PR, marketing and advertising have been changing for years—propelled to new heights by the rise of the Internet, mobile devices and social platforms. Traditional outreach has fallen flat for years and trends are in favor of online, digital and visual means of connection.
In response, marketers have evolved (and improved) their tactics, toolbox and methodology to stay relevant and successful in their practice. They have mastered new skills and updated internal structures to support evolutions along the way, but even greater changes are yet to come.
As such, we are in need of a new playbook to help us remain relevant, and continue to engage with our increasingly tech-savvy and always available audiences.
Statista (@statistacharts) recently polled marketing professionals on the most widely recognized challenges felt within the industry. Respondents noted a need to remain up to date with current marketing technology and trends as one of the largest keys to marketing success in 2015.
On March 25, the Cleveland HubSpot User Group met to discuss three digital marketing trends gaining attention:
- The convergence of marketing, sales and customer service;
- Contextual marketing and personalization; and
- Automation and artificial intelligence.
Read on to learn how they will affect the marketing landscape in 2015 and beyond.
The Convergence of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
More than 40% of marketers agree—it’s time to tear. down. those. silos!
Your customers see your brand as a single entity—not three disparate teams. If your team is looking at your customers as three separate profiles, or if teams are three different, disconnected units, then you’re probably in trouble.
The customer journey is no longer a linear path—it has multiple touch points and communications that combine to create a unified experience. Knowing this, marketing, sales and customer service teams need to create open dialogue, share customer data and develop a consistent brand strategy that carries throughout the customer journey.
Silos create a disconnected customer experience and hinder business performance. When the core teams responsible for customer communications create and execute different messaging, strategies and processes, the customer experience suffers. As a result, you run the risk of distributing mixed or inconsistent messaging, as well as disconnected expectations, services and results. This not only frustrates the customer, but it creates internal power struggles, loss of customer data and decreases the potential to drive results.
Find ways to open up communication channels among your teams to create one, cohesive and impactful customer journey. HubSpot offers a variety of features to keep everyone on the same page, including:
- CRM integration options to connect marketing activities with robust customer journey profiles.
- Integrated email tools like Sidekick, which deliver insights around client and company history straight to your inbox.
- The ability to designate notifications by role within one central portal.
Contextual Marketing and Personalization
Forbes (@Forbes) touted personalization as “the secret to better customer experience” and Forrester (@Forrester) reported that, “70% of executives believe personalization is of strategic importance to their business” … a year ago.
If your marketing campaigns are not targeted to specific persons at each stage of the funnel, then you’ve fallen behind.
Here’s how you can better target and personalize content for your buyer personas with HubSpot:
- Take advantage of personalized property fields.
- Host smart modules and smart form fields on your site that alter in appearance / content served based on each user’s previous site interactions.
- Plan content campaigns with the customer journey in mind. Set up workflows based on customer behavior or critical touch points.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
In this new age of content, context and the customer experience, our goal as marketers is to create more value for people, more often and throughout the entire customer journey.
With so much data to explore, there is no possible way a human could gather, access and act on all information collected on their customers without error or enormous teams to support them. We’re only human, and thus limited by our abilities, context, knowledge and time.
But what if marketers weren’t limited by finite abilities, resources and tools?
Automation tools enable marketers to gather improved intelligence, tell better client or customer stories and turn over repetitive tasks to technology.
Here’s how HubSpot is marrying data and technology to your advantage:
- Lead nurturing workflows that streamline tasks, allow for simple duplication and fast implementation. Tasks that previously took hours to execute can be complete in a matter of minutes.
- Recommended social schedules. Times adapt based on your timeline’s historic interactions with shared content. Help your company reach its audience at peak hours for content consumption.
- Robust reports that offer insights into every page, click and interaction marked with HubSpot’s tracking code. Take these insights and build context around them. Data analysis needs to be at the top of your team’s list of core competencies.
And reports and scheduling are just the start of what could be coming for marketers—enter artificial intelligence (AI).
AI has vast potential to revolutionize the way core industries perform. Companies we interact with daily, including Netflix, Amazon, UPS, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Microsoft are already exploring what’s possible with AI.
When used to assist professionals in a variety of trades, automation and artificial intelligence have more than a few neat applications, including:
- Sports articles and AP financial reports are already written by machines. Data-driven content developed through complex algorithms saves enormous amounts of time for reporters. This frees up time for professionals to focus on the more creative and humanized elements of their art.
- UPS carriers rely on AI to create the most efficient, optimal routes based on a moving algorithm and prioritization. In beta launch, driver route software ORION helped UPS “save 3 million gallons of fuel” with projections to “save $50 million by taking just one mile off each of its driver’s daily routes” by 2017.
What are the limits for AI use by marketers and content creators in the very near future? Only time will tell, but project possibilities are popping up in spades.
Take These Tools and Tackle the Trends
Those that adapt to the evolving industry landscape will thrive. Be prepared for what’s to come, and arm your team with the knowledge, resources and culture to be ever-curious for a better way.
Start with a tech assessment. Are you leveraging the software systems your team has in place to their fullest potential? Experiment with features A/B testing, and consider how your own teams could streamline and automate within existing processes.
Staying informed on the latest technologies and approaches to marketing will enable you to expand expertise, adapt to new ideas and needs, and stay ahead of the game.
Did you miss the event? Below is a copy of the complete slide deck.
How is your marketing team tackling some of 2015’s top digital marketing trends? How is HubSpot helping you overcome modern marketing challenges? Share with us in the comment section below.