With the New Year fast approaching, we convened a virtual panel of experts who live and breathe marketing technology to look back over 2015, and forward to next year. See the panel details below.
Yesterday we talked about 2015’s most exciting technology developments in the martech space. But with technology comes strategy; at least, that’s what one hopes. So what were 2015’s most exciting strategic developments?
“This year,” said Lux Narayan of Unmetric, “marketing technology really started to shift to solutions that help marketers focus more on individual customers, regardless of the channel or device. This is a good sign, as marketers are understanding more and more that customers are in control, and marketing must be done on their terms in a fast moving, omnichannel world. There’s still a long way to go, but silos are starting to come down, and martech solutions are focusing more on digital marketing as a whole versus channel-specific, whether through strategic integrations and partnerships or pivoting single solutions.”
Jerry Jao, as might be expected, given his role at Retention Science, also pointed to customer relations, and highlighted a radical approach to increasing brand loyalty. “Strategy-wise, the most exciting development was the emphasis on building brand loyalty, especially through curated customer experiences and messaging that builds connections. Again, these aren’t particularly new ideas to the savvy marketer, but 2015 is the year it started clicking for large and small brands alike.
“An interesting example would be REI’s decision to close its doors this past BlackFriday, providing employees with a paid day off and encouraging customers to ‘opt outside’ instead. It was an on-brand marketing maneuver that focused on long-term brand loyalty over short-term holiday sales, and it paid off in a wealth of press and positive customer sentiment. This is an especially important development that will dovetail nicely with emerging AI technology: for the machine to be able to send the most relevant message to each customer, those messages must be compelling.”
Stacey Bishop of Scale Venture Partners talked about the way digital marketing is affecting the traditional marketing funnel. “Marketers have long talked about the marketing funnel, but in 2015 the conversation about the importance of the funnel shifted significantly. Digital marketing has transformed the traditional sales process into a new marketing funnel and as customers’ behaviors continue to evolve, this mindset must continue to shift as well. Content marketing now sits at the top of the funnel and acts as the bait.
“Once leads are in the door, marketing automation technology can help marketers decide which channels are most effective for engaging customers. The last level of the new funnel involves leveraging advocates who use the power of influence to drive sales. 2015 proved that the marketing funnel isn’t dead; it just needs to be reborn. There is a whole shift where products are no longer sold, they are bought. At the enterprise level in 2015, we saw a significant rise in Account Based Marketing where companies are selling to accounts rather than individual leads. It’s no longer one person who makes the decision to buy, it’s often ten.”
Tim Barker of DataSift and Mark Cooper of Offerpop mentioned some specific developments. “The introduction of ads on Instagram,” said Cooper, while Barker pointed to “Facebook topic data–the first time that marketers have been able to gain insights from every post, comment and like across Facebook in a privacy-safe way.” Charlotte Baillie of Enigen called out a specific development too: “Buy buttons on Social Channels, almost annoying in a way as shopping just got so much easier, but for a business it’s an incredible way to enable us to sell products in the same place our customers spend their time.”
Nicole Rodrigues of NRPR cited a specific platform, while Patch of Land’s AdaPia d’Errico identified an important metric. “There’s been a lot of great strategic developments this year,” said Rodrigues. “I’ve been watching companies like Eventbrite really flourish and become the go-to ‘spot’ everyone uses to post, market and manage events. They’ve developed great tools to make it very easy to integrate them into events of any size.”
For d’Errico, “The focus on Conversation Rate Optimization is a major step in the right direction as far as marketing and marketing tech. Marketing’s ability to make immediate and measurable changes at first, subsequent and even last point of contact–in real time–is game changing. I see it as a quality over quantity game, which drives down costs across the board. It also allows messaging, brand and content to be highly personalized and targeted, as opposed to trying a catch-all strategy.”
Only Caitlin Grogan, of digital design and development agency Adage Technologies, raised the difficult topic of ad blocking. “More consumers are savvy about ad blocking options today,” she said, “which forces the marketer’s hand to get more creative with their content. It’s exciting to be forced in this direction because it means that organic and engaging content is integrated throughout the digital ecoysystem, tying together different media across different platforms.”
Tomorrow: the market’s state of preparedness for marketing technology innovations.
|Our 11 wise women and men:
Charlotte Baillie: Marketing and Alliances Manager at Enigen UK Ltd, customer experience, CRM and BI consultants.