What does 2017 have In Store for Marketing Automation?

Automation is not new to marketing, right from Eloqua to the new platforms like Pardot, marketing automation has transcended being a fancy buzzword. Reports suggest that 90% of businesses today depend on periodic or regular use of marketing automation for effective email campaigns.

There was a time when marketing automation was used only by large businesses that were financially well-off however, today, it is available to B2B and B2C companies of all size. This has been made possible by the exponential increase in the number of third-party vendors in the market today.

Marketing today is dependent on time management. It is all about who makes the first move, who engages more with the client, and who converts lead faster. Brands can no longer afford to lose time on prospects or customers who may not convert. Toggling between platforms and sifting through leads takes up valuable time for companies. This is where marketing automation comes to the rescue. It has completely transformed the way in which brands manage their target and time. In simple words, marketing automation enables marketers to conveniently locate relevant prospects with a high possibility of conversion.

2016 was the watershed year for marketing automation. According to a report, the number of websites using marketing automation in 2016 was 482,765, and six of the well-known marketing automation technologies held over 57% of the market share last year.

So what will marketing automation look like in 2017?

The Customer as the Focal Point

Customer retention will be the prime focus for marketers this year. Companies are fighting it out against one another to offer their consumers with a lot of choices. Personalization will be something that these companies will be counting on from time to time. And marketing automation, in this regard, will be infused with larger marketing strategies.

Marketers will also need to have well thought out buyer personas, as these are the guiding light. After having done this, marketers will be required to think about what each of these individual customer wants through the funnel. Information at the awareness stage and at the purchase or consideration stage are always different. It is important that marketers deliver relevant content to customers at the various stages of the customer journey. For instance, if a customer is at the end of the purchase funnel, marketers should generate the content that is more specific in nature, and not simply about the product, its features, and benefits. This helps in enriching the overall customer experience.

The marketing spend, in the context of the customer journey, will be focused more on advocacy, upsell, and customer retention. This approach will transform consumers into micro-influencers, whose loyalty will promote purchases within his or her network.

The Case of Account-Based Marketing and Artificial Intelligence

Like last year, 2017 will see an explosive growth in the adoption of account-based marketing (ABM), with over 70% B2B companies focusing on ABM programs. It goes without saying that ABM has replaced most of the traditional marketing methods, and B2B marketers who implemented ABM strategies — delineating team configurations, outlining budgets, and selecting target accounts — have experienced a sharp increase in their average annual contact value of 171%.

This growth is a direct result of the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the ABM landscape. AI enables brands to engage with customers on a more personal level. Personalization helps in slackening off spams that occasionally plague the marketing processes today.

AI will be enabling websites to engage with individual customers by offering unique conversations for addressing their specific needs. The digital marketing space this year will be experiencing hyper-personalization at scale like one-to-one emails, individualized mobile and website experiences, and dynamic ad copies. Moreover, AI is expected to enable the creation of new B2B marketing technologies that will provide support to, as well as completely alter ABM solutions in the near future.

Revamped Marketing Automation Platforms

This year marketers will continue to give a face-lift to their marketing automation platforms (MAPs). The next-gen MAPs will be more astute and will be focused on smaller applications for individual tasks, rather than trying to merge everything in one marketing automation structure.

This year, as opposed to rule-based automation, the marketing arena will see the proliferation of machine learning automation. The new breed of MAPs powered by machine learning will leverage data to offer effective insights and help in making proactive decisions.

Michael Sharkey, CEO at Autopilot, states, “2017 will be about the data insight haves and have-nots. At the moment, there’s much more access to data, but not enough insight — to a point where it can be paralyzing for marketers. But, with almost half of the marketers intending to invest in predictive analytics in the upcoming year, we can expect to see many more advances in martech that attempt to translate the wealth of available data into actionable insights — helping create and manage seamless customer journeys.”

Further, the need of relevant and original content hints at the criticality of having machine learning-based MAPs for businesses who are aiming for success online.

Further, the need of relevant and original content hints at the criticality of having machine learning-based MAPs for businesses who wish to possess a robust platform for capturing customer experience.

Automation through Social Platforms

In recent years, marketers have attempted to align their social ads with their sales channels. This year too, the attempts will remain similar. There is no doubt that social ads are helping marketers to get their messages delivered to the right people and at the right time. Marketers are leveraging the refined targeting options on social channels to reach people via emails. Moreover, brands can further upgrade the list and design more specific messaging through social ad targeting. Marketers will continue integrating their CRM data with targeted ads to connect with customers across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

According to Malinda Wilkinson, CMO at Salesfusion, “People often mistake licensing a platform as the key to success with marketing automation and underestimate the other critical success factors such as, suitable marketing strategy, sufficient content, appropriate business processes, personnel, skills and technical support. Because of the necessary expertise and lack of bandwidth, we have seen a growing number of marketers taking a DIFM or “Do It for Me” approach for martech and looking for software WITH a service instead of the traditional software AS a service. They are turning to outside resources to execute the systems, so they can focus time and energy on strategy and content development. Given the current momentum we are seeing behind this trend, I expect it to continue to grow in 2017.”

Boosting Conversions with Personalized Remarketing

Remarketing, or retargeting, is an exceptionally powerful tool for advertisers who get high traffic. As consumers tend to do a lot of research before taking any action. As a result of this, brands will need to ensure that they stay on top of the customer’s mind. The only way to achieve this by delivering the right content at the right time.

In such a situation, personalized remarketing comes in handy for marketers. Let us look at some of the remarketing tactics that need to be kept in mind.

First, marketers need to be careful regarding the website pages they tag. This depends on the marketing objective of a company. Second, brands need to segment their remarketing campaigns to treat each individual customer exclusively. This can be done by creating separate Call to Actions (CTAs) for each segmented ad group. Third, marketers need to make sure that their ad is eligible to be shown on multiple networks. Fourth, providing coupons and discounts can help brands ensure that a visitor returns to their site. Finally, personalized remarketing emphasizes on content and educates customers, and is not focused on direct sale.

Marketing automation will continue evolving, with more capabilities, features, and integrations. Brands will need to keep an eye out for features that will prove beneficial to their needs, and help them deliver improved experiences to their customers.

This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor