Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Marketing may have entered the golden age of data, but the future will be about software driving data and marketers acting as customer relationship navigators, Marketo’s founder and CEO claims.
During the opening keynote of the Marketo Marketing Nation conference in San Francisco, Phil Fernandez pronounced the era of mass media and planned email campaigns “dead” and said the future is about engaging and building trust with customers off the back of data.
But while it’s clear CMOs today have access to more data than ever before, diving into that growing pool of information isn’t going to be possible without technology and automation.
Fernandez pointed to self-driving cars as an analogy for what the future of data-driven marketing needs to look like. While there is a wealth of data behind the self-driving car, drivers aren’t trying to get their hands on it or understand what each data point tells them, he said.
“Drivers plug in the destination and let the car doing the driving,” Fernandez said. “We need to have that same role as marketers – with big data, machine learning, predictive analytics – and move to a world where we set the goals for our customers, then let the system figure out how to listen, what channel to listen on, how to make sense of what people are saying, how often to communicate with people, and what channel to communicate with people with.”
Modern marketers need to take a context-based approach and embrace “engagement marketing”, Fernandez said.
“The trouble with mass advertising is we have brought out the nuclear weapons at this point: We keep doing it, but it’s ringing false,” he commented. “We’ve taken the same ideas and put these onto the Web. This isn’t engagement or building a relationship, it’s just irritating customers.
“It will be a long death but this idea of trying to reach consumers by getting louder and more emotional just isn’t going to work.”
Fernandez explained engagement marketing as building long-term relationships based on trust. To do this, marketers need to listen and respond at “every arc of the customer lifecycle”, rather than try and draw their own map based on what they think customers will do, he said.
Modern marketing also isn’t just about securing a purchase, but renewing, upselling and upgrading.
“It’s not just about what we say but how, when, where we say it, and what the cadence is,” he said. “Today we still think about weekly lead nurturing campaigns, but in fact some people may want a lot of communication, or a combination of email and push mobile messages; some don’t want an email that often.
“We have to kill random acts of marketing. We still have to create compelling messages, but we have to come back to building relationships with customers and that takes time.”
Marketing with the Internet of Things
One emerging opportunity that could transform marketing further is the Internet of Things. Fernandez suggested connected devices like the Apple Watch, fitness trackers, digital thermostats and connected fridges are the new marketing channels.
“These will change content marketing,” he said. “Not everything is a conversation; it could just be a touch. Our mission as marketers is how to weave a journey and story across everything in our lives, and share our role with all of these devices and channels.”
This hyper-connected world could even see marketers putting personalised messages on a pill bottle for a particular consumer just as easily as sending an email today, Fernandez said.
“These new pallets are very exciting but requires significant change in way we organise marketing departments,” he warned. “We’ve been creating specialised marketing teams for mobile, social, but are you going to have specialists in pill bottles? We have to find different ways of doing this.
“It takes small steps... and will be more about smiles and winks along the way. We will have to design teams on arcs, not channels, then let the data do the driving.”
That requires a seamless experience regardless of platform or device, Fernandez said.
“None of us want different platforms in different parts of our lives. If we don’t create our marketing programs in context, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard,” he said. “We’re in a world where there are no secrets and no brand can hide. You have to think about how to take customers to that level of trust, intimacy and advocacy.”
With customer relationships becoming the most important assets to an organisation, Fernandez added that puts the CMOs in a very powerful position.
“You know what makes the customers tick; and that’s very strategic information,” he said. “Our future as marketers is to be the store to the customer and hold the most powerful position in the c-suite.”
Nadia Cameron travelled to Marketo Marketing Nation as a guest of Marketo.
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