The Future Of Marketing Technology: The Technology Shaping The Future Of Marketing And Data Management In 2016

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Marketers want to get closer to customers and are more interested in using technologies that can help them achieve that ambition rather than just being early adopters. Read this report discover the findings of a survey conducted by Pure360 and TMF, looking at marketers' attitudes towards new technologies and data in 2016.

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What really matters – The technology, or how you use it?

Reading through the results of the research Pure360 conducted together with Technology for Marketing, I was struck from the outset by one thought: Our industry is becoming less open to technology vendors’ promises, and much more focused on the question “how will this help me serve my customers better?”

The appetite for new technology remains strong – over half of those who responded confirm that they are open to trying out new technologies. However, when I drilled down into the figures around the things that people are trying to achieve with their marketing programmes, a strong trend began to emerge. Marketers want to get closer to customers and are more interested in using technologies that can help them achieve that ambition rather than just being early adopters.

The survey confirms that one of the biggest challenges for technology to solve is the complexity of content marketing. The fact that almost as many respondents are prepared to invest in this area as recognise its importance, shows how widely marketers have come to appreciate that sending out mass messages to your customers is no longer going to capture their loyalty.

I was also interested by the irony that although two-thirds of our respondents see robotics as a key marketing tool going forward, only 5% of us feel any compulsion to invest in them!

The most important aspect of any marketing technology isn’t how clever, new, or easy-to-use it may be, it is how well it helps you to improve the effectiveness of relationships with customers, who are in turn changing the dynamic of how they acquire and research their purchases.

We all saw how last December’s Black Friday turned out to be rather underwhelming for many retailers in sharp contrast to the hysteric scenes of 2014. Yet at the same time online sales soared away to yet another record level.

In the USA more people purchased online than in store for the first time. We’ve also seen how in Business-toBusiness purchases, as few as 5% of shortlists in some sectors are now made with input from vendors.

These results show that customers are increasingly doing business with their preferred suppliers at arm’s length, whether in business or as consumers, and that companies in B2C and B2B are changing their approaches to satisfy that demand. Today’s technology focus for marketers is around those that can help develop greater, knowledge trust and intimacy with customers.

Creating successful online customer relationships means building up hugely detailed information about them that can be used to tailor the kinds of messages and offers you send. It means being able to keep up with their preferences, and ensuring that you strike the right balance between tempting them to make that extra purchase and hitting the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

In turn that means not just having ‘big data’ but being able to manage it, interpret it effectively and use it appropriately. Which is where we come back to the most important element in the marketing tool kit – you.

Of course we provide a form of marketing technology. It is very good at what it does, yet across our customer base we see notable differences in the success rates enjoyed by different clients. When we try to identify the factors that drive this difference, it is almost always down to the marketing people behind those campaigns.

Those who do well are those who are most in tune with their customers’ aspirations and habits. They keep track of which emails people open, and where they click through. They can analyse how their customers react to different kinds of offers, and use that information to forecast those that will catch their interest and go on to become a sale.

They recognise those customers who fill their digital basket, only to baulk at the price when checking out, and those that can be tempted to continue the purchase with the right offer. In short, they are the companies that don’t treat their digital customers as trends, data, or click-throughs. They treat them as people with individual needs and reap the success of that approach.

No longer is it enough to be able to just send out an email, the pressure now is all around being able to profile to a great depth of detail. It really has become as close as you can get to marketing to an audience of one.

So it comes as no surprise that another key finding that came out from reading the survey results is that the kinds of marketing technologies that will be making the trends in 2016 and onwards, are those that will help us marketers to build customer rapport, and develop the trust and comfort that is the basis on which a good relationship is built.

It is also important to remember that while customers exercise their growing preference to deal online, and cut out the traditional sales person, it is the marketing departments that are driving the move into a front-line customer engagement role.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be in marketing, and I hope you find the survey results as interesting and informative as I did. Please feel free to share your feedback – I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts.

Quick fire findings:

  • Over 80% of marketers are positive about the opportunities afforded by marketing technologies.
  • 94% of marketers believe that mobile commerce is or will be the most important technology to impact marketing, but the majority (81%) have already or are planning to invest in content marketing.
  • 32% of marketers are unwilling to invest in new technologies until they have better understanding of how those technologies will develop in the future.
  • 90% of marketers consider big data innovation to be important and 51% plan to invest in data platforms over the next 5 years.
  • The most popular form of data collection is on-site forms and surveys for 71% of marketers
  • The least favoured form of data capture is in-store, print, signage and point of sale (POS) with only 14% engaging in this activity
  • Almost 40% of marketers continue to manually input data into databases once collected.
  • 30% of marketers are able to use their data to predict the products and services their audience will interested.

Introduction: A short history of marketing technology

The discipline of marketing is synonymous with technological development. The one enabling the growth of reach and scope of the other; the other determining the encouraging advancements for further reach and scope.

New technologies in the 1980s were making two-communication with customers possible. This initiated the emergence of database and relationship marketing. The groundwork had been laid for CRM, MRM and the eventuality of marketing automation.

Search engine marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) emerge in the mid- to late 1990s with the launch of search engines such as Yahoo!, Ask. com and Google.

In 1999, Mark Benioff, a former Oracle Executive, disrupted the CRM space by reinventing the Monthly Licence (MLC) fee model of the traditional mainframe vendors when was born along with Software as a Service (SaaS). Eloqua, an industry pioneer in the marketing automation space was founded in 1999.

2007 saw the rise of the age of mobile as 3G networks amassed 295 million subscribers worldwide – good quality 3G coverage drove the development of mobile devices and on 29 June 2007 the first iPhone was released.

While the first email was sent in 1971, it took some time for email to find its feet as a mature marketing channel. In the 2000s, sophisticated anti-spam laws and the rise of email databases helped to bring a level of sophistication to the channel and by 2010 with segmentation and targeting growing ever more refined, email marketing came into its own as the primary marketing channel for over half of all marketers.

By 2012:

  • Mobile Internet users reached 113.9 million
  • Mobile shoppers reached 72.8 million
  • Mobile buyers reached 37.5 million
  • Adult-aged eReaders reached 45.6 million
  • Mobile video viewers reached 54.6 million (online video viewers reached 169.3 million in total)

Scott Brinker’s 2015 iteration of his Marketing Technology Landscape illustrates the growth in volume of marketing technology vendors and technologies – further complicating the buyer decision journey and the level of opportunities available to marketers to choose from.

Section one: The future of marketing technology

1. How do marketers feel about new technologies?

This landscape is set to become further complicated in 2016 as wearable and smart technology move into a more mature phase and technology such as augmented and virtual reality graduate from the domain of the gamer into the home of the average consumer. Technology is not only disrupting marketing, but has threatened the status quo of the entire customer journey.

In December 2015, Technology for Marketing together with Pure360 investigated technology trends impacting marketing and the attitudes of marketers’ towards them.

Over 80% of respondents to our Marketing Technology Trends Survey 2016 are positive about marketing technologies with 51.32% saying that they embrace new marketing technologies at every opportunity and 29.81% claiming interest in new marketing technologies, although they are overwhelmed by the concept.

Just 1.13% admitted no interest in new marketing technologies preferring to use traditional tactics and a further 17.74% are unsure about the effectiveness of new marketing technologies. Reticence to new technology is mainly because marketers want to know that emerging technology does exactly what it says on the tin and are biding their time while waiting to be convinced.

[Table or chart in PDF file - Register or sign in to view]

2. Attitudes around influence and investment towards marketing technology trends

We investigated marketing attitudes towards a number of technologies that currently are or have the potential to impact marketing practices now and in the future, as well as plans for investment in those technologies.

Surprisingly, iBeacon technology holds the least favour with marketers with only 37% believing that it is or will be influential or important with only 13% having invested in or planned to invest in the technology. Only 40% of respondents felt the same way about bitcoin with only 7% planning to invest or having done so already.

While 64% of respondents believe that smart robots are or will be influential to marketing, only 7% are planning to invest in them. Similarly, 63% have positive attitudes towards augmented reality, but only 19% are willing to back the technology financially.

On the flipside, 94% believe that technology advancements in mobile commerce are set to be the most influential or important for marketers with 54% of respondents having already invested in or planning to invest in the technology for their businesses. Content marketing holds 92% of favour and content marketing technologies are by far the most popular for investment with 81% of respondents planning to invest in or already having invested in them.

Marketing automation (66% plan to invest), customer journey analytics (69% plan to invest) and big data platforms are in favour with 90% of marketers (51% plan to invest).

Hovering around the 80% mark for marketers responding favourably towards technology trends are lead nurturing for sales and marketing (80%/63% plan to invest), wearable technology (79%/16% plan to invest), Internet of Things (82%/28% plan to invest), 3D printing (75%/14% plan to invest) and content automation (76%/47% plan to invest).

3. The Marketing Technology Purchasing Matrix

After reviewing the above results, it became very clear that plotting these data points out on a matrix would be very useful to further define the importance marketers place on technology and the upcoming purchasing trends.

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Our matrix is structured to allow marketers and technology buyers to quickly access the value the industry places on specific technologies and the seriousness with which it is considering them. From not being interested in a technology at all and placing no value on it (top left corner), to placing some importance but little value (bottom left corner), to considering the tech to be very important with purchasing potential (bottom right corner) and finally of high value and purchase very likely.

While no technology is valued at zero (not important, won’t purchase), the most likely purchases or investments to be made in the near future will be content automation, big data, mobile commerce, mobile apps, marketing automation, lead nurturing, customer journey analytics and in all likelihood, content marketing.

4. Why the tight fist on the purse strings?

Despite the fact the marketers responded favourably to specific trends in marketing technology, it was surprising to see how few have either invested in those technologies or plan to invest in those technologies in the near future. This reiterates the feeling that marketers very much want to see to believe – in other words, they want to know and trust that technology will do as it promises rather than buy into the hype.

Single view of the customer, wearable technology, Internet of Things, predictive analytics to name a few, came out strongly as being popular technologies that aren’t going to be backed financially for the time being. Perhaps the most surprising of all is the reticence to invest in mobile commerce despite it being viewed the most favourably of all the technologies surveyed.

So, why are marketers holding back from investment? We put the question to our respondents – reasons were varied and thinly spread. 31.7% of respondents told a tale of caution: “We are waiting to see how the technology develops”.

12.08% told us they don’t have the resource to manage new technology, 9.06% don’t have the skills required to manage new technology, 16.23% simply don’t have the budget, 5.28% require buy in from senior management and or the rest of the business, 4.91% say they would have no idea where to start with implementing new technology and 6.04% say that new technology is not a business priority.

Other reasons for not investing in new technologies included:

  • “Not a clue what they are!”
  • “In order to implement new marketing technologies I require rigorous cost benefit analysis and these are not always available.”
  • “They may or may not become applicable in our market sector.”
  • “Not appropriate now within our strategic roadmap.”
  • “We want to be sure about ROI before we invest.”

While many individuals in senior positions within marketing departments may have already decided that investment in new technologies or upgraded versions of current technology is the right decision for their organisation, getting buy-in from the board can often be difficult. There is a general feeling that management at board level is becoming more receptive, however, being able to demonstrate how the new piece of tech fits into a business’ road map or what the return on investment will be is imperative for getting sign off.

5. What tech innovations would be most useful?

Finally, we asked our audience to tell us what tech innovations would be most useful to their organisation in the near future. We were taken aback by the level of enthusiasm respondents put into answering this free text question. Some responses were highly practical and should be considered for seed funding. Others were enough to give anything on display at the Consumer Electronics Show a run for its money. Here are some of our favourites:

  • A brain dump of every action I’ve taken during the day.
  • A robot to replace me.
  • A solid marketing automation platform and great digital team plus agencies to smash the market! A system that could cost effectively report on sales by customer and then seamlessly segment that data for emails - and be easy to use.
  • Visualiser software showing our product in situ in customers homes.
  • Any analytical tool that would allow us to monitor consumers’ behavior and expectation
  • Anything that enables mobile to engage consumers. Right now beacons and geo-location technology have been very useful to maximise efforts.
  • Automated and extremely lifelike sales staff, that can drive
  • Automatically curated content and publishing.
  • Better integration between email data, social network data, crm and marketing automation software.
  • Combining the different platforms into a manageable dashboard. Currently we are experimenting with as this gives sales, marketing and technical the ability to see the same information.
  • Customer journey analytics - what impact each piece of communication has on the way to purchase. Integrated discovery (search and social) through to known lead website behaviour through to retention.
  • Easy to use but very capable crm systems; ability to easily update my website on the fly via my smartphone; auto-upload and segmentation of data from different sources.
  • Sadly the organisation I work with are fearful of new tech and new ways of marketing so I fear new tech has little impact on the business. But I am watching programmatic with interest and I think content will grow in significance.
  • A single-source marketing automation system. We have to use so many disparate systems if we are to get best-of-breed functionality in each area.
  • Would be interested in an analytics platform that embraces the new customer journey. Funnel reporting doesn’t really suffice anymore.
  • Death Star to kill Amazon!

Section Two: A focus on data

1. Data capture in 2016

Since 90% of marketers consider big data innovation to be important and 51% planning to invest in data platforms over the next 5 years according to our survey (See section 1.2: Attitudes around influence and investment towards marketing technology trends), it was interesting to learn how marketers are currently treating their data.

In our survey, we asked respondents, “How is your organisation currently capturing data?” Respondents were invited to choose as many options as appropriate. By far the most popular forms of data collection is on-site forms and surveys at 70.94% followed closely by tracking and analysis of website behaviour at 68.68%.

Posting on social networks (64.53%), email promotions (64.15%), newsletter sign-ups (62.64%), at events (61.51%) and through the sales team (60%) are also popular options for data capture.

Data capture via the customer service team has become increasingly popular over time, with 50.57% of respondents telling us that they use this method of data capture. We expect to see this trend continue to climb within the next 5 years.

On the other side of the spectrum, least favourable forms of data capture include display and behavioural advertising (29.81%), gated content (behind a form) (26.04%), commercial partner’s email campaigns and websites (24.51%), viral email (21.51%) and competitions and viral campaigns (21.51%) .

The least favoured form of data capture is in-store, print, signage and point of sale (POS) at a mere 13.96%.

[Table or chart in PDF file - Register or sign in to view]

2. Data management in 2016

We then asked our respondents to tell us how they manage data once collected. The results tell an interesting story. Despite the exceptional developments in data management software and techniques, a large proportion of marketers continue to use outmoded forms to manage data once collected.

However, the form of data management and storage is varied and there is no one outstanding technique or industry standard. Only 17.44% of marketers have the ability to automatically segment data into a centralised hub. While 22.26% are able to pull data from different sources and manually segment it. 27.17% manually segments data within one centralised hub, while for 27.55%, data is automatically dumped into separate databases. Data points for 27.92% of marketers are dumped into a centralised data hub. 31.70% of marketers continue to record their data on a spreadsheet and 38.11% of marketers manually input data into their database.

3. Attitudes towards data in 2016

We wanted to find out how the organisation embraces data and what capabilities marketers have to make the most of the data they collect.

Again, responses to this query were thinly spread and no one trend stands out over others.

27.92% of respondents have the capability to demographically segment their audience. 23.02% of respondents told us that it is enough for them to have an email list to send communications to. 18.87% claim that their data allows them to behaviourally segment their audience such as by past purchase behaviour and abandoned basket.

16.23% of respondents say that their data allows them to allows them to predicts what products and services their audience will be interested in and a further 13.96% told us that their data not only allows them to predict what products and services their audience will be interested in, but when they will be interested in those products and services.

[Table or chart in PDF file - Register or sign in to view]

Conclusion and future developments

Despite reticence to immediate investment in new technologies, it is evident that marketers are simply biding their time a little to understand how emerging technology will establish itself as viable for future business growth outside of the hype. Marketers are preferring to stick to traditional, tried and tested marketing methods that they know and love such as email. This is more than likely in response to the overwhelming number of new technologies and endless opportunities perpetrated by the vendor community.

It is also clear that there is a theme in those technologies that are ripe for immediate to not-so-distant-future investment. Technologies most favoured by marketers (as illustrated in section 1.3: The Marketing Technology Purchasing Matrix), include technologies designed to better manage data acquisition, storage, management and analysis as well as the most appropriate flow of information (content) between an organisation and its customers and prospects.

In other words, marketers are keen to invest in technologies that are designed to improve the relationships they have with their customers.

With so many technology options available, finding the perfect marketing technology can prove a real challenge. To be successful, it is imperative to evaluate as many technologies as possible, be focused on how what they are offering helps to drive the bottom-line and getting buy-in from internal stakeholders.

For those marketers interested in making a technology purchase in the near future but in need of a bit of a steer, these four steps might help:

1. Define the problem

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and write it down. This statement of intent should always be front of mind throughout the process.

Be clear on the KPIs you are trying to improve from the start e.g. For example, are you hoping to increase conversion rates by 20%, or to decrease bounce rates by 10%?

Discuss the problems with different functions (IT, Marketing, Sales, Operations) as early as possible. These teams will have different perspectives on the problem which may make you rethink the problem itself, or consider new applications of the technology.

2. Prepare a shortlist

Once you have defined the problem, the next stage is to prepare a list of potential vendors who may help.

Research the vendors: Which companies are in the market to solve your problem? There are estimated to be 1,876 marketing technology vendors in the industry this year, so there will be no shortage of companies to research.

Speak to existing users. Word of mouth recommendations from other marketers is often illuminating.

Meet the vendors. Attend live events such as TFM where you can meet with a number of vendors in one day.

3. Questions to ask about the technology

Be ruthless about meeting your business needs. Does the solution meet your specific requirements. If not, don’t get distracted by other shiny features - it’s not for you.

Can it integrate with your existing platforms and at what expense? Find out how data will move from one platform to the other. Does it have API’s or existing integrations you need to plug into your systems?

Do prospective vendors have case studies of clients in similar industry or size to you? Enterprises and Small Businesses have very different requirements, so a solution fit for one may not suit the other. Chances are that they may have already solved your problem.

How usable is it for marketers? The more intuitive a technology, the better the dashboards, the more time your teams will spend with the tool. While IT may see it as being all about the specs, try to find a backend that your team will fall in love with.

How scalable is it? A technology may cover your technical requirements of today, but what about in three years time as your business (hopefully) increases? Is their roadmap in tune with your own?

How good is the customer support and training? You want to be more than just a number. Make sure someone is there to pick up the phone when it goes wrong.

What are the full costs of implementing this solution? Ask about not just the initial setup, which can be deceptively low, but understand recurring payments for hosting and support. Does this increase as your usage increases?

4. Create an investment case

Finalise your shortlist. You should now have enough to shortlist of technologies and providers. Lay out their strengths and weaknesses clearly before recommending the solution most suitable for your organisation.

Start to write your business case. Always refer back to the business benefits of the proposed solution, using plain English, and short sentences. When writing for the C-Suite try to avoid industry jargon and make it immediately clear how this will impact the bottom line.

What is the people cost? Implementing a technology solution is as much about people as it is about functionality. What are the any additional costs or savings from increasing/ decreasing headcount? Will it require significant training?.

How will the solution benefit other areas of the business? The more applications you can put the technology to, the more likely to have investment signed-off..

Calculate the return on Investment over a three year period. Be realistic about the increase in audience increase / conversion that the solution promises.

'Socialise’ the business case Stakeholder buy-in remains important, so before you submit it ensure that you ask for their input before it is finalised. The more support you get from other functions the better.

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