We have spent a lot of time recently discussing the changing role of the Chief Marketing Officer, with a heavy emphasis on how technological advances are shaping the role of marketing.
Gartner’s PDF “Predicts 2017: Marketers, Expect the Unexpected“ [link opens full PDF] report reinforced the influence of technology on marketing by declaring five predictions on how tech will shape the future.
The following is a look at the five key trends and predictions from Gartner, along with insights and examples of how they relate to the current world of marketing and the impact they will have in the near future on lead generation techniques and other critical marketing and sales activities.
Pay close attention to how your company should react to these changes to set your business up for success in the future.
Moving Away from Mobile Apps
One of the most surprising developments that Gartner predicted was that 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps by 2019.
Ironically, Gartner made this prediction toward the end of a boon in mobile app development. As often happens, though, many brands rushed to make an app available to the marketplace only to keep up with competitors.
The problem is they sometimes failed to consider the costs and return on investment. Failing to establish measurable outcomes to evaluate results has been another common error.
A lot of brands are not getting the adoption, usage, engagement, response and return on investment results they expected when they jumped head-first into the competitive pool of mobile apps.
Over the next few years, Gartner anticipates that large brands are going to take time to calculate returns and determine whether a shift in strategy and features could pay off. If not, some will cut their losses and move away from their apps.
How You Should React: If your brand is not evaluating engagement and ROI for its apps, it should be. If you are achieving results that you expect, continue to stay on top of the marketplace trends as consumer needs and expectations evolve. What people like today can easily change tomorrow. To benefit from an app, it must offer distinct features and benefits that users can’t get from your website or other sources. This approach is what drives usage, engagement and returns. The more agile and adaptable your strategy, the more you can keep your app fresh and current.
If your brand is among the sizable portion of firms that Gartner feels may need to abandon a conventional mobile app, consider one of the alternatives they suggest, such as mobile wallet cards, progressive web apps and instant apps.
These are standard tools that consumers like and are familiar with, and they normally require less investment and maintenance on the part of your company to make them viable.
Improved Advertising Delivery in Lieu of Ad Blockers
Gartner believes that advertisers and ad-blocking software developers will come together to create an environment where users can select ad-viewing preferences that filter what they see. As a result, the prediction is for a 50-percent increase in advertising effectiveness by 2019.
In the current climate, brands have become frustrated with the arbitrary way in which ad-blockers used by consumers disrupt ad delivery. The inability to anticipate the level of blocking and evaluate its impact negatively impacts projected engagement and return on investment.
Moving forward, Gartner believes that brands are going to turn to unconventional ad delivery strategies that evade the most common ad blockers.
Native ads, which are embedded more naturally within editorial content, are expected to account for almost two-thirds of mobile display ads by 2020. The trend toward native advertising is partly to avoid ad-blocker detection, but also to attract more attention from users.
As brands become smarter, developers of ad-blocking software may have to consider a role that does more to bring brands and users together. Tech users have indicated in recent surveys that they accept ad exposure for preferred products and brands. Thus, software programs should improve their capabilities to get away from arbitrary ad filters and integrate more preferential delivery.
How You Should React: The best thing your company can do is to place high importance on user privacy and security in your approach to ad delivery and data-tracking. Data is vital to your ongoing efficiency in targeted marketing, but you need to blend that with user privacy concerns. Look for ad servers and social media platforms that allow for ad delivery based on traits, interests and behaviours of the audience. By doing so, you connect with a more interested audience and improve your budget efficiency.
Privacy segmentation is another possibility. Some buyers are more concerned with privacy than others. Thus, adapting your communication channels and messages to align with each segment’s level of concern makes a lot of sense. Above all else, operate with transparencies. Don’t try to hide data collection from your customers. Tell them what you collect and how you use it. When the marketplace understands the economic value gained from data acquisition and precise ad message content, the general disdain for advertising dissipates.
Equally, by personalising your advertising you are reducing irrelevant ads, giving users an option to discover new products, while also making the buyer journey easier.
Increased Shopping Via Augmented Reality
Gartner says that 100 million consumers will use augmented reality to enhance their shopping experience by 2020. This prediction aligns with a fast-evolving trend in which retailers are infusing more digital technology in their brick-and-mortar stores to optimise the in-store experience.
Despite advances in e-commerce, the vast majority of consumer purchases still occur in a physical store. Historically, many customers would research online before visiting a store. This disconnected process adds to the total time it takes to get the desired products and services. By integrating digital tools into the store, companies create a more seamless, efficient experience. Customers enjoy using the technology and want to be able to combine the best of both worlds to meet their needs.
Augmented reality is a great fit in stores when the business can give customers a better vision of how products fit into their home or lifestyle. For instance, a person shopping for furniture can experience the look and feel of having pieces in their home before committing to a purchase. Lowe’s was an early innovator with AR through its in-store navigation tool, launched in early 2017, called Vision. Using the tool, customers can more easily identify the products they need from the store to complete home projects, research reviews and other information, and the follow the indoor map to locate the items. The AR is intended to improve accuracy and efficiency in product selection.
How You Should React: Just as retailers need to consider whether AR can help eliminate obstacles in the consumer’s buying experience, B2B providers benefit from assessing how they can provide technology or support to business buyers. Successfully partnering with companies involves significant infrastructure and resource allocation to get familiar with the dynamics and needs of the partner firm and its consumers. Soon, businesses that don’t offer significant digital tools to enhance the in-store experience will pale in comparison to top brands that do.
Avoid the temptation to copy what industry players already do, as this won’t help your brand and experience stand out from the crowd. Instead, research what buyers want and deliver it to them in an impressive way.
More Virtual Agent Involvement in Commercial Interactions
The majority of commercial interactions will involve a virtual agent by 2020, according to Gartner. We have recently discussed the impact of artificial intelligence in marketing. This category of technology is changing how companies track data on prospect and customer interactions, and how they communicate with the marketplace.
Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft are among some of the leading companies already offering their customers access to AI conversations. The complexity of setting up and managing AI interactions with customers is one of the biggest challenges facing many businesses and marketing departments in the near future. It is expected that marketers will often turn to expert partners to facilitate their virtual interactions with customers.
How You Should React: At this point, infusion of AI into marketing communication is limited to a small number of large companies. However, as Gartner predicts, the train is picking up speed in this direction. Thus, your first main impetus as a company is to become familiar with the capabilities of AI technology and how it might positively influence your industry, business and customers.
Developing a culture that supports knowledge AI and available tools sets the stage for your ability to integrate technology and solutions in the near future. Alternatively, it prepares your company to collaborate with a virtual agent.
CIOs Will Increasingly Report to Marketing
We have provided a number of insights recently about the technology revolution that has redefined the role of marketing and the Chief Marketing Officer position. The importance of technology in marketing is so significant that Gartner suggests 20 percent of Global 2000 CIOs will report into marketing departments by 2020.
In some firms, marketing is now more dependent on technology than the information technology function. Thus, 81 percent of Gartner survey respondents reported the use of a hybrid Chief Marketing Technologist role or something equivalent. An alternative is to restructure your corporate hierarchy such that CIOs report to the top marketing officer, as is the case with companies like Marriott International and Delta Dental.
How You Should React: As a cutting-edge provider, you may already have a reporting structure that recognises the increased role of technology in marketing. If not, prioritise strategic planning time to review the alignment of your technology and marketing functions to your business objectives. You might find that doing so allows you to operate leaner while optimising the relationship between your top tech and marketing leaders and their teams.
As you hire new executives or team members, look for professionals that have a strong blend of marketing acumen and tech skills. This hiring approach improves your chances of building a culture that operates with efficiency and quality when leveraging technology.
But What About Blockchain?
Yes, I am as surprised as you are that blockchain was missing from Gartner’s list. I only found 2 fleeting references to it in their report, both in relation to smart contracts.
Blockchain is going to change the world we live in, according to CBInsights report – Banking Is Only The Beginning: 30 Big Industries Blockchain Could Transform.
And marketing is going to play a massive part for all industries involved.
If you are new to blockchain, I highly recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and watching the TEDx talk below from Dan Tapscott of The Blockchain Research Institute in full. If you don’t have time for that, the best explanation I have found is from Sally Davies:
“[Blockchain] is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currency is just one.”
The marketing function is evolving at a lightning fast pace with regards to technology. To keep up, your company must leverage the capabilities of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other technologies to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
By recognising these major trends identified in the Gartner report and adapting your strategies to suit, you and your buyers are more likely to benefit from the changes taking place.
Ignoring these predictions likely means that by 2019 or 2020, you will face a severe discrepancy in meeting the needs of your customers relative to the competition.