The marketing industry is once again undergoing a rapid transformation, and to keep up with the times, companies will have to embrace new approaches to consumer engagement.
According to Salesforce’s 2017 “State of Marketing” report, 86% of “high-performing” marketers either agree or strongly agree that the race to provide the deepest and most comprehensive “customer experience” is the basis of their competition. In other words, pretty much everyone in the industry understands what brings in and retains users.
But the perfect customer experience has turned out to be something of a moving target — changes in the digital landscape are making it increasingly difficult for marketers to meet consumer expectations. Online audiences have become accustomed to digital experiences that speak so specifically to their unique demographics, desires, and personal interests that anything short of a 1:1 experience often fails to stand out from the noise.
As such, in order to remain competitive — both right now and especially in the years to come — marketers must make a concerted effort to proactively adopt the latest and greatest in digital, starting with these four trends.
A comprehensive, nuanced understanding of your target audience requires collecting, organizing, and analyzing a tremendous amount of data from a wide variety of sources. Not so long ago, managing this volume of data forced companies to invest in expensive on-premises servers for both storage and analytics operations, which created fragmented, high-maintenance databases.
With the maturation and proliferation of cloud-based technologies, however, companies now have access to essentially unlimited computing resources. And all of these resources should be directed towards delivering near 1:1 experiences to customers. Though cost considerations are still in play, the cloud provides an incredibly strong foundation upon which companies can build the kind of powerful audience-tracking infrastructure this era of marketing demands.
Most companies are convinced that mobile devices, once dismissed as consumers’ “second screen,” are now one of their most valuable marketing touchpoints: more than half of the $73 billion spent on online advertising in the U.S. in 2016 went toward mobile campaigns.
A recent Cisco white paper confirms that mobile-focused marketers are onto something, as mobile data traffic has increased 18-fold over the past five years, growing by 63% in 2016 alone. According to Cisco, this growth isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon, with global mobile data traffic set to increase sevenfold between 2016 and 2021.
By 2021, there will be 11.6 billion active connected mobile devices belonging to a projected global population of 7.8 billion people. That means companies need to coalesce their efforts and resources around mobile now, lest they get caught investing large sums of ad spend in increasingly outdated channels (we’re looking at you, TV).
As the Salesforce report makes clear, high-performing marketers have taken note of the important role social media plays in forming and fostering customer relationships. Around half of all high performers plan to “substantially increase” their social media marketing budgets over the course of the coming year. And majorities of these marketers claim to extensively use both social publishing tools (61%) and social listening tools (54%).
Social media provides marketers with a treasure trove of incredibly valuable and specific data about their target audiences. Failing to build a robust social presence is a mistake that companies can’t afford to make moving forward.
While the rise of cloud computing, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the popularization of social media have all provided marketers with an unparalleled amount of information about their target audiences — and a means to store it all — practically applying all this information is easier said than done. Finding coherent, actionable patterns within such huge datasets is all but impossible with the computational power of the human mind alone. That’s why many marketers are beginning to delegate their data processing and analysis operations to artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
According to the Salesforce report, 61% of marketers agree that AI helps them hyper-personalize their campaigns, and 59% believe that AI increases their productivity. What’s more, almost half of high-performing marketers are already using AI in their everyday jobs, and another 25% expect to pilot an AI program within the next two years.
At Albert™, we’re convinced that the AI revolution in marketing is already here, and that AI will be a defining force in the industry for years to come. Artificial intelligence can be confusing for the uninitiated, but in our Predictions for AI in Marketing in 2018 ebook, our AI experts outline a clear vision of how they think AI will shape the world of marketing over the course of this year — and why marketers should get on board before it’s too late.