Remember when organizations didn't really understand the value of a good marketing department? Marketing budgets were nominal and marketers were regarded as "creative types." They weren't bound to any real metrics or bottom-line results. As a sales leader, I've heard all the gripes and jokes that sales professionals make about their marketing counterparts. But no one's laughing now.
In the digital age, even CEOs are staying up-to-date on marketing predictions and trends. Gartner estimates that by 2017, chief marketing officers will spend more on technology than chief information officers. CEOs now rely on CMOs for strategic input more than anyone else on the executive team, outside of the CFO, according to IBM's Global C-suite Study.
While most business leaders know that marketing technology is key to winning and retaining customers, most organizations aren't yet prepared to play in the digital marketing big leagues. Just consider the following from IBM's in-depth CMO study. Of the 524 CMOs interviewed:
- 20 percent have set up social networks to engage with customers.
- 16 percent have integrated customer touch points across different channels.
- 13 percent have installed analytics programs to mine customer data.
- 82 percent feel underprepared to deal with the data explosion.
- Two-thirds are not ready to cope with social media.
With most companies still struggling just to get the groundwork in place, organizations that figure out innovative ways to leverage technology and marketing trends will come out way ahead.
As you're planning your technology road map for 2015 and beyond, here are five marketing predictions from industry insiders to keep in mind:
1) Mobile Will Matter Even More
"By 2016, $2.5 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants." —Gartner
Not only are your customers browsing, researching and shopping from their mobile devices, but even Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana are "reading" your emails and Web copy. If your digital content isn't optimized for mobile, and if you're not tapping into the unique customer engagement opportunities that mobile can offer, you're missing chances to reach your customers when and where they're most likely to buy. (Read "Lost in Translation: 5 Barriers That Distance Marketers from Customers.")
2) Wearable Devices Will Open Up a Whole New Marketing Channel
"Twenty-one percent of consumers own a wearable device, and 130 million more devices are expected to ship by 2018." —PwC
Wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch and Google Glass, offers another trendy and compelling way to reach mobile users. In fact, 45 percent of users want wearable tech to provide retail information and offers. With yet another mobile touch point to consider, creating a seamless multichannel marketing experience will be more important than ever. (Watch "Creating a Connected Customer Experience.")
3) Geo Data and Localization Will Enable Hyper-Relevant Content
"I believe we'll see a significant amount of retailers moving more activity toward more specific geo-targeted messaging solutions coming from branded apps, providing even more contextually relevant offers. I also expect to see more retailers leveraging hyper-local offers (within one mile) via Facebook and eventually even seeing more extreme local offers being delivered via beacons from within the store (within 60 feet)." —Eric Miltsch, president, Command Z Automotive Consulting
To deliver a truly personalized branding experience for your individual customers, it's no longer enough to just track what consumers are doing online. Now you need to know exactly where and when they're doing it. Customers who share location data can offer you great insights into their behavior, patterns and needs — information you can use to trigger content that really hits home. (Read "Leveraging the 'Geo-Factor': Using Mobile and Location Data to Drive Engagement.")
4) The In-Store Shopping Experience Will Get a Makeover
"Progressive brick-and-mortar stores will endorse geolocation-based mobile beacons as the way to deliver digital and mobile couponing to keep the in-store shopping experience from becoming antiquated." —Bill Sussman, president and CEO, Collective Biases
Imagine entering your favorite department store. As you walk by an item you recently placed in your online shopping cart, you get a push notification from the retailer's mobile app: "The sweater you currently have in your online shopping cart is right behind you. Buy now and get 10 percent off." Now that's personalization! Location-based communication devices, such as iBeacon, are not yet in widespread use, but as more retailers invest in ways to engage mobile customers when they're in or near brick-and-mortar locations, the in-store shopping experience will get a lot more interesting for customers and a lot more profitable for brands. (Read "Location Marketing 2.0 Arrives: The Impact of iBeacon.")
5) Brands Will Use Video in New and Interesting Ways
"Marketers will begin leveraging YouTube as a key medium within their mix. For too long, it's predominantly been a place to play TV commercials, and has been ignored by most marketers. But the opportunity for long-form content and performance targeting, in addition to YouTube's ability to develop custom features, makes a unique and exciting video experience for consumers." —Eli Singer, CMO, Engagement Labs
Reading is not everyone's preferred learning method. By including informative videos in your digital marketing strategy, such as thought-leadership content or compelling customer stories, you're putting a human face on your business and engaging customers who don't have the time or patience to read another blog or white paper. (Read "Get Looks and Leads with Video Marketing.")
For more marketing predictions from industry insiders, subscribe to my Twitter feed: @TMcCormick2011. I'm always sharing great articles and research from digital marketing experts and social-selling thought leaders. I'd also love to hear from you. What are your predictions for 2015 and beyond?
1) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Using Email to Drive Mobile Engagement – and Vice-Versa”
2) Blog: “Wearables: What Marketers Should Know About Activity Trackers, Smartwatches and More”
3) White Paper: “7 Key Marketing Trends for 2015 – and Tactics for Succeeding in the Year Ahead”