Marketing Technology: 2016 in Review and what to focus on in 2017

It’s that time of year again when brands and marketers dust off their crystal balls and try to predict the coming year. Yes, this is one such blog too. But we have a different methodology: we are not putting out our opinion but our customer’s data to back our claims. We spoke to our customers to find out their area of focus in marketing technology in the year of 2017. And the results were interesting, to say the least.

First, let me give you the profile of our customers. They belong to Small and Medium sized business category, having employee strength of around 500-3500 and having annual revenues between $25 Mn – $500 Mn. Most of them are located in United States, Australia, Canada and UK.

We spoke to 452 such businesses to find out what was the concern when they started the new year and what will they focus on going into 2017, with respect to marketing technology, of course.

Here is a quick snapshot of their two answers:

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When SMB marketers started 2016, they were pretty focused on exploring mobile platform to reach out to their customers and be heard. In one of our blogs earlier this year, we have mentioned that a person checks his phone 85 times a day, on average. That is what was most intriguing for the marketers. The second area of focus was to use technology in automating marketing for their customers. This is interesting as we have seen our customers getting surprising results in winning new customers as well as gaining repeat customers, just by personalizing messages and sending them at the right time. Marketing automation offers tremendous opportunities when done right, maybe that is why it is the most focused area for marketers for the coming new year.

Let’s check out their shift in focus for the new year:

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Customer experience and personalization are the two most important focus points with all the marketers. That was redundant to be given as an option choice. Rather, we asked them what technologies are they focusing on to design amazing personalized experience for their customers. Here is a snapshot of the survey result:

Marketing Automation: Learned from the past, good marketing automation can create seamless and personalized customer experience by letting a platform deal with new and returning visitors. If you set your rules right, there’s no loopholes and your customers are entertained individually, one-to-one (which is the best experience your customers are looking for). So, the marketing automation technology will the primary focus of marketers going into 2017.

Mobile Marketing: Although slipped to the second spot as their focus, marketers just cannot put the mobile phones away. Well, who can? There’s a lot lot of opportunities for a marketers to reach its audience over the small screen device. Beside the traditional text SMS (which is still the most profitable way), they are taking on social media. Even social media companies are constantly updating their apps with new features that creates a good advertising platform. Did you think ‘Live’ feature on Facebook was introduced for the muggles like you and me?

Big Data: Isn’t it odd that we are still talking about big data in 2017? I guess, no. Still there’s a need to shake and filter customer’s behavior data to squeeze out most critical and actionable information. Marketers don’t want to lose out on any vital information about their customer that might cost them a deal. So, they turn to technology. Applications like FirstHive collect customer data and present most relevant information so that marketers can talk to customers with a right message at a right time.

Content Marketing: Marketers are ready to take content marketing more seriously in the coming year. As one of them said, “Just content cannot be the king, but a content in right context is the new king”, they know how important it is to create relevant content and share it with the prospects. Also, the form in which the content is served is important. Like going forward, videos will be the major form of content consumption. Videos have worked extremely well in the past for our customer, mainly because it’s more engaging, explanatory, fast and easy to consume.

Internet of Things: Imagine a world where everything in your view is connected to a single network. You will have single point of command over your stuffs. But that’s not the point. IoT brings tremendous marketing opportunity. If you are milk seller, and your customer’s refrigerator notifies you every time that they are running out of milk, won’t you love that. IoT, of course, is the next big thing, but still very nascent today. I expect marketers put more focus on this amazing technology next year.

AI and Chatbots: Very similar to marketing automation, artificial intelligence is gaining the limelight slowly. AI has a huge potential in terms of creating real-time customer experience. Take chatbots for example. Chatbots can talk to your customers as a real person and address to their queries quite fine. Again, Facebook messenger has this feature to provide you AI power. I can’t resist mentioning the Jarvis, the AI personal assistant, developed by Mark Zuckerberg, which takes the AI technology to another level and will be in the mainstream in next couple of years. Feels like Tony Stark already?

Search Engine Optimization: Talking about future, let’s not leave the past behind. SEO is still in the focus list of marketers and the fight to rank first continues. Getting visitors organically is good, both cost-wise and quality-wise. So, SEO thingy is not going to get off the list pretty soon. In 2017, try to keep your content relevant and use keywords which you think your customers use. Don’t flood your website with keywords and irrelevant content. That’s counter-productive since the search engines are getting smarter.
Do you agree with the views or have something else as your focus point in marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

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