Marketing Technology - Where We've Been and Where We're Going

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As 2012 draws to a close, it’s important to look at three big trends that began this year, and that will only become more important in the year to come. As technology gets better and cheaper, and data becomes more plentiful, many companies will have no choice but to finally invest in marketing software just to make sense of everything that’s going on. Without a clear idea of whether the people opening your emails are coming back to your website or engaging with you on social media, you’re basically throwing information away.

So with that, here’s what’s come along in 2012 and what will be increasing relevant in 2013:

Data, Data, Data

Pundits have been talking about big data for a long-time, but we’re beginning to see large organizations truly tackle “Big Data” and organizations of all sizes begin to look at the data they’re producing holistically. Whether you’re looking at terabytes of data or not, you’re going to need ways to manage it, analyze it, and draw insights from it.

A good way to evaluate your data issues is to think about how many data stores you have across platforms. A data store is anywhere where data is being generated. If it’s integrated with your other systems, then good for you! If using it with other programs requires multiple spreadsheet merges and cross-references, then it may be time to invest in some integrations.

Platform integrations can seem expensive at first, but the efficiencies you see from them can’t be ignored. When your data can be evaluated in the context of other systems, that insight is incredibly valuable, and certainly more efficient than having an employee pull together a master spreadsheet daily or weekly to see what trends are emerging.

For marketing, the value of seeing whether the people you’re emailing are coming back to visit your site is priceless. If you’re a salesperson and know that the person at the bottom of your list visited the site for 30 minutes yesterday, you’ll probably want to give them the first call. But without that insight, all of those names and numbers just look the same.

Integrations are going to continue to be the key to working through the massive amount of data businesses are generating. Starting with platforms that handle many functions, like HubSpot, is a great first step. Eventually, you’ll want to see how marketing is affecting sales though. That leads us to...

Closed-loop analytics

A historical complaint about marketing has been that they can’t justify their activities. They do stuff that can’t really be quantified, and don’t even mention ROI to them.

Today, nothing could be further from the truth, but people will be forgiven for thinking this problem still exists. By integrating marketing efforts into CRMs or e-commerce websites, marketers are able to see exactly what the most effective campaigns are. Furthermore, they can see the dollar amount that it generated.

To do this requires a reliable CRM or e-commerce website. If you’re able to track a sale, you can begin to trace it further back to the interactions people took on the website, social media, or in emails. It’s an impressive feat.

Being able to track the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts means that you won’t have the nagging question of ROI hanging over the department’s head. Instead you’ll be able to quantify every activity, and begin to provide insights into new areas of focus. Imagine knowing that the leads you generate from LinkedIn require a lot more effort than other sources and thus have a high acquisition cost. But then you can take it one step further and say that LinkedIn leads end up generating five time the revenue of other leads. That type of intelligence is hard to quantify in terms of importance, except that most would agree it’s “extremely valuable”.


The final trend to watch is context. A good example of context is showing the right thing to the right person at the right time. Traditionally, that’s been very difficult. Showing the right thing to the right person is difficult enough, but when you throw timing in there, it’s almost insurmountable.

However, marketers and salespeople have gotten much better at cracking this nut. Many now leverage emails to simply guide leads through their sales process to continue to communicate to leads, even when they’re not interested in talking to salespeople.

Additionally, websites can now dynamically change based on where a person is in the buying cycle. By having your website connected to your marketing database, you can change the offers and content that appears for them. If someone is already talking to sales, you can adjust the introductory offers to instead show something more relevant to where a person is in the sales cycle, like a free trial.

Context is perhaps the one with the furthest to go, but in reality, we’re all used to sites using context already. Chances are that when you log into any social media site, it looks different from everyone else’s. There’s a good reason for this - the people behind those sites have figured out ways to show you more relevant stories, items or photos. Most people would say that’s a good thing. Context is no different. Instead of having just a generic site that has to be everything to everyone, you can now have parts change to show what’s most relevant to the visitor.

2012 has brought with it incredible marketing innovation, and I wouldn’t expect 2013 to be any different. Watch these trends to see where we’re headed. Expect these to become more prominent and used more widely during 2013.

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