017. Every single piece of market research Econsultancy does into what topics marketers are prioritising, and indeed the equivalent data I have seen from other analysts, shows customer experience topping the charts. </p> <p>The drivers for this are partly just to meet customers’ rising expectations, i.e. improved experiences, particularly digital and multichannel ones, are something that you just have to do. Partly, of course, it is in an effort to improve ROI through better conversion and retention rates.  </p> <p>2017 will see more ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68681-mapping-the-customer-journey-doesn-t-have-to-be-difficult/">customer journey mapping</a>’, more defining of personas and further efforts at personalisation. And, according to Econsultancy’s recent <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/quarterly-digital-intelligence-briefing-the-cx-challenge/">Implementing a CX Strategy</a> research, it is the marketing function which is most likely to own CX within a business. Yet only 8% of companies view themselves as 'very advanced' in terms of customer experience maturity.</p> <p>Multichannel will remain a big focus for customer experience improvements. Amazon Go, which entirely automates the in-store experience using sensors and machine learning, shows what is possible when blending the digital and physical.</p> <p>Multichannel should not be about the distinction of physical and digital channels but about experience fulfilment: what works best for what experience and customer need.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NrmMk1Myrxc?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>In 2017 we will move away from channel execution to thinking more about touchpoints and brand (“omni-brand” anyone?) experience.</p> <p>Rarely is there a single linear customer journey; more usually customer journeys are pretzel-shaped. </p> <h4>3.3 Data lakes and data ops</h4> <p>The move towards brands taking greater, first-party, control of their data as a strategic asset will continue. Expect to hear more about ‘data lakes’ in 2017 and dedicated ‘data/analytics ops’ teams comprising data scientists, engineers and analysts.</p> <p>The focus will be on getting better access to the data that is already available and smarter reuse of analytics assets like algorithms and models. Perhaps this year more marketers will finally be able to get a universal view of cross-channel performance.  </p> <p>In 2017 we will also start to recognise the need to use data to market to machines. We already know the value of structuring our data properly through schematic language to enhance how we appear in search results. But as personal assistants and IoT (internet of things) devices increasingly intermediate between our offerings and our customers we will need to learn how to ‘teach’ these machines with data.</p> <h4>3.4 Measurement scrutiny</h4> <p>2016 saw a lot happening in the area of measurement, performance and metrics: <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/08/30/mark-ritson-mcdonalds-zero-margin-omnicom-deal-sets-welcome-precedents-for-agency-contracts/">McDonald’s zero-margin Omnicom deal</a> setting a new precedent for agency contracts; <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68332-should-marketers-be-more-concerned-about-facebook-s-video-metrics-faux-pas/">Facebook’s erroneous video metrics</a>; the <a href="http://www.ana.net/content/show/id/industry-initiative-media-transparency">ANA’s concerning report</a> into lack of transparency in media buying by agencies.</p> <p>As a result, there will be a lot of scrutiny from senior management around how marketing is being measured. Some may reach the nirvana promised by the aforementioned data lakes, assuming they can find the talent to realise them and harness their value, but for many this year’s focus will mean having fewer KPIs but being more rigorously held to account over those.</p> <p>Marketing attribution will still be challenging (less so for Google and Facebook): according to Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-state-of-marketing-attribution/">State of Marketing Attribution</a> research 76% of respondents are struggling to find the right staff to deal with attribution. </p> <h4>3.5 Rethinking segmentation and targeting</h4> <p>2016 saw a lot of debate around approaches to customer segmentation and targeting. How granular is too granular? Is ‘mass targeting’ the answer? How does programmatic work in the mix?</p> <p>In 2017 we need to focus on resolving this question. As ever, the answer will be ‘it depends’. It depends not just on your product and audience but on your business strategy e.g. if you are going after market share at any cost versus focusing on profits and margins. </p> <p>Approaches to targeting are interesting in as far as they expose the sometimes differing philosophies and approaches of ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ marketing. The former typically has a higher degree of planning and research up front and the segmentation and targeting models often built on more prescribed geo-demographic data attributes. </p> <p>Digital, meanwhile, espouses a ‘test and learn’ approach to validate hypotheses, starting small and scaling what works, and using technology and data to optimise for successful outcomes.</p> <p>For example, using programmatic advertising to optimise for sales using lookalike targeting which may not care what geo-demographic segment a prospect belongs to.</p> <p>Digital focuses on assessing potential customer value based on realtime, dynamic and contextual data variables which might include the weather right now, your precise location right now, what device you are using, what transport you are currently in, what you have just searched for, just clicked on etc.</p> <p>This year, as part of our marketing transformation (see earlier), we need to resolve these tensions between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’. This will play out in organisational design but also in our processes, culture and capability development.  </p> <h3>4. Digital marketing trends for 2017</h3> <p>There is an increasingly blurred line between ‘digital marketing’ and ‘marketing’ but the following trends focus on the digital elements of marketing.</p> <h4>4.1 Digital Transformation</h4> <p>Econsultancy’s recent research on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-new-marketing-reality/">The New Marketing Reality</a> with IBM highlights the many challenges facing digital marketing:</p> <ul> <li>fragmentation and complexity.</li> <li>challenges in understanding the customer journey.</li> <li>challenges with organisational and data silos.</li> <li>confusion around metrics and what good looks like.</li> <li>managing both generalist and specialist agencies and vendors at the same time.</li> <li>lack of capability in areas like data and customer experience.</li> <li>lack of clarity in strategy and leadership. </li> </ul> <p>There is nothing particularly new here and there will not be for 2017. The challenges in becoming a digitally adept and mature organisation are many and will take years to work through.</p> <p>2017 will continue to see a mix of initiatives which, on the one hand, deliberately create ‘elite’ digital units (McKinsey talk about ‘<a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/agile-marketing-a-step-by-step-guide">war-room teams</a>’) in an attempt to move at speed and, on the other hand, attempts to integrate and unify ‘digital’ and ‘traditional’ within a single marketing function. In practice most organisations will do both at the same time.</p> <p>Digital will also need better ‘ops’ (see the earlier section on marketing transformation), particularly in the area of data. Ops can help corral disjointed data and wrangle the complexity of channel silos.</p> <p>Digital will also be in the vanguard as organisations seek to become more agile and better at <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68503-what-is-design-thinking/">design thinking</a>, customer experience optimisation and product management. </p> <p>Non-Executive Directors with digital expertise will stay in great demand. There will be more Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) but the rate of growth in this job title may have peaked. </p> <h4>4.2 Data and marketing automation</h4> <p>2016 was a big year for marketing automation. Martech outshone adtech. Companies like Oracle, Adobe and IBM went on a spending spree to acquire capabilities to bolster their martech offerings across areas including programmatic, personalisation, video and social.</p> <p>Last year also saw a lot of talk about using data to optimise marketing including customer insight, personalisation, automation, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/">conversion rate optimisation</a>, multichannel, and predictive analytics. </p> <p>2017 will primarily be about putting these things into action. For most, ‘marketing automation’ is, initially, just better <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census/">email marketing</a>. Improved customer onboarding, retention or renewal sequences, more refined trigger-driven messaging, more personalisation, introducing lead scoring and lead nurturing.</p> <p>This practice is then extended into other channels as data becomes more joined up and the ‘direct marketing’ of email becomes joined to the ‘above the line’ of advertising with programmatic media. </p> <h4>4.3 Artificial intelligence </h4> <p>Earlier I noted that AI will permeate all areas of marketing so is not a discipline in itself. But it will be the digital experts within the marketing function who will be expected to take the lead in how AI is adopted by organisations.</p> <p>Indeed, Econsultancy researched our subscribers to ask who is responsible for defining the role of AI-powered marketing within their organisations and 61% stated it was the marketing function.</p> <p>The applications of AI in marketing for 2017 sit most obviously in the digital marketing disciplines: AI for content curation (e.g. smart recommendations); AI for customer service (particularly digital/social service); AI for content generation (e.g. email copy or video content); AI for sentiment analysis (e.g. social listening); AI for CRM (e.g. smarter loyalty or sales insights); AI for intelligent digital advertising optimisation; AI to power chatbots (e.g. for assistance in finding products or content). </p> <h4>4.4 Content marketing</h4> <p>As per <a href="http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp">Gartner’s Hype Cycle</a>, 2017 sees content marketing moving through the slope of enlightenment and entering its plateau of productivity. There will be more focus on understanding return on investment, more refined approaches based on learnings to date, more focus on scaling the things that are working, more clarity on roles and capabilities.  </p> <p><em>Gartner's Hype Cycle</em></p> <p><em><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3103/Gartner_hype_cycle.png" alt="" width="589" height="411"></em></p> <p>Scott Brinker has an interesting view on what he terms the <a href="http://marketingland.com/4th-wave-content-marketing-marketing-apps-84108">4th Wave of Content Marketing</a> and I agree that 2017 will see more focus on interactive experiences beyond static content or even rich content like video.  </p> <p>Video, as a form of content, will still be an active area of experimentation during 2017: vertical video, shorter and longer form video, video captioning and optimisation for stream viewing, live streaming, social video ads etc. </p> <h4>4.5 Social</h4> <p>“Social” is a very broad term these days. Plenty of activity to expect in 2017 across social:</p> <p><strong>Social care</strong> – deeper integration of social channels into customer service and care.</p> <p><strong>Social CRM</strong> – similarly to customer care, social data and touchpoints will become more closely integrated with backend CRM systems. </p> <p><strong>Dark social and messaging</strong> – more <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68695-how-brands-are-using-whatsapp-for-marketing/">brands running private social groups</a>, experiments with chatbots, greater usage of messaging as a medium both internally (e.g. Slack) and externally through integrations with Facebook Messenger or trials with WhatsApp groups and, for B2B, setting up messaging groups on LinkedIn. </p> <p><strong>Emerging platforms</strong> – social is at the forefront of experimentation with emerging platforms and formats. Last year it was Meerkat and Pinterest; this year I expect we will see more activity around Snap, Instagram and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67490-10-things-you-didn-t-know-about-wechat/">WeChat</a> (even in the West). </p> <p><strong>Social answering</strong> – I have not yet come up with a name I am happy with for this... but essentially it is about listening for relevant conversations, or questions, taking place online and then participating and answering in order to drive awareness, traffic and search rankings.</p> <p>In B2B this might be answering, or commenting on, content posted to LinkedIn; if you were targeting developers you would do this but on Stack Overflow; Quora, among others, has become a much bigger driver of traffic so it is worth answering relevant questions there. </p> <p><strong>Social amplification</strong> – thankfully there is less talk of ‘going viral’ as relates to social. But 2017 should see efforts in understanding how to use social to distribute, augment and amplify content and messaging.</p> <p>There is a skillset to optimising this: the best practitioners know how to orchestrate social channels to maximise amplification. In its simplest form this is about choreographing how, and when, content is published. Enterprise social management software now allows for more sophisticated scheduling and provides the analytical insights to optimise it.  </p> <p><strong>Influencer marketing</strong> – this is not just about ‘social’, of course, but 2017 will see continued efforts to identify and understand who the ‘new influencers’ might be for your brand and then engage with them, socially, commercially and through PR. </p> <p><strong>Social media advertising</strong> – driven largely by the emerging platforms as well as increasing experimentation by more traditional media owners, 2017 will offer a whole range of new ad formats, experiences and commercial models for agencies and their clients to experiment with. </p> <h3>5. Hot topics but still not significant in marketing for 2017</h3> <p>Our own Econsultancy research says that marketers are excited about VR, AR and IoT for 2017.</p> <p>So perhaps I will get some criticism for having the temerity to suggest these are not likely to form a significant part of an average marketer’s job this year. Unless you work for GAFA (Google Apple Facebook Amazon) that is. </p> <p>My thoughts on some of these topics:</p> <p><strong>AR (augmented reality)</strong> – sure <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68059-should-pokemon-go-give-marketers-hope-for-augmented-reality/">Pokémon Go was a great use of AR</a> but most of us are not gaming businesses. AR has many great applications but it still does not feel like it will go mainstream for marketers in 2017.</p> <p>That said, the iPhone 8 release this year could change that with ‘mixed reality’ getting a big boost. </p> <p><strong>VR (virtual reality)</strong> - there is huge hype and investment around VR including from GAFAM (I have added <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68442-microsoft-s-hololens-a-review-of-the-mixed-reality-headset/">Microsoft because of HoloLens</a>) so it should go large some time. But this year?</p> <p>The hardware requirements are still too onerous, the tech and apps too fragmented, the use cases mostly gaming or too niche, for most marketers to spend much time focusing on VR this year. As with AR, VR’s adoption could be turbocharged by the iPhone 8 release this year. </p> <p><strong>IoT (Internet of Things)</strong> – there are some fantastic examples of successful IoT services, a lot in B2B, and this will only grow. But I am less convinced there is an obvious opportunity for marketers yet.</p> <p>As more products and things become connected, however, there is a really interesting customer-product relationship marketing opportunity. We should see more early examples of that this year.  </p> <p><strong>Wearables</strong> – I am still not convinced there are enough use cases for most marketers to get excited about the wearables opportunity.</p> <p><strong>3D Printing</strong> – <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2014/08/14/3d-printing-whats-in-it-for-marketers/">I wrote about 3D printing</a> almost three years ago. The technology has improved, of course, but I’m still not clear how this is particularly relevant for marketers?</p> <p><strong>Blockchain</strong> – <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68693-the-importance-of-the-blockchain-the-second-generation-of-the-internet/">important, exciting, disruptive</a>, but not clear to me how marketing can <a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4502/banned_words.png">leverage</a> this, unless perhaps for identity management and authentication.  </p> <p><strong>Beacons</strong> – still not doing it for me.</p> <p>But what do you think? Feel free to post any thoughts or links to your own digital/marketing trends and predictions for 2017. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68654 2016-12-21T00:01:00+00:00 2016-12-21T00:01:00+00:00 Five steps toward marketing automation excellence Jeff Rajeck <p>Yet many of those who have implemented marketing automation are struggling to use it to improve overall marketing performance.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/state-of-digital-marketing-in-australia-and-new-zealand/">recent Econsultancy survey,</a> <strong>less than 5% of marketers in Australia and New Zealand consider their automated email campaigns 'very successful'.  </strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2548/2.png" alt="" width="800" height="553"></p> <p>Additionally, <strong>more than 90% considered their marketing automation capabilities as 'basic' at best.</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2549/1.png" alt="" width="800" height="506"></strong></p> <p>So, what is the problem? What do marketers need to do to get out of the 'basic zone' and deliver marketing automation excellence?</p> <p>To find out, we spoke to dozens of marketers at our recent Digital Cream Sydney about how they overcome the issues they faced when implementing marketing automation.</p> <h3>Background</h3> <p>Delegates agreed that marketing automation has an aura of being a 'magical tool' which will help marketers deliver the right message on the right platform.</p> <p>Implementation, however, often leads to disappointment. Initial projections were rarely met, and many felt that their original goals for marketing automation were 'drifting'.</p> <p>On the whole, participants said that they were still 'pursuing the dream', but many have become more realistic about their marketing automation ambitions. Instead of expecting marketing automation to be a 'silver bullet', they are following several steps which, they believe, achieve more realistic incremental goals.</p> <p>Below are the five steps which attendees agreed are leading them toward 'marketing automation excellence'.</p> <h3>1) Start with a basic marketing automation programme</h3> <p>A rookie mistake of implementing marketing automation, according to participants, is to first choose a marketing automation solution and then try to figure out how to use it.</p> <p>In these cases, a company signs up with a provider and dutifully links up the customer database, the email engine, and the website. Once everything is up and running, however, marketers realise that the programme does not have a clear goal and enthusiasm for the project quickly wanes.</p> <p>A better approach, according to delegates, is to review existing marketing strategies and pick one or two activities with well-known outcomes and work on a way to automate the tasks.</p> <p>For example, an ecommerce company may have data which shows that encouraging customers to return to the site every 3 months reduces churn and increases revenue.</p> <p>In this case, a marketing automation programme might just ensure that each customer is emailed relatively frequently for three months following a purchase. No new technology may be required at all.</p> <p>In time, marketers may use solutions to make these emails more sophisticated, but before investing in marketing automation technology, according to participants, they should first successfully launch a basic programme.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2552/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>2) Identify data sources</h3> <p>For even the simplest marketing automation programme, marketers rely on data. It may be as simple as the date of the last purchase or as sophisticated as customer behavioural data, but marketers need to have access to customer information for automation to be successful.</p> <p>Attendees felt, however, that accessing customer information was a significant roadblock as the data is often spread out throughout the organisations.</p> <p>In our recent survey of marketers in Australia and New Zealand, many in the region agree. When asked to identify the biggest barriers to implementing automation 'integrating data' was the most popular response from the client side.  </p> <p>No single solution to the problem was provided on the day, but participants acknowledged that obtaining and integrating data sources was an issue that everyone faced on the way to a successful marketing automation programme.</p> <h3>3) Implement data governance</h3> <p>While identifying data sources is an essential first step, marketers also need a strategy for how they are going to source data on an ongoing basis.</p> <p>Initially, the data required by the programme may be relatively easy to obtain, but participants indicated that marketers will eventually have to work with departments who may be reluctant to share their data.</p> <p>Several attendees said that having a written data governance policy makes obtaining data from other departments much easier.</p> <p>Such a policy should let other people in the organisation know how you intend to use the data and your strategy for maintaining data integrity and keeping sensitive information secure.</p> <p>One participant indicated that appointing someone as the 'data steward' to deal with policy and inquiries helped a great deal with internal data acquisition.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2553/1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>4) Have clear success metrics from the start</h3> <p>Participants also agreed that even the most basic marketing automation programme should deliver results which demonstrates the value of the programme to the business.</p> <p>In order to make this happen, marketers need to be clear from the start about what metric they are trying to improve.</p> <p>If the purpose of marketing automation is to increase web traffic, noted one attendee, then marketers should not include email open rates in the performance report.</p> <p>For those marketers whose sponsors only look at top-line figures, they should ensure that the success metrics are focused on how marketing automation is increasing revenue.</p> <p>Without agreeing on what constitutes success from the start, marketing automation, like any programme, will be at risk of drifting from its original goals and losing sponsorship in the process.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2554/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>5) Always look for opportunities to expand the programme</h3> <p>The final step toward marketing automation excellence is that marketers must learn from the initial programmes and be on the lookout for other ways to use automation.</p> <p>Those who successfully implement an initiative which provides relevant offers based on purchases may look to do the same with content. Or, if web activity and email have been automated, marketers can also look at ways to deliver more relevant content to their audience via social media.</p> <p>Regardless of the results they have had with it so far, participants agreed that marketing automation was still worth pursuing and that it will be a significant part of their agenda in 2017.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and especially the moderator at the marketing automation table, <strong>Steffen Daleng, General Manager - Digital, The Co-op Bookstore.</strong></p> <p>We hope to see you all at future Sydney Econsultancy events!</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2555/4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68634 2016-12-13T01:00:00+00:00 2016-12-13T01:00:00+00:00 Three ways brands will use cognitive marketing Jeff Rajeck <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2367/machine_learning.png" alt="" width="800" height="365"></p> <p>These same forces are also being used in marketing. AI, or 'cognitive', marketing systems use industrial computing power, big data, and machine learning to improve marketing performance. </p> <p>While cognitive marketing has not yet been deployed to a great extent, it soon will be. According to IDC, <a href="https://martechtoday.com/now-entering-age-cognitive-marketing-169117">more than half of all companies will be using cognitive marketing by 2020</a>.</p> <p>So, what exactly is cognitive marketing and how will brands use it?</p> <p>To find out, Econsultancy, in association with <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson/marketing/">IBM Watson Marketing</a>, recently held roundtable discussions in Delhi. There, senior client-side marketers discussed the impact of cognitive marketing on brand messaging and how they see the technology developing.  </p> <p>Below is a summary of the three main ways marketers on the day plan to use cognitive marketing.</p> <h3>1. Segment audiences in new ways</h3> <p>Segmenting audiences is a key part of providing relevant messaging to consumers. Participants noted that most marketers use demographics to segment their audience into groups with similar wants and needs.</p> <p>In contrast, cognitive marketing systems search massive data sets from a wide variety of sources, such as web analytics, social media, and purchasing behaviour, to find customer segments which exhibit similar behaviour.</p> <p>In some cases these segments may resemble traditional demographic groups, but in others <strong>cognitive marketing may find common behavioural characteristics among people who appear to be very different.</strong></p> <p>What this means for marketers, according to attendees, is that <strong>cognitive marketing will transform the customer list into a database where each member is connected to others in many different ways</strong>. The result is that one customer will be part of countless segments depending on their observed behaviour.</p> <p>So, a woman aged 34 would no longer be simply considered as 'female, 30-35' but, instead, she would be a 'fashion lover' who 'takes three months to buy', 'travels to Bangalore twice a week', and 'tends to open emails on Tuesday'. </p> <p>Without using cognitive marketing, one participant noted, these sorts of segments would be nearly impossible to build, manage, and use effectively.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2368/delhi3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>2. Personalise content</h3> <p>With these behavioural segments, marketers can use cognitive marketing systems to personalise content more effectively than ever before.</p> <p>After receiving core content, <strong>a cognitive marketing engine could redesign the messaging so that virtually every person saw something different</strong>. Participants envisioned that the system would use data from social media, browsing behaviour, and even sentiment from customer service communications to reformat content for an individual.</p> <p>Attendees offered a couple of reasons why brands will use this approach. First off, <strong>cognitive marketing would ensure that the brand message was delivered in the right way at the right time for each customer.</strong> Long-form, engaging content could be sent when you know a customer is at home and shorter, easy-to-consume messaging would appear when they are commuting, for example.</p> <p><strong>Personalisation would also ensure that brands avoid delivering irrelevant messages and risk being 'tuned out' by the customer.</strong> Put another way, one marketer said, 'you have five seconds to get their attention with something relevant, otherwise you are done'.</p> <p>Following the event, Antonia Edmunds, business leader at <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson/marketing/">IBM Watson Marketing</a>, had a few more words to say on this topic:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/M_VeJapDEsU?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <h3>3. Help customers make better decisions</h3> <p>Delivering a personalised message at the right time benefits the brand for the reasons mentioned above, but delegates noted that<strong> cognitive marketing will also help the customer make better decisions.</strong></p> <p>As cognitive marketing can make inferences using data from a wide variety of sources,<strong> it can also help brands identify customers who have a particular unstated need</strong>, said one attendee.  This will allow the brand to deliver personalised offers and guidance. </p> <p>For example, if someone is price sensitive at the moment, they could be told about a lower-priced product range. If they are time poor, the brand could let them know about a new convenience. And if they are in the middle of a major life event, say moving or getting married, the brand could offer to help them with the process.</p> <p>In this way, according to participants, <strong>cognitive marketing will help companies start conversations with consumers around topics which matter to them</strong> and not just around what the brand wants to say about itself.  </p> <p>This, in turn, will demonstrate that the brand anticipates a consumer's wants and needs and, ideally, make it easier for them to choose the brand above all others.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2369/delhi2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>A word of thanks...</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and our table leaders: </p> <ul> <li>Antonia Edmunds, Business Leader - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Gowri Arun, GBS Marketing Leader - IBM India/South Asia.</li> <li>Joseph Sundar, Business Development Executive, ISA/ASEAN - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Harsh Anand, CSP Leader - IBM Commerce. </li> </ul> <p>We hope to see you all at future Delhi Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2373/delhi4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68609 2016-12-08T01:30:00+00:00 2016-12-08T01:30:00+00:00 Four things to consider before marketing on a new digital channel Jeff Rajeck <p>The same study also shows that <strong>these new consumer behaviours are good for brands which can keep up.</strong>  </p> <p>As the percentage of sales that a brand makes online increases, the more likely it is that a consumer will select the brand at some point in the purchase funnel. <strong><br></strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2149/Picture1.png" alt="" width="570" height="444"></p> <p>Because of this, marketers should always be on the lookout for new digital channels. With new ones appearing regularly, however, knowing which ones to use can be difficult. </p> <p>To find out how professional marketers decide whether to use a new digital channel, Econsultancy in association with <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson/marketing/">IBM Cognitive Engagement: Watson Marketing</a> recently held roundtable discussions in Delhi.</p> <p>There, senior client-side marketers discussed how they launch on digital channels to improve customer engagement, acquisition, and loyalty.</p> <p>Below are four questions which attendees indicated that they ask when launching on a new digital channel.</p> <h3>1. What is the objective of using the new channel?</h3> <p>The first thing delegates consider when reviewing a new digital channel is their objective. That is, what are they trying to accomplish?</p> <p>To answer this, they look at what part of the buying cycle they are trying to influence and ask whether or not the channel is appropriate. For example: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Awareness:</strong> Is this where people interested in our brand spend their time?</li> <li> <strong>Research: </strong>Do potential customers look for information here? If so, can we tell them what they want to know?</li> <li> <strong>Interest: </strong>Will we be able to draw them away from the platform to tell our brand story?</li> <li> <strong>Conversion:</strong> Will they be in the right mindset to buy when they are in this channel?</li> <li> <strong>Advocacy: </strong>Does the platform allow us to engage with customers one-on-one at scale? </li> </ul> <p>Different platforms will suit different purposes. Highly visual networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat, tend to perform better at the top of the funnel.  </p> <p>Special-topic sites such as a blog are more suitable for the middle and conversion. Messaging platforms are best for ongoing engagement.</p> <p>Marketers should, therefore, understand where a channel fits in the customer journey before committing resources and budget to develop their presence on it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2152/1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>2. Is it possible to segment audiences on the channel?</h3> <p>In <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/quarterly-digital-intelligence-briefing-2016-digital-trends">Econsultancy's latest Digital Trends report</a>, 'targeting and personalization' was seen as one of the three top priorities for organisations in 2016.</p> <p>Marketers in Delhi agreed. Participants noted that whenever they look at new digital channels, <strong>they consider whether they are able to segment and target audiences on the platform.</strong></p> <p>The reason is that in order to increase engagement with the brand, content must be personalised to some extent. And to personalise, marketers need to be able to segment.</p> <p>Ideally, marketers would be able to segment using demographics, interests and behaviour, but at least one option must be available.</p> <p>While this is not a problem with established channels like Google and Facebook, many marketers have voiced frustrations with difficulty in doing so with Snapchat and Pinterest.</p> <p>Interestingly, both <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/%20http:/www.adweek.com/socialtimes/snap-audience-match-snapchat-lifestyle-categories-lookalikes/644849">Snapchat</a> and <a href="https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/new-targeting-tools-make-pinterest-ads-even-more-effective">Pinterest</a> have recently announced that audience targeting will be available.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2153/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>3. Does the channel provide attribution data?</h3> <p>Another issue which marketers face when using new platforms is that they need to know whether it is effective in driving new business.  </p> <p>The way this is typically done is through a 'referrer source' tag which is picked up by web analytics platforms and recorded along with page views and conversions. </p> <p>While nearly all established digital channels provide this tag, many new platforms do not.  </p> <p>Out of eight messaging platforms commonly used in Asia-Pacific, <strong>only Facebook Messenger and Twitter DMs provide 'referrer source' and the rest are considered <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67529-the-rise-of-dark-social-everything-you-need-to-know/">'dark social'</a>.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8441/dark_social_messaging_apps.png" alt="" width="607" height="471"></p> <p>The only alternative in these cases is for marketers to tag links they post on the platforms themselves. This is not easy to do and makes analytics even more difficult.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2154/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>4. Can we use marketing automation on the channel?</h3> <p>Attendees asserted that <strong>marketing automation reduces marketing costs and increases conversions.</strong> Because of this, marketers should consider to what extent new channels support automation initiatives.</p> <p>Again, this was not really an issue when using established search and social platforms as they offer APIs, ad bidding automation, and even automated customer service.</p> <p>Newer platforms, however, require that marketers post content manually making it even more difficult to send the right message to the right person at the right time. </p> <p>Participants agreed, though, that in order to reach their customers it was worth putting efforts into new channels such as chat platforms even without automation. Many felt that, in time, these platforms will support integration and allow marketers to use them more effectively.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and our table leaders: </p> <ul> <li>Antonia Edmunds, Business Leader - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Gowri Arun, GBS Marketing Leader - IBM India/South Asia.</li> <li>Joseph Sundar, Business Development Executive, ISA/ASEAN - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Harsh Anand, CSP Leader - IBM Commerce.</li> </ul> <p>We hope to see you all at future Delhi Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2155/4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68532 2016-11-22T13:30:00+00:00 2016-11-22T13:30:00+00:00 The case for chatbots being the new apps - notes from #WebSummit2016 Seán Donnelly <p>I counted 23 bot related companies exhibiting at the early stage (Alpha) area at Web Summit last week.</p> <p>These included bots for different kinds of services as well as bot building platforms. A year ago, this area might have been taken up by start-ups working on mobile apps.</p> <p>Is this a clear sign that bots are about to move beyond the nascent stage? Perhaps.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1501/web_summit_bot_start_ups-blog-flyer.png" alt="Start Ups exhibiting at Web Summit 2016" width="470" height="364"></p> <h3>What is a bot?</h3> <p>We’re actually a lot more familiar with bots than we might realise. Think of Apple’s Siri or Microsoft Cortana. They’ve been around for a while but until recently, haven’t really gained traction for various reasons.</p> <p>Search engines may be considered as a type of bot. A user types in a command or request in the form of a search query and the search engine returns a number of results based on that query. </p> <p>Or let’s go even further, remember Microsoft’s paper clip virtual assistant? That was discontinued years ago but bots have been taking off again recently as advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence make them more accessible and versatile than before.</p> <p>In terms of the more recent bot experiences, brands are starting to use them for more personal, proactive and streamlined interactions with people. In this sense, a bot is just a new type of user interface.</p> <p>According to Ted Livingston, CEO and founder of messaging app Kik, speaking on the digital marketing stage at Web Summit, "people think bots are about chatting. They're just a better way to deliver software. It's just a user interface.”</p> <p>Chatbots are just automated computer programs that can simulate conversation with people to perform tasks or answer questions. </p> <h3>How sophisticated are bots?</h3> <p>There is a scale of complexity when it comes to bots. At the most sophisticated level, a bot is an artificially intelligent creation capable of understanding complex interactions.</p> <p>At the lower end of the spectrum, a bot is just a simple interface that can respond to a limited number of pre-programmed commands.</p> <p>For an idea of how basic bots can be, there is a plethora of basic bot-building platforms online. I created Seanbot at robots.me. It’s not going to do my work for me anytime soon. </p> <p>As basic as some bots may seem, Kik’s Livingston says “calling bots basic today is a bit like calling websites basic 20 years ago”. We’re going to see bot sophistication increase far more quickly than we did for website functionality. </p> <h3>Why are bots getting popular so quickly?</h3> <p>According to Ted Livingston, one answer might be the growth and use of messaging platforms which is providing some of the infrastructure for delivering bot interfaces.</p> <p>Back in April 2016, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67799-facebook-s-f8-updates-mark-shift-from-screens-to-experiences/">Facebook opened up its Messenger platform</a> to developers at its F8 developer conference. That means that brands that want to reach people on mobile can build bots to share weather updates, order pizza, confirm flight reservations or send receipts after a purchase. </p> <p>For example, Mark Zuckerberg presented the use case of ordering flowers by chatting with the 1-800-Flowers.com bot, ironically bypassing dialling the telephone. As of July 2016, there were more than 11,000 bots on the Facebook Messenger platform. </p> <p>Also in April, Kik launched its own bot store, which according to Livingston, has already attracted more than 20,000 bots.</p> <p>He told users at Web Summit that in China there are more bots launched on TenCent’s WeChat every day than websites added to the Internet. In other words, according to Livingston, “WeChat is the Internet” in China. </p> <p><em>Kik bot store</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1502/kik_bot_store-blog-flyer.png" alt="Kik Bot Shop Interface" width="470" height="193"></p> <p>Google revealed its chatbot strategy in May. Unlike M, the virtual assistant in Facebook’s Messenger, the Google Assistant will respond to voice queries and not just text input.</p> <p>Microsoft also has its own open source bot builder. Unlike Messenger and Kik bots, these bots can be deployed on other platforms.</p> <p>Amazon has also opened up its bot building platform, Echo, to developers since 2015.</p> <h3>What do bots mean for the future of apps?</h3> <p>Chatbots can be delivered via website interfaces for managing basic customer service queries.</p> <p>There could be a time though when instead of visiting an ecommerce site, we simply message the relevant stores bot on Facebook Messenger which would ask us what we are looking for and we simply tell it. </p> <p>If we think about mobile apps, there are a number of reasons why bots may in fact be the new app.</p> <h3>Why might bots succeed apps?</h3> <p><strong>1. Difficulty getting cut through on mobile app stores</strong></p> <p>If we examine mobile, according to Livingston, three quarters of American smartphone users download zero apps per month. Also, research suggests that users only use 3–4 apps on a regular basis. </p> <p>Getting cut through in the app store and then retaining users is also incredibly difficult. Bots on the other hand are available via some of the most popular messaging apps and so can provide a new way to manage frictionless interactions with consumers. </p> <p>Livingston says that if you can create a great bot experience, that experience can spread virally.</p> <p>"The problem with the app store is that they (apps) can't go viral. The top 50 apps take up the majority of downloads. Bots make it easy for experiences to go viral via mentions which allow bots to be put into conversations”.</p> <p>He gave the example of a fun chatbot Kik built called Roll that went from 0 to half a million users in 30 days.</p> <p>95% of the user base came by being shared peer to peer. It now has 1 million users.</p> <p><strong>2. Ubiquity of messaging apps</strong></p> <p>Considering the incredible growth in the number of bots available via Messenger, Kik, WeChat and other platforms, then according to Livingston "if you are a developer at this point and you are still building an app, you are crazy”. </p> <ul> <li>WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is the most popular messenger app in the world with 1bn monthly active users (Source: Statista).  </li> <li>Facebook Messenger takes second place with over 900m monthly active users (MAUs). This number has been consistently growing since 2014 when it had 200m MAUs.</li> <li>Chinese company Tencent’s instant messenger QQ isn’t far behind with about 880 MAUs (ChinaInternetWatch).</li> <li>Tencent’s WeChat is also on the list with 806 million monthly active users as of October 2016 (Statista). </li> </ul> <p>Further, the number of mobile messaging app users is forecast to nearly double between 2014 and 2019 (Statista). That means a projected total of 2.19bn people using mobile messaging apps by 2019.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1503/900_million_people_using_facebook_messenger-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="260"></p> <p><strong>3. There is less friction using a bot than installing an app</strong></p> <p>To make user of a bot, a user just needs to search for the bot within their preferred messaging app and start “chatting”. Because you are interacting via your installed messaging app, the bot will have access to your identity.</p> <p>This contrasts with searching for an app, installing and creating an account. This may be problematic if you are outside a wifi zone and don’t want to use data to download the app.</p> <p>I tried using 1800 Flowers this morning. While I didn’t actually order anything, connecting with the bot and starting the interaction was quite easy.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1505/1800_flowers-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="275"></p> <p><strong>4. Bots may be better options for businesses that don’t have an immediate business case for an app</strong></p> <p>Users can add a bot to their contact list rather than downloading an app.</p> <p>What this means is that small businesses or companies that don’t have a clear use case for downloading and keeping an app on your phone may benefit from a bot instead.  </p> <p>Think of hotels or your local hairdresser / barber. To spend the time, effort and money to build an app for these services wouldn’t be worth it but there may be a long tail in having them in your contact list to make bookings etc. </p> <p><strong>5. Bots don't use up valuable memory on users smartphones.</strong></p> <p>Enough said.</p> <h3>Use case - how KLM is starting to use bots for customer service</h3> <p>At Econsultancy’s Festival of Marketing 2016, KLM’s Social Media Manager Karlijn Vogel-Meijer discussed the airline’s approach to customer service via social media. </p> <p>KLM has been a poster child for using social media as a customer service tool. Karlijn told FoM attendees that KLM has 235 agents dealing with social mentions around the world, 24/7.  </p> <p>To put it into context, the KLM team responds to 15,000 social mentions per week in 12 different languages.</p> <p>They used to have a 60 minute promised response time but in reality, most customer don’t want to wait that long. These interactions are managed manually but the volume of interactions is increasing year on year. </p> <p>For this reason, KLM is exploring AI and bots to help reduce the strain, whilst working to maintain a human feel.</p> <p>KLM added in a Facebook Messenger chatbot in March. Since its launch, it is receiving 5 questions per hour via Messenger. This number can increase to 13 in a peak hour.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1504/klm_social_mentions-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="KLM’s Social Media Manager Karlijn Vogel-Meijer speaking at FoM 2016" width="470" height="368"> </p> <p>The brand is using Messenger for automated updates around checking in, potential delays and sending boarding passes. However Karlijn was clear that if a customer has a more complex question, a KLM agent will still get involved. </p> <p>Bots right now may not be in a position to interact in a personal way she says. In that sense, KLM’s social customer service strategy hasn’t changed. They’ve just added a layer of technology to support common requests.</p> <p>KLM is exploring adding more functions to Facebook Messenger and expanding its chatbot to other platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat. These are expected to roll out within the next year.</p> <h3>Learn more about bots </h3> <p>Econsultancy has published a number of posts and reports about bots and artificial intelligence in the last year. In particular, readers may find the following helpful: </p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68388-how-klm-uses-bots-and-ai-in-human-social-customer-service/">How KLM uses bots and AI in ‘human’ social customer service</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/marketing-in-the-age-of-artificial-intelligence/">Marketing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68507 2016-11-15T14:36:49+00:00 2016-11-15T14:36:49+00:00 Which vertical sector is the king of the hill for email marketing? Henry Hyder-Smith <p>In addition, 10 years of increased integration between the technologies and channels used now means better segmentation, increasingly sophisticated personalisation and customer-driven marketing.</p> <p>However, in order to make such a tactics and strategy analysis more useful for marketers it’s important to drill down until we reach the sector level.</p> <p>This way marketers can learn from each other and even cherry pick (and test) good ideas that already work in other sectors.</p> <p>Using data collected for the Adestra/Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census 2016 – a survey of over 1,100 digital marketers around the world - we looked at the top six sectors: Retail/Mail Order, Print/Publishing &amp; Media, Charities/Government &amp; Non-profits, Financial Services &amp; Insurance, Travel &amp; Hospitality and Technology &amp; Telecoms.</p> <p>We analysed each sector to see which are producing the best return for the budget they spend on email, the tactics and strategies they use, the time spent on them, how they focus on mobile and implement automation, and finally their outlook on the future.</p> <p>I’ve picked three sectors from the report which are notable for being best performing, most improved and showing most growth potential.</p> <h4><strong>Print, publishing &amp; media</strong></h4> <p>Yet again, the Print, Publishing &amp; Media industry has produced consistent results across the board. Publishers have seen email performance shoot up since last year (see fig.1), and they top the chart for total sales attributable to the email channel.</p> <p>They make use of the broadest number of ESP services and lead the pack in optimising email for mobile. It’s not surprising then that there is no other sector that feels more love for their ESP.</p> <p><em>Fig.1 How do you rate the performance of your company’s email campaigns? (Results show Excellent or Good)</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1327/2016_email_performance_sector_census-blog-flyer.png" alt="Email performance 2016 Sector Census" width="470" height="376"></p> <h4><strong>Charities, Government &amp; Not-for-Profits</strong></h4> <p>From mediocre results last year, the sector with the biggest turnaround has to be Charities, Government &amp; NFP. Their ROI is consistently higher (and now tops the chart at 84%, excellent/good ROI – see Fig.2), email performance has skyrocketed and more time is now spent on strategic activities.</p> <p><em>Fig.2 How do you rate the email channel in terms of return on investment? (Results show Excellent or Good)</em></p> <p><em><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1329/2016_roi_sector_census-blog-flyer.png" alt="Email ROI 2016 Sector Census" width="470" height="329"></em></p> <h4><strong>Retail/ Mail Order</strong></h4> <p>ROI has grown considerably from last year for the Retail/Mail Order sector, and email performance is just keeping above the overall email industry average.</p> <p>Retailers also score above the industry average for mobile optimisation strategy. While they are keeping time spent on tactical activities down, they have however lost a little focus on strategy.</p> <p>Their use of tactics overall has dropped back since last year, however firms have seen modest improvements in success when implementing automated email programmes. With an eye on the future, retailers are the most innovative sector (see Fig.3), and feel most strongly about innovating with creative behavioural triggers.</p> <p><em>Fig.3 How do you intend to innovate with email in 2016?</em></p> <p><em><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/1328/2016_innovation_sector_census-blog-flyer.png" alt="Email Innovation 2016 Sector Census" width="470" height="339"></em></p> <h4><strong>And the king of the hill is…?</strong></h4> <p>Publishers have produced the most consistent results across the board, while charities have shown a huge upswing in both return and performance as they get to grips with more email tactics and strategies. Travel firms too have upped their game as they adopt more email tactics, data services and mobile optimisation techniques.</p> <p>Retail performance is largely middle of the road, however the sector has a great future potential if it can focus its efforts. While finance firms have experienced a rise in email performance, they are let down by not embracing email tactics or ESP services, and have low email optimisation strategies.</p> <p>Similarly, with few highpoints, tech companies are often trailing the pack in terms of how they use email and (predictably) the return it produces.</p> <p>While we can still highlight individual improvements across the board, some sectors need to use the experience and successes of their peers and look at the opportunities, services and tactics available to really make the email channel work harder for them.</p> <p>It might seem an uphill battle, but experimentation and testing are the name of the game.</p> <p><em>Subscribers can download the full <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census/">Email Marketing Census 2016</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68431 2016-10-28T14:06:05+01:00 2016-10-28T14:06:05+01:00 How to combine attribution and segmentation data to achieve marketing success James Collins <p>Ultimately, being shrewd about how you segment your marketing data gives you the opportunity to become more effective at targeting the right people at the right time.</p> <p>Here, I share just some of the ways you can use attribution and segmentation to unlock even more value from your marketing efforts.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0493/different-customer-groups-shopping-online.jpg" alt="Different customers shopping online" width="800" height="500"></strong></p> <h3>Understand the journeys of converting <em>and </em>non-converting users</h3> <p>As the name suggests, the data captured by traditional CRM systems is based on <strong>customers</strong>: On people who have completed a conversion.</p> <p>However, there will always be far more people browsing your products and services only to walk away.</p> <p>It’s here, in these non-converting journeys, that marketers are able to uncover where their efforts are falling flat.</p> <p>Effective user journey analysis and attributed reporting provides you with not only an understanding of the behaviour of people who buy from you but also those people who come to your site and do not purchase.</p> <p>Armed with this information, you can identify the marketing channels that aren’t helping attract or convert your chosen customer segments well enough.</p> <p>You can then experiment with cutting back spend in those areas and reallocating budget to other more effective channels.</p> <h3>Discover what activities attract new customers</h3> <p>One of the most common uses of segmentation is to provide a <strong>distinction between new and existing customers.</strong></p> <p>Segmentation allows you to distinguish between these two types of customers, while attributed reporting and user journey analysis helps you understand their typical behaviours.</p> <p>This combination then gives you the power to experiment and discover which channels are most effective at attracting each type of customer.</p> <p>How might user behaviour differ between these two segments? You might expect that new customers are exposed to your brand through channels like display and non-navigational search.</p> <p>On the other hand, existing customers might visit your website more often directly, through <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census/">email marketing</a>, or a branded, more specific, search.</p> <p>Once you have the data to prove (or disprove) these assumptions, you’ll have an idea of where to focus your marketing efforts.</p> <p>For example, if you want to attract more new customers, you’ll know which channels, and which combination of channels, to test first.</p> <h3>Reach your different customer groups in the most effective ways</h3> <p>Effective segmentation should also allow you to <strong>determine between different groups of customers based on their demographic or behavioural characteristics.</strong></p> <p>Analysing your attributed reporting data by customer segment allows you to formulate and test marketing campaigns specific to your different customer groups, rather than put out an ineffective ‘one-size-fits-all’ campaign and hope for the best.</p> <p>To give a simple example to put this into context, say you’re a travel company and you’ve identified two of your common customer types:</p> <p><strong>Active Retirees</strong></p> <ul> <li> <strong>Description:</strong> older holidaymakers who have the free time and money to enjoy travel.</li> <li> <strong>Relevant products:</strong> cruises, package holidays, tours.</li> <li> <strong>User journey:</strong> don’t regularly use social media, conduct a lot of online research before making final choice, often complete purchase offline.</li> <li> <strong>Effective marketing campaigns: </strong> display advertising, affiliate partnerships, email marketing campaigns well in advance of peak booking time offering in-store discount.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Affluent Singles</strong></p> <ul> <li> <strong>Description: </strong> spontaneous decision makers with money to burn.</li> <li> <strong>Relevant products: </strong> last minute group holiday deals.</li> <li> <strong>User journey: </strong> impulse purchasers with short lead time, engage with social media regularly.</li> <li> <strong>Effective marketing campaigns: </strong> targeted social media advertising offering limited-time group discount.</li> </ul> <p>In this example, ‘Active Retirees’ tend to have more touchpoints in their path to purchase than ‘Affluent Singles’.</p> <p>Given this data, you can then try targeting your Active Retirees well in advance with an in-store discount across the various platforms that work for them.</p> <p>At the same time, you can test cutting back on the number of different touchpoints used to engage with Affluent Singles, who convert last-minute regardless, to see if you get better results.</p> <h3>Learn how to market to customers with high lifetime value</h3> <p>Segmentation can also allow you to <strong>group customers based on their purchasing habits.</strong></p> <p>For example, one-time purchasers, occasional purchasers, and regular purchasers with a high lifetime value.</p> <p>Using the Active Retirees example again, let’s say that your attributed reporting shows that a retargeting campaign had only a minor impact on these customers’ decisions to purchase their first holiday.</p> <p>In this way, it doesn’t appear to be a profitable a campaign.</p> <p>However, when you analyse the attributed data over an extended period of time, you may find that these same customers come back to make additional purchases further down the line, making them fall into your high lifetime value segment.</p> <p>You may also find that they return using what we might call ‘free’ channels (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/search-marketing/">SEO</a>, email, or direct), interacting with fewer touchpoints each time.</p> <p>When judging the value of the initial retargeting campaign across the entire lifetime value of these customers, the associated ROI becomes much greater.</p> <p>Only by using segmentation and attribution in combination can you gain this insight and judge the performance of your campaigns effectively.</p> <p>This then gives you the power to experiment and get better at targeting the right people in the right ways.</p> <h3>Use attribution to unlock the value that’s right under your nose</h3> <p>By <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66996-the-three-stages-of-attribution-that-are-crucial-to-success/" target="_blank">harnessing the power of attributed reporting data</a>, marketers can better understand the intricacies of the true value of their efforts.</p> <p>By segmenting that data in astute ways, marketers are given the opportunity to test, evaluate, and ultimately get better at targeting their most valuable customers.</p> <p>When talking about attribution, the conversation is immediately drawn into the algorithm, with little regard as to the additional benefits it can bring to all of your marketing channels.</p> <p>The advice I’ve provided here hopefully demonstrates that using the data to enhance insight presents a huge opportunity for marketers.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68339 2016-10-04T15:19:07+01:00 2016-10-04T15:19:07+01:00 Will marketers be automated out of a job? Patricio Robles <h3>Hello, Watson</h3> <p>In 2014, IBM is estimated to have spent $53m on digital display ads.</p> <p>Earlier this year, it was revealed that the company had been experimenting with Watson, its cognitive computing platform, to see if it could help Big Blue better manage its online ad buys.</p> <p>After nearly a year of testing, <a href="http://adage.com/article/digital/ibm-s-watson-programmatic-yielding-big-returns-ibm/304946/">it had an answer</a>: yes, it can, and pretty darn well.</p> <p>'Cognitive bid optimization', as IBM calls it, reduced the company's average cost per click by 35%, and by as much as 71%. </p> <p>Even fractions of dollars and cents "really matters to us," IBM's VP of marketing analytics, Ari Sheinkin, explained, "because of the volume and the dollars involved."</p> <p>Given the potential for savings, IBM decided to hand over all of its programmatic campaigns to Watson by the end of this year.</p> <h3>Einstein gets into the act</h3> <p>Watson is named after IBM's first CEO, Thomas J. Watson, and CRM platform provider Salesforce named its recently announced AI platform after a pretty smart guy too, Albert Einstein.</p> <p>Einstein, which Salesforce bills as "AI for Everyone," aims to make "Salesforce the world's smartest CRM" by "enabling any company to deliver smarter, personalized and more predictive customer experiences."</p> <p>The technology is being applied to all of Salesforce's Clouds, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing and Analytics Cloud.</p> <p>Marketing Cloud Einstein, for instance, <a href="https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/09/intelligent-marketing-and-analytics-salesforce-einstein.html">will offer</a> predictive scoring, predictive audiences and automated send-time optimization.</p> <ul> <li>Predictive scoring "gauge[s] how likely it is that customers will engage with an email, unsubscribe from an email list, or make a web purchase.</li> <li>Predictive audiences builds segments of audiences who share common predicted behaviors.</li> <li>Automated send-time optimization delivers a message when recipients are deemed most likely to engage.</li> </ul> <h3>Wither the marketer?</h3> <p>While Salesforce is pitching Einstein as a way to make its staff, including marketers, more effective, some are starting to ask if the days are numbered for many marketers.</p> <p>It's a somewhat complicated and sensitive discussion for obvious reasons.</p> <p>A strong argument can be made that marketers aren't going anywhere. After all, as Marketing Land's Barry Levine suggests, "the marketer is the liaison with reality."</p> <p>There are still a lot of areas in the marketing process in which human involvement is required and/or desirable.</p> <p>For example, banner ads and emails don't design and write themselves, and there are always "black swan" events that humans will need to respond to, at least for the foreseeable future.</p> <p>There is also the ever-important strategic layer of marketing that can't be distilled into a science. </p> <p>But that doesn't mean that the role of marketers won't change, or that marketing jobs won't disappear.</p> <h3>Thanks, programmatic</h3> <p>With more and more digital ad dollars being spend through <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68323-getting-started-with-programmatic-here-are-some-tips-from-the-experts/">programmatic</a> channels, the online ad market today is looking more and more like a stock exchange.</p> <p>Years ago, the trading floors of stock exchanges were filled with traders.</p> <p>Today, many are practically empty. Part of that is the result of the 2008 financial crisis, but part of it is the fact that the world needs fewer traders thanks to technology. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Living in the next CT town, sad to see what's become of once-largest trading floor in world <a href="https://twitter.com/UBS">@UBS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/biancoresearch">@biancoresearch</a> <a href="https://t.co/XKYkBO8Q6C">pic.twitter.com/XKYkBO8Q6C</a></p> — Liz Ann Sonders (@LizAnnSonders) <a href="https://twitter.com/LizAnnSonders/status/772562669559840769">September 4, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>As programmatic continues <a href="https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Mobile-Fueling-Higher-than-Expected-Growth-of-Programmatic-Ads/1014521">to take over</a>, there will be greater opportunity for businesses to hand over the reigns to computers like Watson and that will obviously have an impact on many marketers' jobs.</p> <p>In some cases, it could even eliminate them.</p> <h3>Don't blame programmatic</h3> <p>But if technology and the automation it can provide ultimately results in a need for fewer marketers, technology shouldn't shoulder all of the blame.</p> <p>No, marketers themselves will have to take some responsibility for the situation.</p> <p>In a scathing opinion piece, Marketing Week's Mark Ritson <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/09/26/mark-ritson-facebooks-erroneous-video-metrics-show-no-one-has-a-clue-about-digital/">argues</a> that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68332-should-marketers-be-more-concerned-about-facebook-s-video-metrics-faux-pas/">Facebook Overstategate</a> shows that marketers are in many cases clueless:</p> <blockquote> <p>...this little debacle once again confirms that nobody actually knows what the fuck is going on with digital media. Not media agencies, not big-spending clients and not armchair digital strategists.</p> <p>From the shadowy box of turds and spiders that is programmatic to the increasingly complex and deluded world of digital views, the idea that digital marketing is more analytical and attributable than other media is clearly horseshit.</p> <p>Sure, it has more numbers and many more metrics but that does not make it more accountable, it makes it less so.</p> </blockquote> <p>While marketers could be forgiven for the fact that Facebook is effectively a black box, it is somewhat amazing that apparently nobody noticed Facebook's major faux pas, which overestimated average viewing time for video ads by 60% to 80% for two years.</p> <p>But marketers can't blame the black boxes either. Examples of problematic behavior in digital ad land <a href="http://digiday.com/agencies/confessions-social-media-exec-no-idea-pay-influencers/">are everywhere</a>, and it often occurs when dollars meet hype, inexperience and bad judgment. </p> <p>And let's be honest: marketers, in many cases, don't have any incentive not to misbehave, get lazy or recognize their own limitations.</p> <p>In fact, they actually have more of an incentive to ensure that their budgets stay the same or grow.</p> <p>Fortunately for them, digital provides no shortage of metrics to justify those budgets.</p> <p>Ultimately, however, digital was sold as being far more accountable, and it should be. Technology will eventually be called upon to help restore that promise.</p> <p>The marketers who plan to remain marketers should embrace that.</p> <p>The marketers who don't are far more likely to become former marketers in the years ahead.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68236 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 Three big problems with marketing automation rules (and how to solve them) Andrew Davies <h3>Is marketing automation delivering?</h3> <p>As marketers, we live in a world where the number of choices that we have to make to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time is increasing exponentially.</p> <p>Marketing has moved from mass advertising where you sent one message to everyone, to segments where messages are sent to a limited number of people, to now having to understand individual <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/understanding-the-customer-journey/">customer journeys</a>.</p> <p>Marketing automation has emerged as a supposed panacea to this problem, yet despite years of propaganda from vendors promising the world, many B2B enterprises that have bought <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/marketing-automation-best-practices">marketing automation</a> are finding that it is not quite the silver bullet they expected. </p> <p>The Annuitas 2015 B2B Enterprise survey of over 100 B2B enterprise marketers from organizations with annual revenues that exceed $250m revealed that only 2.8% of respondents believed demand generation campaigns achieve their goals.</p> <p>Similarly, Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census-2016/">Email Marketing Industry census</a> surfaced that only 7% of respondents deemed their in-house automated campaigns to be “very successful”. </p> <p>The truth is that even if you avoid marketing automation mistakes (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67250-seven-avoidable-marketing-automation-mistakes/">such as these</a>), you are still lumbered with the task of using marketing automation rules and decision logic to select and deliver campaign messages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9143/Screen_Shot_2016-09-14_at_09.19.22.png" alt="marketing automation success" width="615" height="518"></p> <h3>Three big problems with marketing automation rules</h3> <p>At the heart of all marketing automation technology and outputs are the rules used to tell the marketing automation platform which content or message to select and send to which particular contacts in your database.</p> <p>This structure necessarily leads to three big problems for B2B organisations:</p> <p><strong>1) Marketing automation rules cannot cope with complex buyer journeys</strong></p> <p>All marketing automation relies on preset logic (“If this X happens then do Y”, “if X does not happen, then do Z”) and traditional purchase-funnel theory to architect marketing campaigns and trigger communications.</p> <p>The problem is that the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66322-do-companies-understand-the-customer-journey/">B2B buyer journey is much more complex</a> than marketing automation vendors would have you believe. </p> <p><strong>2) Rules cannot adapt to changing contexts</strong></p> <p>The nature of marketing automation rules is that once they have been activated they remain active until you manually deactivate them.</p> <p>This mean that they are not adaptive and they cannot learn from a campaign’s results, only repeat them.</p> <p>Sure, you can create a rule that says: IF [Marketing Automation score] [increases] [+5] THEN [remove from] [LISTNAME] AND [add to] [NEW LISTNAME], but rules cannot cope with the reality that prospects are continually evolving in their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67121-the-lead-data-hierarchy-for-busy-sales-people-savvy-b2b-marketers/">interests and needs</a>, not just their sales stage or marketing automation score. </p> <p><strong>3) Marketing automation rules mean more - not less - staff</strong> </p> <p>As counterintuitive as it sounds, marketing automation often means having to bring on more – not less – staff.</p> <p>As well as a marketing manager, a database manager, a demand gen exec, a content strategist, you will most likely need a marketing technologist who is able to help you get the most out of your new system.</p> <p>All of these people have input into creating the rules that are used and the cost of hiring will ultimately prolong the time it takes to see positive ROI on your marketing automation purchase.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9141/marketing_automation_complexity.jpg" alt="complexity of marketing automation" width="615"></p> <p>As soon as you begin to understand the three big problems with marketing automation rules, it all becomes clear why <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66882-how-to-fix-the-50bn-problem-in-b2b-content-marketing/">60% of content in B2B organisations is wasted </a>and why one of the biggest issues in demand generation is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63400-interest-abandonment-coming-to-a-purchase-funnel-near-you/">interest abandonment.</a></p> <h3>What are the solutions to the marketing automation rules problem? </h3> <p>As the co-founder of a B2B technology company, and having spent the past few years refining our demand generation process, I know just how powerful a good marketing automation system and practice can be - but I am also cognisant of the above problems.</p> <p>This has led us to try the following solutions:</p> <p><strong>Create more rules

</strong></p> <p>It’s true - one way to address the problem of imperfect marketing automation rules is to create more marketing automation rules to try and meet every kind of conceivable customer journey, context or need. </p> <p>However, you can only create so many rules. It is perhaps feasible when an organisation has a limited product portfolio or few content assets, but when you are a high-volume publisher with a wide variety of products and customer types (such as a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67419-how-to-make-content-marketing-easy-for-wealth-asset-managers/">wealth and asset management firm</a>) this is impossible.</p> <p>The problem is that although the number of choices is increasing, the number of rules that we can make (to make the decisions to govern those choices that we can create) is very limited. </p> <p><strong>Hire more people

</strong></p> <p>We can only create so many rules whilst retaining the same number of marketers before the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in.</p> <p>The next option then is to increase the number of rules and increase the number of marketing staff to create and manage these rules.</p> <p>The problem here is that number of available marketers is finite and the number of marketers that one can afford is even more finite, so CMOs that are on a hiring spree will still ultimately be faced with this fundamental gap between the number of choices they need to make and the number of marketing automation rules that their team can can create to make those choices. 

</p> <p><strong>No More Rules - use predictive machine-learning

</strong></p> <p>This leaves us with a third option - eschewing marketing automation rules altogether by turning to predictive, machine-learning technologies that use algorithms to make decisions, rather than rules.</p> <p>Although some marketers may baulk at the idea of turning over marketing decisions to artificial intelligence, it is becoming an<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/"> increasingly common and accepted practice</a>.</p> <p>The benefit of using predictive machine-learning is that it can learn from new information and quickly decide what the next best action is for an optimal outcome.</p> <p>Machine learning is well-suited to environments where CMOs face complex buyer journeys, constantly evolving user profiles and myriad pieces of content that need to be categorised and structured before being served across multiple channels.</p> <p>Better yet, these technologies can be integrated <em>with</em> your marketing automation platform. </p> <p>Rather than relying on restrictive rules-based logic, a ‘no more rules’ approach adapts to the unique signals and interactions of each buyer and automatically decides the best message, content or product to send to them.</p> <p>It’s an approach that saves both the prohibitive operational costs of hiring more staff and time-intensive stress of having to create rules that can govern every scenario in the ever-complex B2B buyer journey.</p>