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It’s an exciting time in marketing right now. Every week brings new technological advances and with them new opportunities. Cars can park themselves, and astronauts are creating wrenches in outer space using 3D printers. To stay ahead of the curve, marketers need to focus on what’s next and start thinking about how it could be useful for them.
Take a look at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to discover things that will amaze you. Connected cars were a prominent aspect of this year’s show. What do smart cars have to do with marketing? Well, some companies can now target drivers with unique promotions, according to USA Today. OnStar, a concierge service for GM vehicle drivers, recently created AtYourService. The platform delivers custom promotions via email when a driver requests directions to certain locations. It takes a tech-oriented perspective to see this as a marketing opportunity. But someone did. It remains to be seen whether AtYourService will take off, but the point is, in a connected world, marketing opportunities are everywhere.
Marketers rely on technology more and more in their day-to-day jobs. These sea changes are giving rise to new needs in companies and even creating new employment opportunities. Connected cars are just the beginning of how the Internet of Things could impact marketing. All of a sudden, devices that previously had no connection to the marketing world could potentially be harnessed by companies to reach customers. With new devices comes new data that can be used to more effectively reach prospects. Case in point: Cars can now give marketers geographical information in real time when a driver asks for directions to the nearest coffee shop.
There is wisdom to be gained from straddling a technology and marketing approach. Taking this perspective, companies can gain more insight into their customers than ever before. And this is important. As digital channels proliferate, customers have high expectations for service, and the truth is, most companies aren’t meeting them. The ability to access more data gives marketers the opportunity to be more customer-centric, to use channels that individual customers like to use, and to send messages that are more relevant to these individuals.
The term “customer-centricity” gets thrown around a lot. It’s a cool-sounding mantra, but most companies don’t put a formal strategy behind it. However, customer-centric marketing, whether you’re in the B2C or B2B sphere, can no longer be a phase. In the digital environment, customers control the buying process. But not only that, they expect you to understand them as individuals with unique preferences. These days, customer-centricity means maintaining data on individual prospects and customers and using that information to make more customer-focused campaigns and messages.
Basically, a true customer-centric strategy requires data and platforms that collect it from multiple touchpoints. To collect and organize data effectively requires know-how that not all marketers currently possess, which has created the need for new positions that bridge the gap between marketing and technology.
Not that long ago, most companies had never heard of marketing automation platforms. Now, the majority of forward-thinking companies are using them to develop relationships with leads earlier in the buying cycle. Needless to say, catching on to these trends early can make a big difference in your company’s success. These days, the ability to reach leads and convert more prospects relies on your familiarity with technology, your awareness of what’s out there, and your ability to harness these new platforms based on your company’s specific needs.
Companies that don’t invest in technology that enables them to harness customer data aren’t going to be able to keep up, and if you think things are moving fast now, you better hold onto your hat. A 2014 Accenture survey found that 78 percent of chief marketing officers think marketing will undergo fundamental change over the next five years. Another key finding: By 2019, digital budgets will account for 76 percent of the marketing budget overall.
As digital takes a bigger bite out of budgets and company focus, customer-centricity becomes a more important way of doing things for marketers. How does one balance all of these duties? With the need for knowledge of both marketing and serious technology know-how comes the rise of new marketing positions, namely, the chief marketing technologist. This person has a greater familiarity with the marketing technology that’s out there and combines it with marketing knowledge, using this information to determine how best to use the platforms that are available to improve marketing campaigns.
The CMT goes under many names, like “global head of marketing technology” or “business information officer for global marketing.” However companies prefer to title the position, the CMT does the following:
CMTs are technology marketing gurus. They’re visionaries. They experience and encourage experimentation in their cohorts. Harvard Business Review projects that by 2016, 89 percent of large companies will have someone in this role.
Even if you’re not one of the big business that already has a CMT, there’s a lot to be learned from this shift. What can all marketers learn from the rise of CMT? It’s simple. Technology moves quickly. Not only do you need your team to be on top of what’s happening now, you need to have the foresight to jump onto new trends before they get ahead of you. There’s a whole new world of data coming, and companies are going to find new ways to harness it and personalize customer experiences even more effectively. Investing in superior tech platforms opens the door to more data, which means a more complete picture of your customer. But without the foresight to implement the best new tools, companies will fall behind competitors that can.
There’s a technology revolution underway, and marketers are at the forefront. Preparing for this environment may be a challenge, but also an opportunity. It’s time to take advantage of it.
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