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Tomorrow’s marketer is a technologist – but still with feeling

Peter Bell Profile picture for user Peter Bell June 19, 2016
An emotional connection is still important, but today's marketers must harness technology to make sense of all the data out there, says Marketo's Peter Bell

Different brain hemispheres © denisismagilov -
In marketing, what’s the right balance between science and feelings? Marketers historically made decisions based upon emotion rather than data. Sure there was science of a sort – for example Gross Rating Points (GRPs) were and remain the primary measure of performance for TV-based advertising campaigns – but there was nothing on the scale that’s become possible today. The shift to digital gives the modern marketer so much data that we can think through the customers’ eyes, envisioning the entire customer experience and journey over weeks, months or even years.

Though emotions remain crucial components of our decision making as customers (neuroscientist Antonio Damasio offers excellent insight on this topic) tomorrow’s marketer needs to become data driven. Not only to harness all the data that’s available, but also to build the individual, personalized, durable relationships at scale that tomorrow’s customer expects. The data needs to both inform the creative process and give context to each interaction to build that emotional connection that is so important to our decision making.

So much data

It is common practise today to use demographic and behavioural data to build this understanding of the customer. In consumer marketing socioeconomic data is often overlaid, while B2B marketing makes use of firmographic (the equivalent of demographics, but for enterprises). With the continued convergence of B2C and B2C marketing I’d expect both of these to cross over.

But this only the beginning. As the devices in our homes and pockets, the cars we drive and services we use become connected devices – as the Internet of Things (IoT) arrives in our lives – there will be a vast store of data. Subject to consent and privacy laws, and frankly avoiding crossing the ‘creepy line’, we will have a level of insight into our customers that would have seemed impossible a decade ago.

Marketers are going to need new technology tools – and the skills to use them – to make sense of this huge volume of data. They must be able to apply analytical thought – and have the ability to put it into practise – to extract insights on the most relevant attributes of customers, automatically clustering them into addressable segments. Gartner highlights the need for the Marketing Technologist within a modern marketing team, but whatever specific roles emerge, there will be a need for specialists in analytics, data mining, technology and privacy that complement the capabilities of traditional marketing managers. We have already seen a trend for centers of excellence that pool these skills centrally and operate as a shared service.

Emotional connection

At the same time, the need to create an emotional connection hasn’t been lost to data and logic. We need to make a connection with our audience and the bar is higher than ever. Generation Z, who will by 2020 represent 40% of all buyers globally, have much more demanding expectations than their forebears. Their self-directed purchase journey sees them, more than any before them, seek the corroboration and experiences of others in their decision making. They will pick out from your content what is relevant to them – all the time evaluating you against their cultural expectations on social responsibility.

Being in the right place at the right time with the right message therefore has never been more important – but without the right data it’s just so much wasted effort. Whether you’re a B2B marketer driving pipeline and revenue or a consumer marketer focused on market share, tomorrow’s marketer has to be there at each interaction and point of engagement. You can no longer design your campaigns from within the ivory towers of marketing departments. You have to think about every customer touchpoint and how you can make the connection that makes sense to that individual at that moment.

High-performance analytics

With new data sources bringing an exponential explosion in the metrics that marketers must pay attention to, there’s a new need for ultra-high performance analytics and next generation machine-learning and predictive technologies to aid the marketer in their quest to make and keep that customer connection.

This digital transformation of business means we have to be listening, nurturing, personalizing, and putting every customer interaction into context, everywhere the customer is. It’s still an emotional connection – but it can only be delivered through technology. Tomorrow’s marketer can neither disdain nor be in thrall to the technology; they have to be in command of it.

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