Evolution not Revolution: The Future of Marketing Automation

I order an Uber on my smartphone, use an app to make sure my cappuccino (skinny, hold the sugar) is ready for me to pick up without waiting in the queue, and stream an episode of Stranger Things on Netflix using mobile data all on my way to work.

Do I think, ‘Wow, that was a revolutionary experience, how did we get here?’ Not really, because our current modern day lives are the culmination of constantly evolving technology rather than a single technological revolution. Now, if I’d jumped out of my horse and cart to watch the first combustion engine powered vehicle, or observed the Wright Brothers make the first manned flight, or even if I had been there to watch the 1969 Moon Landing, I would have considered these things as revolutionary, however with the modern-day rate of change in technology, constant evolution is the norm.

So, how does this apply to Marketing Automation?  

Marketing Automation is still growing up, and in terms of sophistication it’s probably still in its teen years, just past the teenage angst stage, and now moving into an age of conformity where it realises mum & dad aren’t so bad!

Even if the future of Marketing Automatoin is not revolutionary, it will definitely still be evolutionary. These changes will come about from the consolidation, evolution, and adoption of existing technologies & strategies across and deeper into organisations. The future of Marketing Automation will include the following 3 major trends:

Account Based Marketing (ABM) Will Be Standard

You might say that “ABM’s been around for years and is nothing new”. While I agree, ABM has typically been a sales-led strategy or it has been aligned across Sales & Marketing, but it hasn’t been able to scale due to the intensive resources that doing ABM proper can require.

Today seamless ABM strategy is a myth. As an organisation trying to run integrated ABM, you’ll probably have to choose: a data vendor, a predictive vendor for account targeting, maybe a 3rd party data vendor for anonymous account profiles, and then display partners — phew! 

So what’s going to change?

As most areas of marketing are constantly changing, there’s no surprise when some of these changes happen within a short time period. This will likely be true with Marketing Automation as vendors’ ABM offerings will continue to broaden and consolidate — meaning marketers can choose from fewer vendors to meet their ABM needs. In addition, out of the box integrations, adapters, and connectors will become more robust and the need-to-do custom integrations will diminish — providing a path to ABM with little or no IT overhead blockers.

At this point, data will move freely between technologies and the marketer will be able to rapidly implement end-to-end ABM strategies. Marketers won’t have to build out ABM implementation roadmaps, they will be able to simply develop and execute their ABM strategies.

AI Will Be Pervasive

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Neural Net are all great capabilities, and many marketers today are involved in specific projects trying to solve case-based problems using such methods (I’ll just use AI as a catch-all). 

Many B2B marketers I speak to are investigating or using predictive models for their Lead Scoring — to help identify the top leads for their sales team to speak to. It’s the natural evolution of rules-based Lead Scoring.

Other marketers are looking for product recommendations based on past purchase information, interactions, profiling and firmographics. Again, each of these are one-off use cases for AI, to effectively apply AI to a complete customer journey, an organisation is going to have work with multiple vendors with varying AI capability & use cases. 

Currently a marketer has to prioritise their AI focus; where they are going to apply it, and what it’s going to solve — i.e. the channel they’re going to use to reach customers, or whether they’ll engage with customers at all.

What does this look like in the future?

Looking forward, AI will be based on a foundational layer of AI capability provided by your technology partner. With this in place, the marketer of tomorrow will be able to apply AI across the full range of tactics and strategies that influence the buyer’s journey. 

For example, AI will be applied to lead scores, the best content to be used for email vs SMS or the best channel to use for a prospect given day, time, behaviour, intent, and so forth. Additionally, that same AI capability will inform the sales organization when the best time is to follow-up with customers and pffer guidance for the type of conversation they should have.

Essentially, AI capability will be at your fingertips to help power your customer experience.

Marketers Will Be More Empowered

The rapid rise of technology has led to many channels, disconnected teams, siloed data, fragmented systems, and a serious skills shortage to match the new technology adoption rate. 

In a recent study run with Econsultancy, Oracle Marketing Cloud found that one of the biggest barriers to companies implementing Marketing Automation is: ‘27% of marketers cited a lack of skills and education in the market.

Below are 3 pillars that will help marketers empower themselves to take on the challenges of tomorrow:

  1. Agility — marketers must be efficient, effective, and collaborative to overcome the “Content Challenge”
  2. Adaptability – platforms have to be able to adapt to the context & need of the changing customer journey
  3. Innovation – technology & strategy needs to adapt to the rate of change in technology and channels

Today, many marketers sacrifice one or more of these concepts for another. A platform capable of adaptive, dynamically adjusting journeys isn’t the most intuitive platform, and your intuitive marketing engine might be a closed shop when it comes to integrating with other systems. Today, and more likely so in the future, marketers’ expectations will be for plug-and-play technology that they can easily integrate and adapt to their needs.

Marketers of the future will be empowered to create content quickly and easily aligned to personas, funnel stages & interests. The content is shared & reused across the business. However, to get to this point there is still a large education gap in the ANZ market that needs to be filled. Back in 2012 Forbes asked if “data is the new oil”. If so, then data-savvy marketers are the engineers that will need to develop skills in refining that oil for your marketing needs — because raw data, like crude oil, won’t power your marketing requirements.

So the future of Marketing Automation will bring real improvements in the way marketers will be able to target, relate, and communicate with their customers. Pervasive AI may bring that step-change in the effectiveness that marketers bring to the table.

This new world will not be un-recognisable from the one we live in today.  If you don’t have a strategy or haven’t thought about how you can differentiate your brand message, you will not come out on top! The winners will be those that have a strong foundation of strategy, brand and focus and implement tomorrow’s marketing automation applications built on those foundations.

The question is: will you strive to be a winner or take a seat on the side only to lose in the end? Hopefully, you’ll choose the former, and if you do, this guide will help make sure you rise above the competition. Download Busting Common Myths of Marketing Automation: The Reality of the Marketing Technology Journey now! 

Busting Common Myths of Marketing Automation: The Reality of the Marketing Technology Journey

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