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A year in review, and what lies ahead for Martech in 2017

Marketing moves fast, and as we move towards the New Year, we begin to look ahead towards new strategies and new technologies. We take a look back at our top four trends from 2016, and the Martech trends that we think will take off in 2017.

Looking back at 2016

Customer experience

Improvement in analytics data mean better access to customer insight – need to harness this to create a better customer experience. In an era where the customer is king, every aspect of business - from strategy to organisational structure - is being reworked to fit a customer-centric model. All too often, marketers get so caught up in vanity metrics that they fail to really listen to their customers. This is a huge error, because ultimately the success of your business depends on the customer, and how you treat them. 

Customers are less influenced by brand messaging, but rather by experiences. Why? Because customers equate brands with experiences. Customers are willing to pay a premium for great customer service. In today’s competitive business environment, people have become less and less tolerant of poor encounters than ever before, and thanks to the nature of social media, bad reviews can spread like wildfire. These negative comments can seriously damage the reputation of your organisation – it pays to keep customers happy.  

Nurture frameworks

Lead nurturing has been an essential part of a successful marketing strategy – especially when building relationships with potential buyers across multiple channels, even if they are not currently looking to purchase a product or service. In modern marketing, buyers don’t become customers overnight. It takes time for potential customers to build trust with a company, and lead nurturing helps companies to build this. 

Lead nurturing helps marketers to maintain constant communication with buyers across channels and throughout the sales cycle, from first interaction through to purchase.  

Account based marketing (ABM) software

2016 saw B2B vendors across all industries scrambling to add ABM to their suite of online marketing solutions. ABM is used to identify and target a key set of accounts, using highly personalised, tailored campaigns to generate leads. Based on the assumption that B2B buying decisions tend to be made by a select group of people, rather than an individual, ABM uses IP addresses to target core decision makers. 

The search for the perfect vendor, however, can prove overwhelming. Every provider claims to be a ‘market leader’, making it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff and determine which solutions really are the best.  When it comes to Marketing Automation, software industry leaders’ Marketo, Hubspot, Eloqua and Pardot emerged as the best in field.  

Tech stack

In 2016, marketers began grouping together the technologies that they were using to conduct and improve their day-to-day marketing activity to create a ‘Martech stack’. The idea behind this tech stack is to streamline difficult processes, and to drive more efficient spending. While building a coherent set of marketing technologies forms the foundation of a coherent customer experience, it is essential to have the foundation of your marketing stack firmly in place before you add technologies.

The core of this foundation should consist of Content Management Systems (CMS), Marketing Automation (MA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  The marketing technology landscape is constantly evolving, and with so many choices, it’s essential that marketers have a clear understanding of which technologies are most suited to their business.  

Looking ahead: Predictions for 2017

AI, predictive modelling and machine learning

We’ve seen AI appear in the news agenda throughout 2016, and marketing is no exception. AI, predictive modelling and machine learning will increasingly impact the types of jobs markers do and the ways in which campaigns are run and measured. Many of the marketing jobs that people have now didn’t even exist a decade or two ago: SEO consultants, web designers, social media experts and mobile / app developers are all relatively new processions. 

The volume of data that new marketing platforms generate alters the dynamic of the marketing department – companies are now employing big data analysts and data scientists as part of the marketing team to uncover insights that will drive business decisions.  

Account based marketing (ABM) reporting

We saw companies clamour over ABM software in 2016, and next, it’s all about the reporting. By 2017, most companies will have integrated ABM into their Martech stack, and will be looking to see a ROI. With ABM, it’s so important to connect engagement data to revenue, and we simply can’t hit revenue goals and understand how to make informed marketing investments without revenue measurement.  

General data protection regulation (GDPR)

Earlier in the year, the GDPR was passed with the intention of strengthening and unifying data protection for individuals within the European Union. While the UK voted to leave the EU, we still have to comply with the GDPR until the process is complete.  

The passing of the GDPR means that it is the responsibility of organisations to manage a data governance strategy that adheres to GDPR standards as a minimum - organisations will ultimately be held accountable for any breaches and could face significant financial penalties. In line with the regulation, persons have to provide valid consent for their data to be collected and used, and organisations must be able to prove that they have opt-in from prospects. 

The regulation also grants people with the right to request that all of their personal data be erased if the organisation is unlawfully using their personal data. By 2017, we expect the regulation to be in full swing, and for data governance strategies to be much stricter.  

Tech and business strategy

The last few decades has seen a fundamental shift in business, and that shift is technological rather than cultural. Technology has never been so integral to business strategy as it is in the digital age. Tech is being used to remodel businesses, products and services, and enhance existing offerings to create more rewarding customer experiences. 

Businesses need to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success from the off-set, with the flexibility to take new developments in their stride. 

Adam Sharp, MD & Co-Founder, CleverTouch

Image source: Shutterstock/Wright Studio

Adam Sharp is MD & Co-Founder of CleverTouch, with over 25 years’ experience in Marketing. Adam is a frequent speaker on the topic of Marketing Automation and Digital Transformation.