When Scott Brinker released his annual “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic” in early 2017, many in the marketing community believed martech had hit a high point it would never reach again.
The solution landscape grew by 40 percent in 2016 to over 5,000 different tools — from the foundational to the almost comically trendy — and each one helped mark a true revolution in the way businesses market themselves, market their products, and engage with their customers. The growth in marketing technology in 2016 highlighted that digital marketing is both the present and the future. Big data reigns supreme. New technologies have turned marketing to more of a science than ever before. At the center of all of that is you: the marketer. You are the person who has weathered the storm, embraced change, stayed up on trends, and ultimately wants to know:
Is the Digital Marketing Revolution Here to Stay?
At ReachForce, we believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” While it remains to be seen whether marketing technology can maintain the rate of growth demonstrated in 2017’s report, there is no question that innovation continues to accelerate the development of new technologies and push the envelope for how marketers do their jobs every day.
Want proof? This post shares five signs that the digital marketing revolution is still going strong — and will continue to only get better for the foreseeable future.
Before diving into that, consider exactly what factors allow digital marketing to succeed (and why those factors are not going anywhere anytime soon):
The 3 Factors Making Digital Marketing a Success Today
There is more technology available to help you do your job than ever before. However, technology alone is not what is driving the digital marketing revolution. Unlike the technology being developed in, say, the self-driving auto industry, marketing technology still — at least for the time being — needs a flesh-and-blood marketer behind the figurative “wheel” to tell the technology what to do and when to do it.
So, while technology undoubtedly plays a significant role in how marketers optimize their marketing strategies today, the digital marketing revolution is being driven by a few other factors worth mentioning.
#1. Accessibility to high-quality customer data like never before
The wealth of demographic, behavioral, and psychological data at the fingertips of most marketers is enough to make your Mad Men-era marketer go weak at the knees. It is easier than ever to paint a picture of:
- Who your audience is
- What they care about
- Where they spend their time
- How they want to engage with you
Just because that data exists does not mean your business is using it intelligently. All inbound data should be collected, unified, cleaned, and enriched through a data management platform like ReachForce to ensure you are making intelligent campaign decisions based on high-quality data.
Once you have that high-quality data, the possibilities for reaching your audience have grown exponentially. That leads to the next factor contributing to the success of digital marketing.
#2. The evolution of multi-channel marketing
Television, radio, print. Those are the avenues marketers used to have for reaching their audience (maybe throw in billboards and sign spinners, too, but the ROI there is admittedly even more ambiguous). We sure have come a long way.
Today, the combination of social channels, display ads, email, and search marketing give marketers more avenues to reach target customers in the right place, at the right time. Combined with the wealth of customer information, that means more personalized campaigns that can be segmented to reach specific subsets of customers based on their own unique preferences and activity.
With that comes the holy grail of digital marketing success.
#3. The ability to demonstrate ROI for marketing efforts
Simply put, marketers can prove what they do generates revenue for their organizations — something that was near-impossible prior to the rise of marketing technology that helps track your customer’s journey and shows the exact engagements that lead to a purchase decision for your leads-turned-customers. That ROI has led to bigger budgets than ever before and the subsequent wave of marketing technology launches seen in the last couple years.
Even with those three factors in place, how can marketers know that the digital marketing revolution is not about to come to screeching halt? Here is how.
5 Signs that Tell Us Digital Marketing Technology is Only Going to Get Better
#1. Consumers will not have it any other way.
Debating whether consumer demand pushed marketers to get more personal in their campaigns or whether it is the inverse that is true becomes a bit of a “chicken-or-the-egg” conversation. How consumers reached this point is far less important than the fact that we are here and there does not seem to be any signs of turning back.
Both B2B and B2C customers alike have very little patience today for generalized marketing campaigns. People simply do not care about being on your generic email list or seeing your one-size-fits-all display ads across the web. Instead, they insist upon a more specific, personalized approach to your interactions.
As a result, marketers are on the hunt for better ways to both improve the level of personalization in their campaigns and automate more of that personalization process to take the weight off their shoulders. That means more marketing technology will continue to evolve to meet those needs, thus helping push the digital marketing revolution into the future.
#2. Digital marketing continues to get more affordable (and profitable).
Marketing technology can be expensive; that is for certain. There are a couple major reasons digital marketing is more affordable (and will keep getting “cheaper”), despite the fact that marketing spend continues to increase dramatically.
First is the quick turnaround times between creative concept to implementation. Print and TV ads took significant time, resources, and risk to develop. Today, a marketing team can take an idea from the drawing board to the customer in no time at all. Second, those concepts can be tested and measured in real-time against other concepts to determine which are working and which are flops. A/B testing is bigger than ever, and the real-time audience feedback received from those tests is invaluable both for the campaign being worked on and future campaign development, too.
That leads to the final reason digital marketing is becoming increasingly more affordable. It is because the ability to prove ROI from your marketing spend is only getting better. The more you can demonstrate how marketing technology impacts your organization’s revenue, the more smart companies will want to invest in increasing that impact. More spend equals more innovation from marketing technology companies, and the wheel keeps turning to keep the digital marketing revolution alive.
#3. We have only seen the tip of the machine-learning iceberg.
To state the obvious, artificial intelligence is pretty mind-blowing. While machine-learning has made some pretty tremendous leaps and bounds in other industries, the impact in marketing has still been fairly small. Not because of a lack of possibility — marketers will use AI in new and even more interesting ways in 2018 — but simply because machine learning is still a “fringe” marketing technology today.
That is guaranteed to change in the months and years ahead. From better personalization to increased automation, better customer engagement to new possibilities we have not even imagined yet, artificial intelligence has quickly earned a seat at the digital marketing revolution’s table and shows all the signs of being a primary source ushering the movement into the future.
#4. Predictive technologies are driving higher conversions and allowing for better long-term lead nurturing.
Predictive marketing tools have been one of the most intriguing marketing technology developments of the last few years. Companies armed with high-quality data can make intelligent assumptions about lead activity based on existing data from the company’s data management software.
That has lead to better insights for lead generation, but it has also had a significant impact on demand generation efforts. Nurture campaigns extend beyond the conversion from lead to customer today. They reach well-beyond into the customer’s post-sale lifecycle, where predictive marketing tools can help identify upsell opportunities and help sales partners avoid losing customers based on behaviors indicative of potential churn.
There is still a lot of work to be done to truly see a shift in marketing efforts from the historically more important lead generation efforts to this new focus on post-sale marketing, which is why the use of these predictive analytics tools to help find revenue within a company’s existing customer base holds so much potential for the future of digital marketing. It could dramatically influence where marketers spend their time and resources for maximum effect.
#5. New consumer technologies continue to open doors to new marketing channels.
Finally, there is the way new technological developments outside the world of marketing are creating opportunities for new, innovative customer engagement strategies. “The Internet of Things” is estimated to have reached some 75 billion devices to-date. Wearable technologies and voice tools — like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri — are expected to be at the forefront of new marketing strategies in the months and years to come.
Despite the fact that Google attributes 20 percent of its searches to voice, 62 percent of all marketers have no strategy in place for voice search. That is indicative of perhaps the biggest reason digital marketing is here to stay; marketers have not even fully milked it for all it is worth yet. Marketing technology is developing at such a rapid pace that new tools, techniques, and strategies are emerging faster than most organizations can process.
With the immense amount of new technology on the market and exciting new developments on the horizon, digital marketing is here to stay and ReachForce is playing an active role in helping you access it.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization, and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean, and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.