Why Marketers need to go all- In on Technology in 2018 - A Report

Vinod Harith, Founder CMO, CMO Axis

2018 promises to be the year of marketing technology. Forrester predicts that Martech budgets will take center stage in 2018 with double-digit growth. Gartner concurs: Martech spending is set to account for 22 percent of the marketing budgets, according to the 2017-2018 Gartner CMO Spend Survey. Apparently, brands realize that in order to deliver superior customer experience and business results, they will need to move past paying lip service and build a strong data-driven marketing practice. Going all-in on Martech enables marketing teams to innovate, accelerate, measure, fine-tune, and repeat processes over and over again - until they have perfected the formula for success.

So where are global CMOs putting their technology investments in 2018?

The role of CMOs is undergoing a radical shift with global heavyweights such as Coca Cola, Hershey’s, Kelloggs and others consolidating marketing, strategy, and commercial responsibility into a single role titled - Chief Growth Officers or CGOs But how exactly are CMOs looking to deliver on their newly expanded roles? They are turning to Martech, of course. 73 percent of marketers believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will dominate the marketing-scape this year, while 20 percent think it will be voice-first technologies such as chatbots, smart assistants, and voice search, according to a recent survey. 63.5 percent of marketers also believe that Big Data will finally usher transformative results for marketing in 2018.

Here are four key areas where Martech will make the maximum impact:

AI-Driven Content Marketing - With dwindling customer attention spans, churning content for content’s sake is no longer effective. Developing content that catches the customer’s eye requires more than pithy wordsmithing. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help marketers get to the next frontier of personalization. By discovering, curating, and recommending content from various sources such as social media, forums, and websites, AI can help create truly contextualized and tailored experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2018, AI will author 20 percent of all business content. AI powered tools such as Curata, Scoop.it, and Automated Insights help with content generation, scaling, optimization, and performance measurement.

One-to-One Customer Engagement through Bots- Chatbots and smart assistants a la Alexa, Siri, and Cortana are the new custodians of customer experience as they enable brands to personalize engagement at the speed that customers expect. Just as marketers strive to connect one to one with customers, consumers too want to be able to chat with brands on a channel and at a time of their choice. Integrating conversational bots across platforms and channels will be critical for marketing success in the near future. Digest this - currently 20 percent of all Google searches are voice queries, a proportion that is expected to touch 50 percent by 2020. Optimizing your SEO strategy and other pre-sales processes to support voice-search has clearly moved beyond ‘good-to-do’ to the ‘must-do’ category.

Cloud and AI-Powered Lead Generation, Segmentation, and Nurturing - AI promises to revolutionalize the way marketers go about their lead generation funnel. From fast-tracking the lead qualification process by sorting through massive databases to refreshing stale leads, and even customizing your sales pitch to match the buyer personas of your leads, AI can do it all. Salesforce leverages Einstein, its AI-powered platform to automate parts of the sales process and predict future sales patterns by drawing meaningful insights from the company’s humongous sales data. Harley Davidson recently leveraged AI to increase winter sales of its motorcycles (typically dismal due to freezing temperatures) at its New York dealership by 2,930 percent.

Sharpening Marketing Intelligence - Marketing analytics will account for a major share of Martech budgets in 2018. As the pressure to deliver results increases, Forrester predicts that over 50 percent of CMOs are set to frontline customer experience initiatives in 2018, with analytics playing a critical role in helping them create a marketing-powered growth engine. AI and ML based algorithms can anticipate (perceived as well as expressed) consumer needs in real time and respond with contextualized responses on social media, web, and mobile. MadTech (a combination of MarTech&AdTech) analytics can help further optimize these algorithms over time to create the most appropriate marketing channels for various customer segments. Big Data and AI-powered MadTech start-ups such as The Sandpit, Attest, and others are enabling brands to nail the right product-market fit while simultaneously solving problems, making marketers’ lives easier and helping customers.

To be Effective Martech Investments Must Cover the End-to-End Customer Lifecycle

69 percent of marketers are turning to Martech to increase their overall ROI – 48 percent say it improves their marketing efficiency, while 40 percent credit it for superior decision-making. However, to be able to achieve these impressive results, it is imperative that Martech be applied holistically across the customer journey, not in silos.Today is an interesting time for marketers – they can get technology to do all the heavy lifting, enabling them to focus on what matters most – innovation and business growth. Is your MarTech strategy ready for 2018?