Turn the “Top Trends for 2018” into a practical, plan of action

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by Redickaa Subrammanian

January 24, 2018

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Every year around this time, the industry pundits all come out with their lists of the trends that will shape digital marketing over the coming 12 months. This year is no exception, and the lists are generously peppered with buzzwords like seamless journeys, personalization, artificial intelligence, IoT, omnichannel, and so on.

After 20-plus years in the profession, I know one thing for sure about those trends lists: they’re absolutely meaningless if marketers don’t turn them into action items and then execute on them Furthermore, some of those trending buzzwords have been around for several years now, with many of them still misunderstood. It’s no wonder then that our Marketing Flab to Fab survey revealed widespread buzzword fatigue among marketers.

Master Data Platform: I would also argue that acting on this year’s trends will be virtually impossible unless marketers get their data act together first. Without a strong master data or customer data platform, brands will never realize that elusive unified customer view they require, nor the individualized, contextual communications and seamless customer journeys that depend on it.

GDPR: And speaking of data, the elephant in the room may very well be GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation adopted by the European Union, which goes into effect this year and imposes stringent requirements on customer data protection and privacy. GDPR applies well beyond EU countries to include all companies that deal with profile data of EU residents. Compliance is mandatory, and many brands are nearing a panic state, not unlike that witnessed with Y2K at the turn of the 21st Century.

Data Security: From GDPR it’s not too broad a leap to the legitimately grave concerns about data security. We continue to see major brands—Target, Equifax, and Uber just to name a few—go into crisis mode with revelations about major data breaches. Not to excuse such lapses, but in all fairness, brands are challenged by consumers who expect seamless, totally personalized digital experiences and, at the same time, demand absolute protection of their privacy. Finding a way to achieve both is more than a marketer’s dilemma, it’s a business imperative.

Digital Identity Management: Thankfully, everything about 2018 isn’t doom and gloom. Our clients are very excited about advances we’ve made in digital identity management and marketing blockchain. In terms of the former, the ability to recognize an individual and to sustain continuity of engagement across channels—even before login—is rife with possibilities for marketers. Banking and financial services marketers have been particularly interested.

Blockchain: And as for marketing data blockchain, we’ve definitely taken a leadership role in empowering marketers with the capability to access and augment profiles and leverage audience insights in new ways, all the while ensuring regulatory compliance and individual privacy protection. Clearly, this is the key to opening up new, yet secure opportunities to hyper-target contextually relevant communications, and engage with customers in a deeply personalized way.
No discussion of this year’s “trends” would be complete without at least a mention of AI, IoT, and digital assistant marketing. Even with all the possibilities they offer, a cautionary word is in order. Little value will be gained by pursuing any of them without a solid data integration framework in place or a clearly defined connection to the purchase lifecycle.

So, while all those trends lists can make for informative reading, more importantly, they can also serve a very practical purpose: a springboard for action in the new year.

If you’d like to explore in more detail how to focus and prioritize your plan of action, Resulticks can help. Contact [email protected]