October 1, 2021
By Leonard Klie – Destination CRM
Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are transitioning from last year’s focus on customer retention to now looking to new customer acquisition and growth as they navigate into a post-pandemic world, Gartner revealed in its latest Digital Marketing Hype Cycle report.
As the COVID-19 pandemic led many marketers to shift focus to pure customer retention strategies, it also brought an acceleration to digital transformations for many marketing organizations.
Now it is time marketers get back to customer acquisition and making an impact across the organization, according to Mike McGuire, vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice.
“The past year required moves toward embracing digital commerce, and marketing analytics has given marketers a newfound resiliency they lacked prior to COVID-19,” McGuire says. “This resiliency puts a spotlight on many maturing technologies and techniques, such as mobile marketing analytics, multichannel marketing hubs, and social analytics. Technologies with longer times to plateau, like artificial intelligence (AI) for marketing, will likely remain protected in marketing budgets given their long-term importance and the incremental value they will deliver over the midterm.”
In the report, Gartner identified six technologies that are having the most significant impact on marketers and their ability to drive new customer acquisition and growth.
AI FOR MARKETING
AI for marketing comprises systems that change behaviors, without being explicitly programmed, based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations for marketing use cases. AI for marketing promises to make insight generation and prediction faster, more accurate, and more actionable. For example, optimizing customer journey mapping, segment building, send times, and product recommendations are among AI techniques finding their way into multichannel marketing hubs and personalization engines.
Scaling content operations also benefits from AI-enabled techniques. During his Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo session, “All AI is Not the Same: What Marketing Leaders Should Know About Deep Learning,” Jason McNellis, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, noted how deep learning is a marketer’s most powerful way to extract insights from unstructured data and use AI to generate new content.
MULTICHANNEL MARKETING HUBS
The multichannel marketing hub (MMH) orchestrates company communications and offers to customer segments across multiple channels—from email and direct mail, to mobile, social, and website landing pages. This can also extend to integrating marketing offers/leads with sales for execution in both B2B and B2C environments.
MMH solutions are core to marketers’ efforts to build customer relationships, by unifying customer data and deepening audience insights. They also enable marketers to deliver personalization at scale and align customer, channel, timing, and content preferences.
Influence engineering refers to the production of algorithms to automate elements of digital experience that guide user choices at scale by learning and applying techniques of behavioral science. The abundance of data sources and machine learning capabilities enables new systems of influence and breakthroughs in areas such as emotion detection and language generation, showing clear potential to automate influential aspects of communication.
“Alongside profitable growth, businesses face growing demands to deliver on environmental and social goals, responsibly and transparently,” says Andrew Frank, distinguished vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.
CUSTOMER DATA ETHICS
Customer data ethics aligns business practices with moral and ethical policies that reflect companies’ avowed values. During the past few years, ethical concerns over customer data use has forced many companies to reevaluate goals and metrics used to train machine learning and measure success, Frank explains.
While modifying goals to account for social consequences and privacy-related data reductions might diminish short-term ROI on marketing initiatives, longer-term ethical oversight will minimize the risks of brands and enterprises becoming tainted by allegations of discrimination or ethical hypocrisy. This could yield benefits in customer, employee, and investor relations.
Event-triggered marketing is the process of identifying, prioritizing, categorizing, monitoring, and optimizing purposeful, event-driven conversations with audiences and customers. It helps marketers engage with their audiences at the right moments within specific contexts, increasing the probability of positive interactions.
In addition, event-triggered marketing could drive substantial increases in relevance for customers and business impacts for companies across the customer journey. It can improve customer acquisition by responding to product discovery behaviors; increase conversion rates in digital commerce; and help retain customers through integration into cross-sell and loyalty programs.
MOBILE MARKETING ANALYTICS
Mobile marketing analytics measure the interactions and behaviors of mobile website and application users, enabling marketing leaders focused on mobile marketing to optimize mobile experiences. Over the past year, time spent on mobile devices has been at an all-time high, and the wealth of data that this creates to analyze and act on is unsurpassed.
Still, with growing scrutiny around customer privacy, marketers must ensure that data collection practices conform to data-privacy regulations. Privacy concerns can be a barrier to mobile marketing initiatives from the perspective of consumer confidence as well as marketers’ risk appetite versus compliance.
One surprise change in this year’s Hype Cycle, though, was the positioning of artificial intelligence in the “Trough of Disillusionment.”
Gartner found that companies are now using both AI and machine learning more than ever. In fact, 52 percent of those surveyed said they were already using the technology, while 38 percent said they were in planning or piloting stages with it.
So why is it in the Trough of Disillusionment? Gartner says many marketers still struggle with AI, lacking the skills or resources needed to fully take advantage of it. Additionally, 73 percent of survey respondents said they find it difficult to trust AI and ML with important decisions.
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