Marketing technology will dominate in 2018. This prediction coming from a piece that was an analysis of more than a hundred B2B marketing professionals, as posted by Webbiquity’s Tom Pick.
Although content marketing still enjoys a healthy third of the overall trends predicted for 2018, martech is not far behind, with over a quarter of the total trends centered around developments in this emerging technology.
The B2B professionals voted on 34 different activities across a total of 7 categories, all pertaining to marketing trends in 2018. The field of marketing technology received a total vote count of 22, centered around 4 trends.
“Marketing Technology: Three experts said B2B marketers will make greater use of marketing technology (martech), generally from content development and optimization through distribution and analytics, in the coming year.” – Webbiquity, Tom Pick
According to Gartner, these emerging technologies will help marketing teams better focus on customer centric solutions and help them capitalize in the process. With consumers desiring more customized engagements, the focus of CMOs over the next 18 months is set on customer experience, customer analytics and customer retention and growth.
The following technologies are predicted to be of the top trends strongly emerging in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With AI comes the possibility to transform business practices over the next ten years. This technology has the power to enable better experiences in how we interact and speak to each other. More business disciplines are starting to realize the potential AI has for their industries, therefore the daily searches for the term has doubled since January 2017.
Artificial Intelligence is utilized in the following way. Because it is not a tool itself, it is applied to marketing tools. In the case of ad serving it helps target ads better and effectively. In the case of marketing automation software, it is used to personalize user content.
It is also applied to analytics tools to find patterns at a speed heretofore unheard of, and a scale that cannot be matched by humans. Most recently we’ve seen a rising application of AI technology in chatbots.
Artificial Intelligence has gained traction as an enhancement tool on social media. According to Daniel Newman of V3B.com:
“Companies are already using AI in social media, sometimes in surprising ways. I have detailed the many benefits chatbots have brought as they’ve found their footing in the enterprise. Primarily, chatbots have improved customer service, handling the smaller issues while leaving big customer complaints to customer service reps. “
“Pinterest, another social media giant, acquired Kosei, a company that facilitates personalized recommendation modeling, using data to provide product recommendations to Pinterest users that are more likely to be relevant to them. Social media company LinkedIn acquired Bright.com in 2014. Bright uses machine learning to better match employers with job candidates.”
Although the use of marketing automation software has already been adopted by B2B marketers, there is a prediction of more sophisticated usage of these in the year. This will be in the form of a combination of AI with automated communication, in the process developing an expanded data set which will improve the targeting of content.
Although marketing automation has been around for a while and has already lost some of its cutting edge, what is predicted around it for 2018 is the ability to personalize content by using this system. In the past the marketing automation tools were to a greater extend used to spam prospective customers, but with the level of sophistication envisaged for the new tools, the emphasis is now placed more on using the data gathered to effectively and timeously deliver messages.
Shawn Elledge in his post on V3B.com, outlined a couple of ways that marketing automation can be used effectively in a business:
- Automatically distribute top performing content to your leads.
- Prioritize and qualify leads using a points system based on behavior.
- Send cold leads relevant content based on previous actions.
- Test landing page copy and CTAs to find out what works best for you.
- Send customized emails to your audience based on purchasing, browser, and social media activity.
- Automatically promote upsell and cross sell opportunities.
- Identify and analyze industry influencers and brand advocates.
Yet another marketing expert, Eric Vidal, have shown through the graph below how business are slow to adopt advanced marketing practices in their business, even while using marketing automation.
Source: Openprise 2016 Mar Tech Data Report
According to Brafton, “Combining the powers (of) marketing automation platforms for optimum efficiency and the surgical tactics of ABM (account-based marketing) is a recipe for big wins in the future.”
Data-driven marketing is not a new concept. It has been around since early 2013. However, searches for the term have quadrupled since those early times.
This recent growth is spurred by the fact that the tools used to acquire data is getting more advanced and more sophisticated. Apart from that they are getting increasingly easier to use and less costly. This opens up a new avenue of opportunity for B2B businesses, leveling the playing field, especially for those in the small to medium size, to enter and compete with their bigger competitors.
As such, this field allows clever marketers to collect customer data online from email opens and web visits, but also offline through trade shows and meetings. In this way they are able to tie this information to their CRM (customer relationship management) to build better and richer profiles of their prospective customers.
If you’re still in the dark about how data-driven marketing has taken over your online world, here is a description by Shelly Kramer that will show you the impact this technology has on your everyday web interaction:
“Marketing automation, personalization and targeting happens to us all, on a regular basis. It’s sometimes even a little bit creepy. Have you ever been shopping for something and then days later surfing the web and realize that you’re seeing ads for that item you were shopping for appear pretty much everywhere on the web?
That’s just one example of personalization out of many, and it’s called “remarketing” or “retargeting,” which is essentially continuing to serve you “content” (in the form of ads, in this instance) about something you’ve already demonstrated an interest in. From a marketer’s standpoint, since you’ve already expressed interest, either by visiting a website or by making a purchase, you are a “hot prospect.” Chances are good you’ll buy more.”
What have we garnered from all of this information? Content does matter, as it possesses a huge chunk of the market trend for 2018. However, marketing technology and the fields it supports like automation, artificial intelligence and data driven marketing, are starting to play an even bigger role. These new developments are opening up new opportunities in the world of B2B marketing.