Top Growth Marketing Trends for 2017

With the new year upon us, marketers scramble to put new plans into action while also identifying where we should place more of our efforts and resources. We ask ourselves where can I get the most “bang for the buck” for our organizations. We are looking to grow our current user base while also retaining more of our hard acquired customers.

Publications and journalists, including Forbes, MarketingLand, and others, have surveyed marketers about what they think the biggest needle movers in marketing are going to be in 2017. Of these surveys and conversations, here are the top 6 Growth Marketing Trends for 2017 backed by industry leading CMO’s who are betting big on them. For Growth Marketers, keeping users engaged will be a driving focus for 2017 as a stronger focus on retention becomes a guiding theme with unified, delightful customer experiences powered by powerful technologies.

1. Big Data (in real time and actionized)

Steve Fund, CMO of Intel said, “data is becoming the currency of marketing, and marketers will now have access to more data than ever…marketers will be able to use data to create more personalized and targeted products, messages, and customer engagements than ever before.”

Number 1 on the list = Big Data. (I know, Big data may seem like “yesterday’s news”, but bear with us) For this article we define big data to include real-time data, customer insight, and big data marketing applications. Big data tops our growth marketing trends because the volume of data coming in from consumers continues to increase year after year (be it from explicitly shared data to tracked behavior data), resulting in a rise in the importance of data scientists and data platforms. Data is the building block, the foundation, of customer identity and behavior that powers machine learning models and various marketing applications. As growth marketers, we’re looking to actionize this data faster and faster. Insights are great, however, we need ways to slice and dice the data manually and automatically to really affect our bottom line. In 2017, we’ll see more of the power of this data being wielded by marketers quickly and more easily than ever to create better experiences for every individual…and to build predictive models.

 

2. Artificial Intelligence & Predictive Analytics (for richer individual experiences)

Karen Walker, senior VP and CMO at Cisco elaborated “The key in 2017 will be transforming and analyzing data in order to derive contextual conclusions about our customers. What are they interested in? What needs can we anticipate? From consideration, to purchase, to renewal–it’s about delivering a richer, meaningful, individualized experience that helps our customers make faster, more educated decisions and deepens customer loyalty.”

AI has become incredibly powerful and accessible with the influx of more data over the years and the rise of more sophisticated technology. 2017 will see AI cement itself in the growth marketing space. The ability of machine learning to predict trends in customers and make complex recommendations across product/content categories has given many retailers the edge over the rest. For media companies, machines will curate the content to include in newsletters, onsite, and in app, transforming generic content feeds into timely, personalized content “magazines”.

To get this next level of understanding, growth marketers use predictive analytics to make sense of the scores of customer data to create actionable workflows and customer journeys that allow for the non-linear customer journeys that growth marketers are trying to tackle with legacy automation.

 

3. Marketing Automation (becomes smarter)

The CMO of Ally, Andrea Riley, said that their attention will be on “understanding, at a customer-level, personas, needs, wants and preferences and delivering them in a meaningful way through the channels they prefer to be communicated in.”

Marketing automation includes CRM, behavioral email marketing, web personalization, multi-channel messaging, triggers, and more. This encompasses a large portion of the marketing landscape and why it’s in our top 3. Seeing from this research on the State of Marketing Automation there is a lot of room for improvement in this area. Marketing automation isn’t going anywhere, instead, it is becoming smarter and flexible to incorporate real time triggers, catalog updates, and predictive analytics that drive users through funnels and increase user retention.

In the chart below, 2 out of 3 marketers state they aren’t even using their marketing automation platform to its potential (intermediate level and below). It’s time to review your use of your marketing automation technology to see if (1) there is any more juice you can get from it and (2) if it’s time to think about a change. A tool that isn’t being used has no value to the organization if it remains “rusting away” in the toolbox. (For the 18% who don’t use any marketing automation, it’s time to step up.)

Image from Scott Brinker as he talks about the changing roles of Marketing Automation

In all transparency, this is where Blueshift’s Programmatic CRM shines the brightest. Our technology enables growth marketers to become more customer-centric and leverage real-time behavioral data to reach every customer on an individual level throughout all marketing channels. Bringing Programmatic CRM into your marketing stack takes you to the highest level of sophistication with your “marketing automation” enabling you to automate the delivery of consistent and delightful user experiences on every channel with true scalability and greater results.

 

4. Content (becomes more personal)

The CMO of Grubhub said that moving forward companies will have to “establish a lasting and meaningful connection with consumers” to stay on top of mind and build loyalty among their customers.

Content has evolved from simple text on a website to richer, more visual content such as videos, slides, infographics, etc. Now we are witnessing the next form of content marketing that involves using personalized marketing technology to deliver the right content to the right person with interactive content on responsive web pages, emails, apps, and more. Often, marketers create mountains of content that quickly gets buried, even when it is still relevant or simply worth-the-read –  the problem has always been getting that content to the right consumer at the right time.

Image from Scott Brinker as he talks about the 4th Wave of Content Marketing

Personalization requires data about the prospect in order to make educated guesses about their interest and feed them relevant content. More and more companies are taking a strategic approach to their content creation and distribution along with closely measuring content marketing ROI to make sure they are moving in the right direction. As Growth marketers, we use content everywhere. Making it more personal through recommendations and affinities creates that delightful user experience that creates loyalty and trust that inhibits churn.

 

5. Mobile Marketing (driving greater engagement and retention)

The CMO of Keds, Emily Culp mentioned that she is “constantly evaluating our UI and ensuring that we are delivering not only a brand rich experience but also one that is streamlined enabling a clear path to purchase.”

Research from last year shows that conversion rates are significantly lower on smartphones. It’s no wonder that we see great potential still to make a big impact with mobile marketing by making the user experience less “SPAMMy” and more conversational, more relative, more personalized. When I say mobile, I mean more than just smartphones. Many devices can be involved in this process so treating it as part of a multi-platform or multichannel strategy is more appropriate. I see mobile as being a complementary channel to the overall marketing strategy. Part of the mantra of “being where your customer is” involves reaching out to customers where they are, rather than waiting for them to come back to you. That means being on their tablet, or phone, or laptop with a consistent message that adds value and delivers a personalized experience.

Bring consumers back to your branded properties (including apps and websites) with rich push notifications that include deep lining into your app, images, and even carousels of suggested products/articles from them to read. And don’t forget about SMS messages. The goal is to drive them to engagement and the desired action. Mobile will keep your users and customers engaged and drive higher retention rates when approached intelligently. Mobile optimized sites are now table-stakes. Designing for a mobile-first experience is now expected.

 

 

6. Social Media Marketing

Obviously, social media marketing still has significant weight when talking to marketers but be mindful of what platforms you choose to play in. Statistics show the reduced popularity of some social networks in some countries, i.e. Twitter and Facebook are in decline or plateauing in many western countries while Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are still growing in usage. Being particular about your spend and the ROI you get is more important now than ever as many platforms now require a “pay to play” business model to get the reach needed to have an impact. Your customer experience extends across all channels and must drive greater adoption and retention.

 

Conclusion:

So, how does a Growth Marketer begin to make sense of these trends?

In short – stay customer focused. Remove channel barriers. Remove fragmented data sets. Leverage technology anywhere you can to drive results quicker and at scale.

References:
  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferrooney/2016/12/19/heres-what-will-command-cmos-attention-in-2017/#7d0470b59758
  2. http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/marketing-innovation/digital-marketing-trends-2016-2017/
  3. http://marketingland.com/4th-wave-content-marketing-marketing-apps-84108

Personalization Will Make or Break Holiday Season Campaigns

Customers demand respect from retailers. They ask simply for organizations to remember who they are as an individual consumer from a transaction and a behavioral perspective — otherwise, they are likely to purchase less frequently, or, more than likely, churn to a competitor who does understand them and communicate with them better at that individual level.

Personalize, personalize, personalize!

This has been the mantra of marketers looking to communicate with their customers at a highly relevant and engaging way. According to the latest report by Accenture covered by MediaPost:

  • 56% of respondents acknowledged they were more likely to shop at a retailer that recognized them by name
  • 65% of consumers expressed a preference for retailers that remembered their purchase history
  • 58% of respondents were more likely to shop at stores that offered relevant recommendations based on past purchases or preferences

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The need for smarter cross-channel personalization…

It’s important to point out that marketers are being asked to personalize across all channels, not just one or two. In fact, as the Accenture report highlighted, less than 50% of consumers completed a purchased based on an on-site product recommendation. The perpetually connected consumer now enters the buying cycle from a number of channels and touch points: email, Facebook, SMS, mobile push notifications, in-app personalizations, and numerous others.

And forget about flooding a consumer with a higher number of product recommendations. The “Quantity over Quality” tactic is similar to annoying batch and blast techniques used within emails by out-of-touch marketers. Filling a page or a communication with a dizzying number of recommendations only annoys and splits the buyers attention away from products that they are more likely to purchase. According to the report, almost 40% of respondents admitted to abandoning an online shopping experience altogether because of an overwhelming choice of recommendations

The “Burden of Choice” is in the hands of the brand. Brands must serve only the best recommendations to the right person built through predictive algorithms that sift through the dozens or even hundreds of “best products” that could be delivered to the consumer and transform that into the best few.

Read the full article on MediaPost.

 

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Obama on Technology, AI and an Optimistic Future

President Obama chatting with Ito and Scott Dadich

President Obama chatting with Ito and Scott Dadich

“This year, Artificial Intelligence will become more than just a computer science problem. Everybody need to understand how A.I. behaves.”

Recent advances in computer science and AI (more specifically advances in building and running large convolutional neural networks) have given a fresh fodder to the age old debate on how technology is replacing workers and making us all obsolete. The current political climate only amplifies the anxiety and generates FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about our collective future. So it’s very refreshing to see President Obama re-framing the discussion in this Wired article and talking about common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems. If one can ignore the media hype and peek below the surface there are real opportunities to build solutions to many seemingly intractable problems.

Machine learning, data mining and deep learning techniques can nudge us to lead healthier lives, change our habits and build stronger communities. Imagine AI powered tools that remind us in context of whatever we are doing in our daily lives to consider factors that we may have missed, overcome biases in thinking fast and slow, present information in ways that helps us build better financial portfolios that are in our long term interests, prevents us from being defrauded or phished or scammed online, helps us communicate with every one one the planet crossing language boundaries and more. That’s the optimistic future we can aspire to and it’s refreshing to see this possibility being talked about.

President Obama chatting with Ito and Scott Dadich

Read the full article on Wired.com