The new year is upon us. Time to reflect on 2019 and congratulate ourselves for our accomplishments. But after the confetti settles, we marketers will return to our work attracting and converting customers.
Over the course of 2019, marketing technology has continued to evolve and help us meet the expectations of increasingly discerning and choosy consumers. Many of the trends we’ve seen gaining momentum will continue to influence our marketing strategies and technology choices, but a few stand out more than others. Here are three marketing technology trends that are shaping up to be game-changers for marketers in 2020 and beyond:
1. AI and personalization will redefine how we market to, nurture and convert customers.
AI in marketing has come a long way in the past few years, and that momentum will continue in 2020, as marketers in every industry look for new ways to personalize their interactions with consumers.
Although, initially, consumers were suspicious about companies knowing too much about them, they’ve begun to expect a certain level of understanding. Off-target, irrelevant messaging is now annoying and can even damage customer trust. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer study, 76 percent of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, while 53 percent expect the offers they receive to be personalized.
With AI techniques and machine learning, personalization is moving beyond simple product recommendations and chatbots to enable accurate predictions about customer behavior. This helps marketers hone their messaging and content to be more relevant and effective with audiences. Marketers are experimenting with AI-powered personalization to improve customer segmentation, automate social and text interactions, create personalized channel and website experiences, and optimize advertising and media buying. The results are more effective brand building, lead generation and upselling, and customer retention and advocacy.
A 2019 CMO study by Marketing Charts reported that CMOs are prioritizing spending for AI on content personalization and predictive analytics from customer insights. What’s more, eConsultancy reports 81% of marketers are either planning to or are using AI in audience targeting this year.
Marketers who use AI are 9 percent more likely than others to claim major improvements from personalization on their overall programs. Plus, predictive uses of AI in marketing will help teams prioritize spend and avoid wasting money on campaigns that don’t yield any return.
2. Expectations for seamless multi-channel customer engagement will necessitate the adoption of technology that unifies experiences.
Today’s consumer expect convenient, seamless and responsive engagement across every interaction they have with a business — from the initial Google search for a location to post-purchase follow-up. And customers use an average of 10 channels to communicate with companies. However, research shows that only 32 percent of marketers engage dynamically across channels.
A lack of data sharing across channels — for example, from the purchase process to customer support — results in disjunct and frustrating interactions that impact the customer experience. About 39 percent of marketers duplicate messages across channels, while 29 percent describe their channels as completely siloed with no coordination whatsoever. Yet 70% of customers say seamless handoffs and contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions are very important to winning their business.
To address this problem, businesses will begin to employ technology-driven collaboration between marketing and other business units in 2020 and beyond, to create a seamless customer experience across channels.
3. As the volume of data and data sources increases, businesses will need more effective data management.
Research from Ascend2 and Research Partners reports the most important data-driven marketing objectives cited by marketers are basing more decisions on data analysis (51%), acquiring new customers (45%), integrating data across platforms (43%) and enriching data quality and completeness (37%). And Forbes reports that companies that adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year than companies who don’t.
But data management isn’t easy. Salesforce reports that the number of data sources used by marketers has grown at a rate of 19 percent since 2017. And the median number of data sources will jump from 10 in 2017 to 15 in 2019 — a 50 percent increase in just two years.
To handle the influx of data and sources, marketers will adopt advanced data management technology and services, as they work to create a single source of data through unification, and automate management tasks such as data cleansing, normalization and enrichment. The ability to share this data across channels and business units will become essential to supporting other key trends, as well, such as personalization and seamless customer experiences.
But with today’s growing, integrated martech and salestech stacks and the frequent changes in business strategies and organizations, marketers can’t just “set it and forget it.” About 30 percent of stored data decays over the course of a year. So, in addition to putting the infrastructure in place to support a unified data source, ongoing management will be essential to enabling marketers to leverage data for competitive advantage.
Step into the Future with DemandGen
These and other trends stand to challenge marketing teams in 2020 and beyond. DemandGen can help you navigate whatever the future has in store. Contact us for a consultation and to learn more.