1. Experience design is now becoming algorithmic and AI-driven
User experience is swiftly overtaking price as the most critical competitive differentiator. Also, digital experiences are increasingly designed and created by algorithms and AI. It all started with personalisation. When personalisation becomes sophisticated enough, the experience becomes different – it feels intelligent. An algorithm that learns. This is what the AI hoopla is all about. The rewards are the same as always for good marketing: CX, better retention, affinity, word of mouth and growth. AI in marketing promises that the UX will finally be freed from creative guesswork. The ability to continually optimise hyper-personalised experiences will not be the exclusive playground of the giant platform companies for very much longer.
2. Competitive edge is about Data Density
Data is also itself a differentiator. Your own data should have a proprietary value that is higher than your competitors’. It is yours, and by definition, it cannot be accessed by others, as opposed to third party data. Analytics, including AI algorithms, can be replicated. Dense proprietary data, well-managed and developed, create a competitive edge that is hard to beat. Your own data assets should make a difference in the competition. But then again, its value can only be realised through the analytics placed on top of it.
3. Algorithmic means automated
Algorithms only work with the automation of most of the things that used to be handled by inspired humans possessing special emotional talent. The billions of algorithmic UX outcomes cannot be conceived by a talented team using manual tools and processes. Systems of intelligence are doing the algorithmic math, and interaction systems (formerly called marketing automation) are doing the execution. The talented marketeer is the creator, business planner, implementer, operator and governor of these systems.
4. The CMO has a long-term talent challenge
Many CMOs face a challenge with their in-house resources – in any given organisation, a large proportion of marketing employees do not have the competencies that can deal with rapid change in the digital marketing environment. Marketing talent design should be high up on the CMO’s HR agenda. Talent strategies need to be beefed up in order to attract, develop, retain and organise a wide range of new skill sets, ranging from storytelling to AI.
In the US, most companies will have an in-house agency by 2019 (64%, up from 42% in 2016). The standard client-agency relationship has been disrupted over a very short period. The original trigger for in-housing was marketing cost control and talent acquisition. Now there is a shift towards agility, speed and content velocity. Agencies are feverishly adapting to the trend by becoming talent providers, collaborative partners and, of course, technology, analytics and data-related service providers.
6. Martech part of enterprise IT – Rev up your stack
By 2019-2020, most large B2C companies will have implemented partial or full Martech stacks and nearly a third of enterprise CMO budgets have been allocated to marketing technology. The challenge to get the new machine running at full speed continues. Martech needs to be frequently updated, developed, and fine-tuned to run properly. Only a handful of forerunners are there yet. Martech was born in enterprise tech silos run by marketeers. Now stacks are fully integrated parts of the enterprise-IT infrastructure, co-owned with IT.
7. Growth Hacking on steroids
The early promise of the Growth Hacker as the next CMO has yet to materialise. A wide array of practices under the umbrella name of Growth Hacking has mainly consisted of siloed optimisation of one or a few areas of digital marketing activities. Increased sophistication of analytics, combined with AI, is about to take growth hacking to the next level, with multi-channel reach, automated optimisation tools, empowered with performance-based, flexible budgets.
8. Enterprise B2B is finally getting its Martech to act together
The B2B marketer focus used to be on creating simple tools for reaching customers (email marketing, web tracking & content, account-based marketing, LinkedIn campaigns). Now forerunners are taking a look at the Martech stack as a whole, figuring out how to connect previously siloed data, looking beyond simple marketing automation and CRM. Time to move from serial piloting to serious attribution modelling, predictive analytics large scale use cases. Many Salesforce Einstein (AI) use cases are now B2B focused. B2B Martech is becoming integrated with enterprise architecture. Shadow-IT-martech in B2B enterprises is fading out.
9. Search and Social is absorbing most of paid media growth
Growth in search and social (S&S) has represented most of bought media growth for quite a few years. The display universe has meanwhile morphed into the programmatic but not grown significantly as a whole. As media agencies struggle with their business models, several S&S focused performance marketing agencies have emerged and thrived. Expect the consolidation game to start shortly. The growth in S&S has dramatically changed the structure of both digital media budget structure and the full media mix of big advertisers. The TV+Display+Search mix has largely been displaced by TV+Google+Facebook.
10. Brand value in the post-GDPR world – Trust comes first
Following GDPR, as an intangible value and key ingredient of brand equity, customer trust is now being re-distributed between companies that can demonstrate that they can guard and nurture it and those who cannot.
11. The Amazon effect not only hit the Nordic retailers
More than half of Nordic retailers see a pending Amazon launch as a threat. The global Amazon-effect retail is now waiting to be demonstrated as the Amazon Nordic launch supposedly will begin in Sweden. The effect is caused by a customer experience of an almost completely frictionless shopping process with near-immediate results. The effect creates customer expectations outside retail as well. Everyone suddenly wants the same experience, whether they’re on their smartphones or inside a brick-and-mortar store. There are good reasons for Nordic retailers to buckle up. Amazon commands 50% of online retail in the US and has so far gobbled up double digits of the online market share in key territories in Europe as well.
Written by Emma Storbacka, Tom Nickels, Tuukka Vakeasuo, Ola Ottoson, Ilona Vigren