As we put a bow on 2018 and unwrap a shiny new 2019, we anticipate the continued adoption, maturity, and effectiveness of autonomous marketing, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence.

By 2023 (Gartner predicts), these techniques and solutions will squash some persistent marketing questions, including:  

Did it work?

Marketers are investing heavily in attribution technology (see Marketing Technology Survey 2018: Martech Adoption Surges as Brands Pursue Personalization, Measurement and Advertising Accountability–Gartner subscription required). Moving forward, analytics teams must surface trends, insights, and recommendations to drive growth, customer satisfaction and retention across channels. Unified customer data improves your ability to ensure that you can connect and analyse offline marketing touches and outcomes (or those that happen across channels) to determine influence on the customer journey.  

What’s the best day to send this email?

Event-triggered marketing is among the top techniques marketers believe will have an impact in the next five years. With greater adoption of triggered marketing techniques, machines will increasingly select the optimal time for deploying a message in a particular channel, for an individual subscriber. Many personalisation strategies focus on content (and rightly so). But in 2019, improving the timing between a consumer’s observable and predicted behaviour, and linking behavioural insights to the delivery of marketing messages, is a task best left to machines. New tools’ granular analysis capabilities can translate hypotheses into tests and yield action plans that can improve performance – Tuesday? Thursday? Increasingly, machines will make this decision for us, and improve impact in so doing.

Which one of these designs is better?

Mounting different design concepts on a wall to assess which is “better” is throwing the wrong process at the wrong question. Data enables teams to focus instead on “which of these designs is more effective.” A/B testing (to compare the effectiveness of two concepts) is only the tip of the iceberg, with content created by artificial intelligence lurking beneath the surface. Utilising access to vast libraries of stock photography, video, text, and a thorough data set of previous marketing executions, machines can constantly test new variations. Brands report performance gains from content variations generated in nearly infinite numbers and tested just as rapidly, with no bruised art director egos, or perhaps even no Art Directors at all.

Who approved this?

Content and automation will very likely improve performance, but the I in ROI remains tied to the expenses of labour, technology, and media. The increasing complexity of organisations and greater need for transparency and collaboration are fueling adoption of digital content management and work management solutions. Fifty-three per cent of respondents to Gartner’s 2018 Marketing Technology Survey say they’ve already deployed or are in the process of deploying a work management or project management platform (see Survey Analysis: Marketers Ramp Up Content Technology That Supports Personalization and Optimization – Gartner subscription required). Brands can increasingly track the strategic marketing strategies, not just tactics and results stuffed into an endless spreadsheet. Plus, the greater penetration of consent management, audit capabilities, and a need to integrate algorithmic verification will force marketing teams to trace the entire continuum from budget allocation to attribution of success.

What should we do next?

In addition to relief from the drudgery of creative composition, we’ll see dramatically greater impact from both campaign journey orchestration and next-best-action recommendations. Support will come from all sides: customer data platforms that act as smart hubs, as well as integrated suites that enable decisioning and message execution. Personalisation engines, A/B testing and dynamic creative optimisation solutions will also be part of an expanding automation of the touches that comprise the customer journey.

How (and who) can we help?

A major trend uncovered in our 2018 State of Personalisation Report is the prevalence of “tailored help” approaches to personalisation. Marketing teams able to leverage personalisation, from a variety of different martech points of view, will very likely be addressing greater swaths of the customer journey. They’ll also leverage predictions and recommendations more frequently to surface the right content before the prospect needs it — in advance of when current customers are likely to want it. Conversational approaches will play a major part of this shift, and the approaches are beginning to pay off. Automaker Kia is already seeing 3x more conversions through its chatbot than its website  – a testament to the need for greater assistance to be delivered in plain language by a bot, voice assistant, or even a human representative.

From algorithms and automation to privacy and media innovations, see our Predicts 2019: Marketing Seeks a New Equilibrium (Gartner subscription required) for a detailed guide to the marketing trends shaping 2019 and beyond.

  • This article is reprinted from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 
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