As we edge closer to 2018, columnist Jim Yu lays out five martech trends you'll need to monitor to lead your organization to success in the year ahead.
As you put together your marketing strategy for 2018, there have never been more tools and tactics fighting for your budget. Technologies considered emerging over the last several years are beginning to peak as marketers inch closer to realizing the full potential of AI, machine learning and voice search. Privacy concerns over tracking and data collection have given way to demands for greater personalization across platforms, channels and devices.
All of this increasingly granular, targeted marketing powered by technology enables more meaningful consumer interactions, driven by a massive amount of consumer data. The next big step in moving the needle on performance requires that you sync your tech around your understanding of that data, and martech is leading the way.
As you prioritize your areas of focus, know that mastering these five martech trends will be critical in 2018.
1. Capitalize on the convergence of martech and ad tech
Given the competitive nature of budget allocation between ad tech and martech, it’s no wonder many executives dread their convergence. Take it from Joe Stanhope at Forrester, though: This convergence of ad tech and martech is nothing to be afraid of.
In a recent CMO.com column, Stanhope shared the two major benefits of the convergence: economic throughput and contextual marketing. Convergence redefines the path of marketing spend across technology, data, media and content, he wrote. As for the latter, it also advances the technology stack and drives engagement across touch points, devices and stages of the customer life cycle.
I’ve written about this convergence myself here at MarTech Today, including the skills you’ll need to navigate this brave new world where ad tech is automating markets and martech is scaling business outcomes. Marketing technology has grown rapidly to claim a 33 percent stake of the marketing budget, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2015-2016, and you should expect that to grow in 2018 and beyond.
2. Put the AI revolution to work for you
Are you prepared to speak knowledgeably on artificial intelligence and defend its role in your organization? How will you measure the ROI of your AI efforts?
Because it’s not a magic-button solution for every challenge, there’s great value in making sure you’re applying AI only where it can actually move the needle. Home in on those high-volume, low-margin areas of the business, and examine the ways AI could help reduce frustrations and improve ROI. Go for the quickest wins first to prove its value early on and win buy-in across the board.
There are even greater gains to be made with a customer-first approach. The machine learning component of your AI technology drives deeper, more insightful connections along each customer’s journey, enabling you to engage with content that resonates when it matters most.
This is critical in 2018, which may well be smack in the middle of the rise of the Internet of Things. By 2020, some expect the IoT to have grown to a sobering 75 billion connected devices. Machine learning is critical as we try to keep pace with the rapidly evolving consumer behaviors and preferences that brings.