Not a week goes by where we in the marketing world hear the same old refrains: “marketing as we know it is dead”; “SEO is dead”; “the tools you’ve relied on for so long no longer work”.
While much of this doomsaying isn’t a lot more than hyperbole, there’s a core truth it contains: that marketing never stays the same. As algorithms shift; as technologies emerge; as the digital boundaries stretch further to increasingly large customer groups, it’s clear that marketing technology and the ways we think about how we reach clients are constantly evolving.
And so it’s always important to keep your finger on the pulse of MarTech. To this end, we’ve racked the brains of the best and brightest at MPULL, HubSpot and some of our partner agencies to figure out what you’ve got to know, right from the frontlines of MarTech.
MarTech companies themselves are also consolidating, buying each other and creating larger more powerful platforms incorporating more technologies. This relates directly to MarTech itself becoming a more broad field, expanding into different business functions, geared at giving a more holistic customer experience. Here’s what we dug up:
By now you’ve all seen these emails fill your inbox, as agencies worldwide change their operations to be compliant with European GDPR laws. However, it signals a monumental shift in the digital landscape: that the conversations around data and privacy are being had by more and more people, and now even nations and political powers are making moves to protect — or control — the flow of information and users’ private data. If you haven’t already taken a long, hard look at how your company deals with private user data, and how it protects it, you’re already falling behind. These kinds of conversations are becoming increasingly common in the online sphere, and with laws being introduced one by one to tackle data and privacy it’s imperative your company stays ahead of regulations and legal implementations as they could seriously affect your functioning.
It signals a move to more human-oriented operations in MarTech: that shift to accommodate the fact that users are people, with rights and dignity that should be protected. Your company needs to be more people-oriented — you’ll see why in a bit.
What MarTech and the complementary online marketing toolkit have proven to us is that the older forms of marketing need to adapt to new forces or risk extinction. Rather than argue about what coming technology will do to tried-and-trusted marketing strategies, companies should already be coming up with potential applications of new technology to enrich and bolster their tested and effective methods. Right now, we’re in a new era of convergence: hundreds of different product features — sales pipeline management, marketing reporting, social publishing tools, live chat, AI, you name it — are all coming to live under a single tool/infrastructure.
We’d love to hear what MarTech you have in your technology stack to bolster your traditional marketing methods:
As AVIVA WALSH, Channel Account Manager, HUBSPOT, pointed out "new technologies are being adopted more frequently to enrich traditional conceptions of marketing and create complex ‘one site for all your needs’ platforms"
As always, marketing technology agencies need to be continually aware of the effectiveness of their chosen strategies and methods, and be ready to adapt them to external changes. One pertinent example would be the discontinuation of HubSpot’s Keywords tool this year, as changes in Google’s search algorithm favoured topics instead of pure keywords.
“MarTech is making consumer insights measurable. The insights, gained through various techniques, can be tested, and optimised for better results. Even more important is that we can validate consumer insights through their online behaviour.”- Devin Ross, Senior Strategist MPULL
Of course, the old driving forces of the industry — Moore’s Law and huge user growth — are still around, meaning price points are slowly dropping even in the emerging markets suffering relatively slow growth (our home of South Africa included). It’s clear: MarTech is big, and growth in this sphere is near exponential. As Garth Pedersen, Head of Analytics, at MPULL noted, there’s currently an incredible uptake in MarTech and SalesTech in a diverse array of industries, with thousands of brands either building custom solutions or stacks from developed APIs, or MarTech giants using consolidation as a growth mechanic to create increasingly complex, multifunction digital platforms for increasingly large client groups".
However, the sometimes hefty prices of adopting new MarTech tools remains a great barrier of entry, and whether companies will adopt older cheaper technologies or splurge on the advancements to come remains to be a seen — it’ll likely be a fine balance subject to deep strategic nuance based on individual campaign needs.
“[The industry is] growing really fast, but the price point is still too high for a lot small of companies to use a lot of tools in their entirety. However I expect this to change.” — Shane Punt, Senior Analyst, MPULL
“MarTech providers are consolidating — buying each other and making bigger more powerful platforms — and right now there’s not a marketing tactic or channel that does not have a piece of technology to make it better” - Daryn Smith, Co- Founder, MPULL
As Devin Ross, Senior Strategist, at MPULL said, "there’s been a dramatic shift in consumer’s attitude and skepticism toward brands. In a strange way, Marketing Technology has underlined the importance of creating emotive and powerful brand communications that inspire brand recommendations of real individuals". Aviva Walsh adds that "interpersonal communications have made a comeback through conversational marketing. Your company needs to be able to have 1:1 conversations with leads at any point in their journey on a company’s website". This is especially important as CRMs become easier to use, shifting digital marketing strategies out of the IT Department and into the Creative Suite.
“Measuring and understanding the success of brand experiences is key to creating the exponential success of word of mouth. [These days] consumers are shifting to a space where they are more skeptical of brands, and in my opinion, consumer to consumer communications, based on real world and digital experiences consumers have had with a brand, is the most powerful marketing tool there is. - Devin Ross, Senior Strategist, MPULL
Thus, creative, personal and sincere forms of communication with customers are more effective than cut-and-paste brand slogans and generalised advertising. "MarTech brings your company the behind-the-scenes data you need to make effective choices; but only the power of your creative team can anticipate the context of messaging, timing and media to ensure a more human experience", says MPULL’s Creative Director, Clint Hendricks. Additionally, “creativity is the magic ingredient in the data pie, it is the star dust that lifts the strategy into orbit and the glue that makes every journey memorable.”
“In a world of noise the call for creative problem solving is even greater.” — Clint Hendricks, Creative Director, MPULL.
Nevertheless, MarTech’s demand for new and complex skill sets is clear. As Marketing moves out of an IT focus and into the hands of creatives and data crunchers, the skills that are most sought after are becoming more broad (from Data and analytics and technology analysts, to API developers and people who understand human journeys) with a desire for ‘figure out how it works’ attitudes. A common refrain at MPULL and at partner agencies is that hybrid tech/creative minds are in high demand: the ability to figure out what the data and metrics are saying, and coming up with ingenious ways to improve and optimise through captivating campaigns.
Those are just a few of the trends we’ve noticed. What do you think is the next big thing for MarTech as we move forward? Get in touch with using the form below, we'd love to hear from you. If you found this information interesting and want to read more, head over to our blog and don't forget to subscribe to get updates.