There have been a lot of exciting new marketing technologies and strategies introduced this year. From HubSpot’s Flywheel methodology - to machine learning Chat Bots - to Augmented Reality — and much more.
In order to make sense of at least some of it, and to begin to formulate a picture for where the marketing industry is heading next, we collected a number of helpful articles, white papers and presentations from some of the biggest publishers and players in the industry.
To note, there are literally countless articles on this topic from countless sources. As an example, a simple search on the American Marketing Association website returned 5,200 results!
That said, here’s our round-up for 2018 on topics that interest us and have caught our eye on where the marketing industry looking forward to 2020.
Harvard Business Review: The Harvard Business Review wrote a piece on marketing organizations in 2014 on how to construct the "Ultimate Marketing Machine", They discuss the traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. This includes the value of big data and deep insights, purposeful positioning and constructing a total customer experience.
Our Social Times: We should be working in three dimensions. There are a number of great takeaways in this article by Steven van Belleghem planning for Marketing in 2020 that resonated with us. He discusses how companies need to excel in three key areas: "extreme customer centricity", "technology" and "selling without selling". The article enforces many of the strategies that one must consider when analyzing and (ultimately) modernizing the customer experience.
Marketing Owns The Customer Experience
Business 2 Community: We found this piece by Brenda Do with Business 2 Community from about a year ago talking about top trends for Chief Marketing Officers. One particular passage gets straight to the heart of where we see marketing headed today. The modern marketeer must connect the dots between marketing, sales and customer service - in other words - the complete customer experience.
The science-backed CMO: Marketers spent the last 10+ years focusing on understanding customers more deeply for greater personalization. Now it’s time to use that knowledge to drive engagement, and do it at scale.
“Today, the primary task of CMOs is to deeply understand customer buying behavior and intent; deeply understand the context of where someone is in their decision journey; be able to predict what they’re most likely primed to do next; and be ready to influence them at the right moment.” —Jonathan Martin, CMO, Pure Storage
In other words, marketing is now responsible for getting and keeping the customer. Which means the CMO’s job now includes marketing, sales, and customer service.
Content Length Extremes
Forbes: This article by Forbes written in 2017 discusses their top predictions for the shape of content marketing in the next few years. It's a short piece, but it reinforces the value of great content. The part we found most interesting was an observation on simply really long web pages. Knowing how web search and mobile use has evolved, we are a huge proponent for this. Here's a relevant example on a Life Science company’s website where they pack a ton of information on one page - versus splitting it up into different pages. Yes, the webpage is a monster (in the best of ways), but they did a great job laying out the information and providing the shortcut anchor links to keep it all manageable. It was great to see that there are related links at the bottom of their static web pages. But we must mention that nothing is gated - which is a missed opportunity for capturing leads.
Fast Company: "Transparency is the new black." Gosh, we love this phrase. In reading this article from Fast Company, they cover how Brands must simply be more transparent "in a genuine and authentic way" to succeed. We absolutely agree. There are various ways this could be applied in a B2B organization. Providing a top-notch project management and customer support system is one. But in other areas, such as publicly sharing the price of your services can build a lot of trust for prospects. Yes, it may seem as if you’re giving away your most important secret (price) - but when done correctly, like showing cost ranges, this can ben an incredibly powerful tool when looking to build a strong, confident reputation and a level of market differentiation.
The Trend On Trends
Maximize Social Business: With a focus on influencer marketing, this article by Maximize Social Business lists 20 developing trends. The more obvious ones include the value of thinking like a publisher and investing in rich media content with video and podcasts. There are many, many studies that discuss how effective communications need to be delivered in various ways. And we can’t agree more. There's an art to striking the right balance - especially in B2B marketing. Having super slick, carefully crafted interactive media - sounds great - but the key is (and always will be) how to figure out all the ways this type of work can drive real opportunity into your sales pipeline.
Blue Compass: There are a number of rather bold prediction in this article by the agency Blue Compass. One particular comment that states Google will radically change their search experience (once again) and essentially reduce their search results caught our eye. Originally, we read this as a bit ridiculous. But, if you look at Google Snippets and now Google AMP - this prediction has (in a way) already come true!!!
Side note: Google AMP is completely new to us. We are not completely confident when Google officially began rolling out this feature. In super simple terms, Google AMP is a mobile feature that kicks in when you perform Google search. Any result with a little lightning bolt next to the article title is a Google AMP result. When you click this link you actually stay in Google - and view the article in a special AMP reader. Yes, you have the option of continuing to the source article, but Google AMP is claiming to reduce load times and the clutter — formatting the article in a way that’s more compatible with mobile. All sounds great, but just remember - it’s Google’s job to keep you in their world as much as possible. They track your viewing habits even more with this function and can easily deliver sponsored content through this channel (and many other channels) without you even knowing it.
Microsoft: Produced in June 2018, this presentation by Microsoft is a fairly deep dive on the topic of future proofing your marketing with machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ve taken a number of classes on the topics of; deep learning, artificial intelligence and machine learning — especially in how these technologies and services are enhancing marketing and customer experience. This is a fascinating technology that, when implemented properly in a B2B environment, will really change the course of EVERY industry. The topic of AI as it relates to marketing will be covered in a separate article once we have completed enough due diligence to have a real understanding of this trend!
HubSpot: HubSpot put together an entire mini-site they call a "crash course" on the topic of Marketing in 2020. The result is a series of videos they put together with FaceBook, Slack along with a few other key marketing professionals in various industries. They discuss the value of instant chat and its broadening effects - which (of course) follows the HubSpot technology roadmap. We love the fact that this is a video-rich experience. It's different than all of the other articles we have been reading - and as they mention - this is a trend in how to deliver compelling content today.
Every year, Hubspot also publishes a report they call the “State of Inbound” which provides their analysis of the industry covering a wide variety of channels and strategies. This year’s report surveyed 6,200 people from 99 countries in just about every industry. You can download HubSpot's “2018 State of Inbound” report here.
SalesForce: SalesForce also agrees on all of these trending fronts, mentioning the power of contextual marketing, chatbots and automation in this article about marketing trends in 2018 they published in November of last year. This article, like the ones from Microsoft and HubSpot, do the very obvious thing of enforcing their own technology roadmap and current offering set. That said, these services are enabling all of us to create fairly remarkable digital experiences for our leads and customers.
Adobe: Like many of the other market leaders, Adobe publishes a report on the state of Digital Marketing with their 2018 Digital Trends Report. This report encapsulates the views of over 12,000 marketing and creative professionals - a really impressive sample pool of market intelligence. We found their results to be quite consistent with everyone else “where experience is the focal point of digital activities”.
John Watton, Adobe’s Sr. Director of Marketing at Adobe summed up today’s trends very nicely. Here’s a snippet:
While there are plenty of new insights in this year’s report, the message is again coming through loud and clear that we have well and truly moved into an era where experience is the focal point of digital activities.
At the same time there’s a ‘creativity renaissance’ happening. Organizations across the globe are investing more heavily in design to differentiate their brands. In fact, organizations that described themselves as ‘design-driven’ are more likely to significantly exceed their business goals.
It takes the right culture to achieve the right blend of tech, data and design. Companies committed to delivering experiences are adopting a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives and collaboration. These organizations are winning by a significant margin, and have built a cohesive, long-term plan for attracting future customers. So, it’s not surprising that these companies are at the top of their sectors.