With thousands of marketing technology vendors to choose from, most companies are using multiple products to meet customers where they are — whether they’re scrolling through Instagram, doing a Google search, checking their email or entering a store. As a result, marketing stacks today may consist of dozens of different technologies and potentially thousands of data streams.
This fractured landscape makes it difficult for companies to get a holistic view of their customer data and analyze marketing performance, but finding a solution is imperative. Visibility is critical to the success of today’s marketing teams — that’s what allows them to optimize strategies, course correct if needed and achieve campaign goals.
Companies have sprouted up to address this need. As the chief marketing officer (CMO) of one such platform that provides a single source of truth for integrating customer data, tracking marketing performance and analyzing return on investment, it is clear that these marketing intelligence tools are entering the mainstream. However, I have found that some marketers remain unclear about their long-term uses.
As customer expectations for personalized engagement evolve, CMOs need to understand how influential trends will affect the way they evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing and how marketing intelligence can help them stay one step ahead. Here are the five trends that I believe are shaking up the marketing industry.
1. Artificial intelligence is moving beyond the hype.
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are now capable of doing the heavy lifting in processing massive amounts of data. For example, marketers can create continuous data source connections and automatically organize data in real time without specialized technical skills.
When asked “which activities marketing analysts spend the majority of their time on, data wrangling topped the list, along with data integration and formatting,” according to Gartner’s “2018 Marketing Analytics Survey.” Marketing intelligence tools can help leverage these AI capabilities specifically for marketing use cases, without marketers having to build tools from scratch or adapt general enterprise solutions for their needs.
These tools enable marketers to integrate all of their data, have visibility into it in real time and take action to pivot journeys or campaigns as they’re happening. I believe AI will soon get even better at not only surfacing insights but also at providing smarter recommendations and empowering marketers to take action on them.
2. Marketing analytics is becoming democratized.
Barriers to entry are dissolving when it comes to marketers accessing data insights. The technology solutions emerging today are leaning into marketers’ skill sets, allowing them to focus on analytics without requiring the technical know-how to create complex models.
Marketers can use marketing intelligence to acquire a deeper level of insight by connecting the dots across all customer engagements, including email marketing, paid advertising, web traffic and more, rather than being limited to data from a single channel. With these tools, you can gather recommendations about how to structure programs and spend budgets based on historical data from your own company and industry benchmarks.
3. Martech and adtech continue to converge.
As marketers have sought ways to create a seamless experience throughout the customer journey, marketing and advertising technologies have begun to merge. This trend has been happening for quite some time, but analytics has remained a challenge. Marketing intelligence tools are bringing all of that information from across the customer journey — from paid advertising to email and e-commerce — together in one place.
Regardless of whether an ad platform is part of a larger enterprise marketing technology solution or is a standalone vendor, brands can leverage marketing intelligence to bring everything together in one place to analyze performance, from first-party data about known customers to anonymous data and from the granular to the aggregate.
4. Brands and agencies are banding together.
Traditionally, brands allocated a budget for agencies to spend on advertising, and the brand would take it from there. These days, I find that brands want more transparency into where their ad spending is going and a better grasp of how it’s performing. Brands and agencies are often taking joint ownership of data and working together to drive customer engagement not only through advertising but also throughout the entire sales cycle.
As agencies and brands become strategic partners, they are also converging on the technologies they use. Marketing intelligence can help provide a single source of truth for both agencies and brands in order to collaborate on a standardized platform.
5. Customers are demanding personalization.
Companies that sell products directly to customers are known as business-to-consumer (B2C), while those that sell to other companies are known as business-to-business (B2B). Many companies are both. For example, Ticketmaster sells tickets for live events directly to customers and also has business relationships with venues, entertainment agencies and sponsors.
(Full disclosure: Ticketmaster is a client of Datorama.)
In the past, business buyers didn’t require the same level of personalized engagement as consumers in the market for shoes, chairs and TVs. Now, B2B marketers are expected to step up their personalization strategies. That means reaching beyond traditional demand generation sources, like a company’s website, to channels like LinkedIn and Instagram.
In light of this shift, I believe it’s more important than ever for B2B brands to employ marketing intelligence in the same way as B2C companies do. These companies can gain a unified view of their data, connect every part of the sales funnel and enable highly personalized marketing campaigns.
The Next Competitive Advantage
Marketing leaders who feel overwhelmed by the challenge of unifying disparate data streams are in good company — this is the same quandary many of the largest brands in the world are tackling. While it’s easy to succumb to analysis paralysis, companies that get ahead of the pack in achieving true visibility are often better poised to win.
CMOs already invest nearly a third of their budgets on marketing technology. Now it’s time for marketers to make sure they’re able to make sense of all the data they collect.
Feature Image Credit: Getty
Chief Marketing Officer at Datorama. Former CMO at Synthesio. Helping marketers navigate their data woes each step of the way.