We are living in the Era of the Customer.
We don’t have enough data yet to know if this is a point of no return for traditional marketing, but we have definitely seen increasing evidence of technology supporting the work of industry professionals.
We are at a point in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer an optional but now a fundamental, a must-have to improve customer experience.
To fully understand how the current socio-economic context is changing, we must first put consumers under the microscope: they are different from consumers of the past, their digital maturity has made them more informed, multitasking and interactive.
Before making a purchase, 2.0 consumers research, browse, talk to relatives, friends, flit from channel to channel making it increasingly difficult for brands to understand their expectations, which have become multifarious and difficult to pin down, and then reach them, overcoming their frustration at traditional advertising and the feeling of being bombarded and sick of the hundreds of marketing messages the network sends out every day, to convince them of the reliability of their products/services.
We know, however, that customers leave trails behind them on their consumer journeys: this fingerprint is made up of data which is justifiably believed to be the new oil of corporate operations because it provides scientific analysis of purchase behavior and audience interests. A documented, data-driven strategy is vital to understand how to acquire and retain customers.
How does it work? Having multiple sources of information about our customers allows us to map their entire viewing journeys and there are huge advantages to be gained from this:
- it is easier to make predictions: knowing which channels your customers visit and what they are reading; how they behave and interact with the content proposed helps shed light on what they are likely to do in the short-term and shapes the strategy you need to put in place to reach and “surprise” them.
- messages can be customized: once you understand your consumers’ purchase behavior and the interests driving them, it becomes easier to customize the customer experience and boost engagement.
- more accurate customer profiles: CRM, with the input of this data, allows you to keep an up-to-date database of your users’ purchase behavior and interests, and therefore to send the right messages to the right people.
If you want to improve the customer experience offered, then you have to “listen” to your customers (and make them the heart of your decision-making). It can be difficult to do this on your own, but help is available from technology, which has been revealed to be an enormously powerful data collection funnel.
So, Marketing has become Martech (Marketing + Technology): more and more companies are adopting technological solutions for marketing purposes, incorporating them into their businesses to obtain 1st party data on their audiences without having to engage external services.
Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog (chefmartec.com) started writing a report in 2011, now known as the Martech 5000, which maps the Martech landscape on an infographic. Inside, it presents a selection of businesses which have excelled in terms of international influence and significance for the technology they have calibrated specifically for marketing objectives.
In recent years, we have seen a significant “plumping” of the number of organizations in the report, and this is a sign of how marketing is evolving and becoming increasingly customer-centric: from 150 in 2011, there are now more than 6000 providers this year. As Scott Brinker writes, we have moved away from the digital representation of customers, who were initially stylized figures, and towards a three-dimensional reproduction in which users now have a face and body. With technology, businesses are more able to embrace digital customers and can use the data extrapolated to give their customers customized experiences.
Content Intelligence, meaning the application of artificial intelligence to web content, has a key role to play in Martech. By helping brands understand and categorize content (all brands generate it), CI makes it more “intelligent” and receptive to the interests of the customers using it. CI therefore allows you to measure content performance and, with the resulting extrapolated data, improve audience targeting and get the right messages to the right people.
There are a variety of Content Intelligence solutions out there. Platforms like Atomich Reach uses machine learning logic to “control” content as it is being reported, so that it can be optimized before publication. Tools like BuzzSumo can identify which content feeds the buzz factor, what topics “perform better” in a given sector, and who the key influencers are, offering useful insights to set up more effective Content Marketing campaigns and SEO.
Ceralytics uses AI to identify the best-performing brand content and generates data that organizations can use to shape more powerful Content Marketing campaigns. Scoop.it Content Director analyses and make predictions about the content most likely to be interesting to your buyers - it investigates what would be more closely aligned to public tastes, combining keyword searches with the performance of content viewed. Curata software was designed to plan, produce and measure Content Marketing strategies: indeed, it traces all published content, measures how it is performing at each stage of the funnel, and creates user reports that help you to make business decisions that are data-driven.
The solutions mentioned so far are part of the “Content&Experience” category whereas OneSpot is the flagship product in the “Advertising&Promotion” category, helping brands to offer customized, multi-channel content experiences. Through CI, brands using OneSpot learn about content user models and can “perfect” their editorial strategies accordingly.
In the DAM & MRM section THRON makes its appearance. Its approach consist in obtaining the maximum value from all content through Content Intelligence, gathering data from Digital Assets in addition to the analysis of HTML pages. In this case we are dealing with a Content Intelligence tool with an integrated Digital Asset Management (optional); for those companies using both technologies, it means concretely getting value out of content, an improved efficiency in the productive processes, the achievement of consistency of the Brand’s messages across multiple channels, delivering the same version of each asset on different channels, and collecting data from displayed content about the interests of each person, thus measuring the editorial performance of every content and ensuring the best user experience thanks to recommended, personalized content.
The report, which is also useful to gauge the size of the global Martech market and help CMO’s get a feel for the best technological solutions available (and the top companies working with them) in order to keep pace with consumers, also highlights a constantly growing Martech population and widespread presence of CI software, reflecting the data-driven evolution of Content Marketing. How will this trend develop in 2019? We’ll have to wait and see.