A digital marketing postcard from San Diego
I had the good fortune to attend my first-ever Gartner Digital Marketing Conference in May in San Diego along with more than 2,000 marketing executives from all over the United States. It was great to get an overview of what’s top of mind for so many leaders and their marketing teams.
A few things really jumped out at me:
What a fantastic time to be a digital marketer. So many technology tools, especially AI, available to enhance customer engagement along with a growing lake of best practices and experiences with what really works.
What a challenging time to be a digital marketer. So many issues and concerns, such as privacy and trust (Facebook did us no favors), implementation of GDPR, and continued growth of value-based brand engagement. And don’t forget, the conundrum of which tools to use.
Every company has evolved to its own unique level of digital marketing capability. Gartner terms the phenomenon Digital Marketing Maturity and presented a couple of related frameworks that seem useful for framing a bigger picture of what’s possible.
No company seems satisfied with its current stage of evolution. This is important. Each company needs to evolve in the way that best suits their internal and external circumstances. But, those who move quickly, creatively, and effectively will create advantages.
Personalization tops many B2C companies’ lists of priorities. Although a segment-of-one approach is an aspirational goal, customers are both delighted and afraid to receive highly personalized communications. Delighted because I’m “known” as an individual by the brand and am more likely to receive relevant offers. Afraid because the brand seems to know a lot about me, but can I trust it not to misuse this information and protect my privacy?
Many B2B businesses are focused on account-based marketing, their twist on personalization. These companies are striving to marry digital capabilities with the face-to-face interactions that have historically typified and fueled the B2B business model.
Leveraging voice assistants is hot and growing dramatically, especially with search. I’ve also heard this during my client visits in Australia as well . At Resulticks’ solution showcase session, I demonstrated using Alexa for a consumer buying a product driven by an externally-triggered requirement (a replacement aircon filter driven by a heat wave). Still early days, but we think these types of digital marketing engagements will ramp up quickly.
Data and CRMs are proving to be big challenges. First, brands are asking what data should we be collecting; can we actually get the five levels of customer information needed to enable true personalization? Second, how do we go about getting this information, and finally, how best to store and access this information?
Machine learning/AI are increasingly important in teasing out the right insights. Predictive analytics (for example, projecting how well a campaign will perform) will help digital marketers optimize before running the campaign. The really exciting next step up, prescriptive analytics, will actually deliver recommendations on how to improve performance. Eventually I’m sure we’ll get self-created campaigns, but that’s probably over-the horizon as companies work to their data houses in order. Interestingly Gartner predicted that many data scientist/analyst positions will be phased out as that role is taken over by AI.
Interest in blockchain was very high. Digital marketers wanted to know how blockchain technology will change how information is shared and protected. The wider opportunity to share data among ecosystem partners is very exciting. To blow Resulticks’ own trumpet, our standing-room-only session on AI and blockchain was reported to be the best-attended non-Gartner session at the conference. Our presentation and lots of other related resources are available at https://www.resulticks.com/gartnerdmc/.
Finally, value-based brand loyalty is increasingly challenging for marketing in general. This seems especially true in the United States. The current phenomenon of increasing polarization of social and political views means that people may support or leave brands based on the degree of shared views and values. Gartner highlighted a number of companies that realized gains as a result of this, along with a number of companies that lost revenues because of their publicly stated values.
Were you at the Gartner DMC? What do you think about my observations? I’d welcome your comments and questions in this space.