1. Building a marketing technology stack ain’t easy
The marketing technology vendor landscape is a scary infographic for many marketers. Yes, you know you need a martech stack and you sort of know what key technologies should be in that stack, but how do you decide which ones are the right ones for you? And do you need marketing technology for every marketing function?
Why? There was so much chatter around building the right martech stack this year, and I think many marketers are overwhelmed. There is too much choice, including building your own, and no clear understanding of the right way - maybe there really isn’t a “right way.” Can we leave the decision in the hands of the marketing technologists? They have their own set of challenges to deal with and the marketing technology stack is one of them.
- How tech vendors can fight dark martech
- Are marketing technologists held back by the marketing technology stack?
- It's time to get strategic about marketing technology
2. Year of the influencer
...popularity is not the same as influence, or reach is not the same as engagement. Just because someone has a huge following, doesn’t mean they have the ability to influence and drive an audience to engage with you. Don’t look for the Kardashians of the B2B world. Instead look for someone who knows your market and the topic you are focused on, someone people actually respect and listen to.
Why? 2016 was the year of the influencer. Influencer marketing has quickly become a key way to reach out and get your brand out there, out through the noisy Internet where every brand is vying for attention. Influencers have the potential to reach a broader audience and provide an authentic view that is appreciated more than an ad or a pop-up on the screen.
Influencer marketing isn’t easy, but it’s also not as hard as some think. The challenge is finding the right influencers, building the right relationship and making sure it stays the right relationship.
3. All the ways we can do content marketing
...brands desire engagement because engagement means visitors have the potential to become prospects and then customers. Engagement means they are interested and invested in going further.
Why? Content marketing is vogue. We love it, we want it, we need it, but so does everyone else, and some organizations are simply splitting out asset after asset and seeing no real return. How do you break through the noise? Are newer, more visual approaches the true future of content marketing?
The written word isn’t dead, not by a long shot, but mix in some engaging interactive content or videos, and you’re more likely to gain traction.
- Interactive content can break through the noise
- Video marketing - misunderstood and under-utilized by B2B companies
4. It’s all in the data
Data-driven marketing used to be a competitive advantage, but as more marketers spend time and effort on leveraging their customer data to drive better experiences, there’s less competitive differentiation.
Why? Marketers today are lucky. They are inundated with data about their customers everywhere they turn. They have so much information that can help them understand needs better and create more relevant experiences.
Marketers today are cursed. They are inundated with data about their customers everywhere they turn. They have so much information that they can’t figure out what’s the right information to build a strategy upon. They can’t connect the data to get a true view of the customer, and they can’t spend all their time trying to figure out how to make the data work for them.
The answer to this data dilemma is in the right data, connected the right way, and used intelligently.
- Why do marketers struggle to do analytics well?
- Data is the marketer’s greatest asset and biggest problem
- Data alone doesn’t provide insights, data connections do
5. It’s not just the data - it’s the analysis
Gone are the good old days when marketing dealt with one or two channels to reach potential customers. Thanks to the digital evolution most are looking at many, many more. And for every channel they use, marketers need to understand performance – is it performing as expected? Is it contributing to conversions?
Why? Collecting and organizing data is only half the story and half the challenge for marketers. As more channels get added to the marketing mix, more technology gets adopted, and customers demand better experiences, marketers need to figure out how to leverage data to do things right.
That’s where the analysis kicks in. But there are different ways to look at the data and different ways to use it to improve the customer experience. One isn’t better than the other, but it’s different enough to cause frustration.
- Marketing analytics - just how real is real-time?
- Why is cross-channel attribution so elusive to marketers?
6. Customer experience ain’t easy
When everyone talks about delivering great customer experiences, they talk about how to you need to go above and beyond customer expectations, you have to leave them in awe of your ability to “surprise” and “delight” them. This need to wow is what many think drives customer loyalty But the reality may just be totally different.
Why? It takes more work and more money to keep a customer than it does to acquire one. Yet most of our discussions are focused on acquisition and making sure we know the moments that really matter in the purchase journey. But is this the wrong approach? Are there moments that are more important than others? Do we have to offer these fantastic experiences that wow?
The reality is that there are key interaction points you have to get right. But it’s not necessarily about going above and beyond. It’s more about consistency, making it easy to do business and being there when the customer needs them.
- Is it time to reset your customer experience strategy?
- Customer experience - it's not about being great, it's about being effortless
7. What is the future of marketing?
Mike Tyson said ‘all the planning goes out of the window once the first punch is thrown.' Organizations need to be able to say, culturally we have some idea of how this is going to go but once we turn the sucker on, we’re just going to have to roll with the punches,” states Jay Baer (from the eConsultancy report).
Why? Go mobile first, focus on key accounts, get more personal, be agiler.There are so many different ideas about how we need to approach marketing. Forget about the technology, the strategies are changing even faster. The inbound marketing train has been referred to as the hamster wheel, but some days it feels like every new (yet not so new) marketing tactic is like getting on a new hamster wheel.
What is the future of marketing? It’s anybody’s guess at this point.
8. Getting marketing and sales cozy
Marketing works to create a message that would resonate for customers. But, the sales organization spends the most time with customers. Without tight integration between sales and marketing, your marketing organization may as well be battling with one hand tied behind their back. If properly engaged, salespeople have the most to contribute to creating valuable marketing content.
Why? The battle for customer acquisition ownership is heating up. Or is it? Sales need Marketing to create great content and run campaigns that capture prospects attention. Marketing needs Sales to get a better understanding of who the customer is and what kind of information they look for in the decision-making process. The two groups are tightly interrelated, yet in many organizations incredibly disconnected.
The truth is they need each other to find success, and that connection can be found in the content and the message.
- Can content marketing change the relationship between sales and marketing?
- What is driving the disconnect between sales and marketing?
9. Time to shake up content marketing
Yes, overall we are getting better at content marketing and at its basic level we understand the importance of content – quality content – but it feels like many organizations are basking in the normal. Everyone blogs, is on social media (there’s a better role for social media by the way), and everyone does the same kind of webinar over and over.
It’s time we saw some differentiation in the content marketing world on a larger scale. We need to think outside the box, spend more time understanding customers and finding better, more interactive approaches to connecting and engaging them.
Why? Take a minute right now and look back at your content marketing over the past year. How many white papers did you produce? Blog posts? Infographics? Email campaigns. We are mired down in the normal, the stuff that everyone does because they believe they have to do it because it’s what everyone else does.
Thinking outside the box doesn’t mean getting rid of the old, but it does mean looking at content marketing tactics that are more interactive, a bit more work and that work not just for acquisition, but for other moments in the customer lifecycle.
- Three ways to use social media other than as a megaphone
- Getting bored with your content marketing strategy? Time to shake things up
10. Maybe we need to throw out the baby with the bath water…
It’s a really big problem, because marketing departments are so used to treating humans as this big blob of gunk that can be easily ‘impressioned’ with pictures and colours. But with machines, you’ve no longer got access to your lump of gunk. It’s all robotic. And a lot of our clients are now saying, ‘How the f*** do we market this product to a machine?
Everything- and I mean everything - we learn about marketing today is focused on treating the customer as a real person and humanizing the brand for that person. It’s about personalization, context, visual interactivity. And it’s working, for now.
But AI and IoT are bringing something new to the table, and it’s going to throw everything we know as the right way to reach customers into a tailspin. It’s already starting. How we choose to evolve marketing strategies to deal with this new world of talking indirectly to the customer through machines is going to be a hard pill for many marketers to swallow. But swallow they must.