From adding new digital tools to revising processes, there are many opportunities marketing departments have to increase efficiency.
Ryan Goff, CMO and social media marketing director for MGH, said that in 2019, brands need to start prepping for the inevitable takeover of voice.
“With voice-enabled devices in more than 50% of households as of 2017, the future is clear,” he said. “Consumers are ditching their physical devices, like computers, tablets and even phones, in favor of voice search and control. The brands of tomorrow recognize this shift and have already adjusted their SEO and content strategies to account for a new way of consumer interaction.”
Lauren Maffeo, senior analyst for Capterra, said that business leaders are investing in digital marketing and IoT, but they do not yet recognize their full value.
“More than half of SMBs surveyed use digital marketing today. However, their perception of how essential it is to their business is much lower in every segment, minus retail,” she said. “Digital marketing is an evolving segment thanks to advancements in AI and analytics. Software features like sentiment analysis can help small business leaders tailor their marketing strategies based on audience segmentation.”
In fact, businesses are in a precarious position: they must find and deploy technology that will keep them competitive against their peers and large enterprises. Companies that wait five or more years to adopt a new technology may never catch up to competitors that started sooner.
The Future is Now
It’s no secret that AI is a huge component of marketers’ tech stacks. That’s why this year, many expect to see a shift toward utilizing intent data alongside AI in order to power personalized content experiences and recommendations.
According to The Content Experience Report, personalized recommendations increase the chances of a visitor consuming more content than generic recommendations by 60%, thus driving prospects through the sales funnel.
Dustin Callif, managing partner of Tool of North America, believes in utilizing technology to create new and improved types of consumer engagements.
“Any technology that doesn’t help a brand solve a business problem or makes consumers lives harder, we don’t recommend investing in,” he said. “What we’ve been recommending and working with clients on recently is Augmented, Mixed Reality, and AI. We recommend each for a different reason.”
AR allows brands to easily overlay their stories and information onto the retail world. Callif’s company worked with Adidas to use AR so that field sales reps could promote a new shoe that hadn’t come out yet, for example.
Mixed Reality helps create immersive experiences within retail and lobby environments. “We worked with Dolby to turn their public lobby into an immersive world of space using mixed reality, which included AR, LED screens and Dolby Atmos sound,” Callif said.
AI provides brands with infinite possibilities of analyzing data and turning it into meaningful consumer connections. “We recently launched a computer vision project for New Balance where we trained computers to analyze pedestrians in NY, learning about their fashion and ultimately learning to pick out ‘exceptions’ to fashion norms,” Callif said.
Juergen Dold, CEO and co-founder of Optimist, noted that the capacity of AI to alter the landscape of all brand communication is only beginning to show.
“AI can support brand marketing and underlying insights in a dramatic fashion,” he said. “If you’re not looking at a way AI can support your consumer centricity as a brand, you’re missing a giant opportunity.”
Another trend that will gain momentum in 2019 is data quality, says Mike Means, SVP of Validity.
“Data is still king and businesses of all types and sizes must keep their CRM data optimized if they want to effectively engage with customers and clients, create meaningful relationships, and maximize marketing opportunities,” he said. “A strong investment in data quality solutions, such as data verification and cleansing tools that provide deduplication, email validation, and data standardization is key to maintaining a competitive advantage.”
The biggest challenge today and moving forward is to dissect the plethora of technologies that support brand experience efforts.
“If you have an infinite budget and resources, of course you can chase every new tech that promises a new way of doing things,” Dold said. “At the end of the day, each brand needs to figure out who their target segments are and what to communicate to them at the appropriate time. It’s about a pragmatic and common sense plan that leverages a clear understanding of where you want to take your brand.”
It’s also worth noting that adding new technology isn’t always the answer.
“Investing in great people should be first and foremost, and then when organizations clearly identify where people and processes can’t scale, technology that can take it to the next level should be introduced,” said Randy Frisch, CMO and co-founder of Uberflip. “Not wanting to have too many moving parts to their stacks, a solution such as a content experience platform that can house all of marketers’ assets in one hub, personalize content at scale, accelerate demand generation and boost engagement through AI will prove valuable for marketers.”
Dold said it’s important for marketers to understand that technology is just a tool and not a means to an end; companies should focus on the end goal and defining the appropriate technology into the brand experience only after outlining a clear, concise objective.
“Consumers want information, content, and communications on their terms, in their time, and across channels. It is a constant evolution of what the leading edge and benchmark is on how to do it right,” he said. “It should always start and stop with the specific group the brand is trying to communicate to, so brands need to establish a simple and structured approach to their must-have content and what the consumer-appropriate channels are.”
From there, he added, you can build out the more ambitious add-on layers that make a difference in getting through to the bulls-eye target of new audiences.