5 marketing predictions for a data-driven future

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Every year, we like to take a “time out” to step back and look at the bigger picture.

We want to take an opportunity, as 2018 is now well underway, to address a topic that seems to always be getting a lot of attention across the internet: the future of marketing. 

But we want to go beyond that. We want to look at where marketing is heading, AND its implications for you and your team. 

How is marketing changing? How are consumer interests and expectations influencing that change? How will the intersection of data (and data privacy), technology, and customer experience manifest in the next few years? 

After talking with dozens of top digitization experts, reading more articles than I can count, and doing my own qualitative industry research, I’m excited to reveal our top 5 marketing predictions that you should start to think about for the next 5 years. 

Prediction #1: First-party data will emerge as your most valuable asset   

What would you say is your most valuable business asset? Is it your website? Is it your customers? Maybe your employees? 

All extremely valuable business assets. However, within the next 5 years, your most valuable asset will indisputably be first-party data which you’ve collected about your customers (ironically, this data is largely dependent on your website, your customers, and your team!). 

Each day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated in the digital world. First-party data is SO valuable because you own it, and you control how it’s collected. Therefore, a greater emphasis will be placed on methods of data collection across your website, email program, mobile app, and social channels, and you’ll begin to find solutions to these questions: 

  • Where do you interact with customers? 
  • How are you collecting data from your customers? 
  • Where is that data stored? 
  • How are you leveraging that data? 

Prediction #2: Consumers will demand control of their data 

The impending GDPR in Europe isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) act aimed to protect the personal data of consumers. 

Today’s customer has become increasingly wary — and for good reason — about both the safety and application of their data once they hand it over to a brand.

Breaches, phishing scams, and hacking attempts are commonplace. But even they aren’t the biggest issue related to data capture and usage. It’s trust. 

With so many brands taking advantage of the information they’re collecting about a customer (some willingly handed over via forms and the like, some, like browsing and cookie data, collected without a clear understanding of what’s going on), consumers are starting to seek greater control over what they’re sharing with data processors. 

The answer? Be more transparent in how you’ll use data, use it only in the ways you say you will, and make consent mandatory, easy, and clear.   

Prediction #3: Location data will serve as the most accurate indicator of who we are 

Where have you been? What have you done? Where are you going? 

If these questions aren’t at the forefront of your personalized marketing approach now, they will be within the next 5 years. 

Location-based information will emerge as its own customer data point, enabling hyper-personalized shopping experiences. Most individuals already allow foreground tracking for better experiences with most apps. But within the next 5 years, both foreground and background tracking will go beyond just usability to enable personalisation. 

Both foreground and background tracking allow collection of data based on wherever we go (restaurants, stores, school, vacation) and everything we do (shop, game, view content) can be tracked. 

Brands will begin to leverage this information to offer better incentives and more relevant messaging based on a customer’s location.   

Prediction #4: Companies will broker data to teach machines and algorithms 

Everyone is talking data science, machine learning, and AI marketing. But like humans, self-learning machines also have to learn. Where do they go to do it? The application and usability of artificially intelligent technology is absolutely dependent on the quantity and quality of the data upon which it runs. 

In the next 5 years, we will see the rise of companies that actually broker data to other companies so that they can teach their AI systems how to analyze and act on insights. You’ll be able to lease big data; on the flip side, if your company generates a lot of first-party data, you’ll be able to anonymize that big data and lease it to other companies. 

Data brokering will provide new opportunities for companies with abundant data, and a new solution for companies with little to no data who need it to fuel their machine learning strategy. 

Prediction #5: Augmented reality will augment a lot… especially how we shop 

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already being applied in gaming, cinema/entertainment, healthcare, military, space/flight simulations, and many more scenarios across almost every industry. These technologies will continue to create disruption in marketing and retail. 

Companies like IKEA, Wayfair, and Lowe’s are already using virtual reality to give shoppers a clearer and more realistic idea of how a product will look in their home (360° panoramic views, for example). 

Wayfair enables customers to furnish and design their outdoor patio using VR technology. We’re going to start to see the online and offline worlds merge even more. The use of AR, for example, will commonly allow customers to try on clothes virtually and see a 3D image of themselves wearing certain things or with their dimensions. There’s almost limitless potential for the use of these technologies for other things like: 

Displaying special sales or sponsorships, promotions, end caps, services, and other advertising in brick-and-mortars. 

Using location data like beacons and geofences in-store. Increased personalization like offering of clothing customers are likely to prefer based on previous behaviour. 

Final Thoughts 

Each of these predictions center around the importance of data and how it’s used. For companies who recognize the value of data and who can pair that with the ability to prepare for these trends will be leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. 

The value of data is continuing to skyrocket. It is today’s digital currency and everybody wants some. 

Data impacts every aspect of digital marketing and e-commerce today — the ability of machine learning solutions to effectively operate, our ability to learn about our customers, and to offer personalized experiences. 

Grant Coleman, VP and Market Director at Emarsys 

Image Credit: Rawpixel / Pixabay