Marketing Automation In 2018
The curtains have been drawn on 2017, and what a year it was. Cryptocurrency dominated headlines with their meteoric rise. Donald Trump became the president of the United States, which definitely won the award for being the greatest surprise of the year. A bit closer to the home front, the Marketing Automation industry also grew considerably. We highlight key Marketing Automation trends that will matter in this year for B2C businesses.
Going into 2018, the Marketing Automation Software market is expected to continue growing at 8.55%, unlocking a market capitalization of US$ 5.5 billion by 2019. According to Emailmonday, more than 51% of companies are using Marketing Automation already, and 58% of B2B companies are planning to adopt the technology.
2018 will be all about creating unique, engaging experiences that add value to the evolved, super-connected, always-online consumer, and Marketing Automation will act as a catalyst in making it all happen.
So, without further ado, here are the top trends that will influence and dominate the Marketing Automation industry this year.
1) Marketing Automation will continue to grow going into 2018
As marketers begin to realize the value and potential of Marketing Automation, they are increasing their investment on MarTech. Based on predictive analysis of data, Marketers are expected to spend as much as 32 billion US$ in 2018 on Marketing Automation software.
- The number of Marketing Automation vendors grew 36% in 2017, a clear indicator of the burgeoning market demand.
- According to Salesforce’s “State of Marketing 2017” report, there will be a 21% growth over the next 2 years in the number of marketers using Marketing Automation.
- The report also stated that 67% of marketing leaders are using Marketing Automation in their strategy. Other businesses can try to emulate tactics deployed by market leaders to achieve similar levels of success.
- Marketing Automation has come to be recognized as an essential tool for improving bottom line growth, with over 70% of Indian marketers using it primarily for improving their lead conversion rate.
Where’s The Catch?
Securing a sizeable budget, and creating a sound strategy for Marketing Automation will continue to be dodgy as some decision makers might be split on the idea. Some Marketers continue to associate Marketing Automation Platforms as high-maintenance, complex systems that are formidable to master.
2) Personalized Content Will Reign Supreme
Context will be the driving force behind business growth. Consumers are demanding relevant experiences from the brands they interact with. They expect brands to know their likes and preferences, and come up with intelligent product recommendations that are worth their while.
- By combining social listening, user attributes, on-site behavioral attributes and past purchase data, marketers have a fantastic opportunity to formulate a highly accurate customer profile.
- Understanding user preferences and buying habits will help brands move beyond segmentation and personalization, and enter the realm of hyper-personalization and predictive recommendations.
- Personalized content will be the key ingredient in a brand’s retention marketing efforts. It can help brands rack up their customer loyalty index, ensuring that business doesn’t get lost to competition.
Where’s The Catch?
Creating and executing hyper-personalized campaigns at scale for a really massive user base will be the real challenge. Marketing Automation platforms that integrate seamlessly with online businesses and collect user data at various points will be instrumental here by letting users personalize large-scale campaigns easily.
3) Smarter Marketing Automation: Machine Learning + AI Assisted Platforms
Predictive Personalization will be the pot of gold at the end of the Marketing Automation rainbow in 2018. Netflix and Starbucks are already up and running with recommendation engines that use AI + Machine Learning to create hyper-personalized experiences for customers. Their growth is proof enough that predictive personalization is the way ahead.
- In 2018, marketers will start to use machine learning in content creation. Machine Learning and data will work together to boost engagement efficiency.
- Once a user clicks an ad, the underlying user, and behavioral data will be consumed by Machine Learning systems and used in future campaigns and touch-points as the user progresses in their life-cycle.
- Similarly, AI-assisted platforms will proliferate and technologies like Natural Language Processing & Deep Learning will be leveraged to automate the study of user behavior, online activity, understanding speech and language patterns to create hyper-personalized user personas.
What’s The Catch?
A commercially viable AI + Machine Learning end-all, be-all solution is still in the works. Larger brands have the manpower and financial resources to create their own system, but other businesses will have to wait before they find a simplified plug-and-play system. If you know of any such software that is already making waves in the industry, please drop a word in the comments below.
4) Chatbots Will Continue Making Waves
In the coming years, Chatbots will be playing a crucial role in customer service and customer engagement. Chatbots will become smarter and will be capable of behavioral recommendations in the future along with deep integration with third-party software.
- Over 70% of respondents in this study preferred engaging with a brand via a chatbot, and not an app. The potential for user engagement is absolutely massive, provided the chatbots are intelligent enough to hold up a meaningful conversation with multiple users.
- Messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger have had huge success with Chatbots since opening up integration for brands. According to research, over 60 percent of users who received a chatbot ping on Messenger have engaged with the message.
- Whatsapp will soon allow brands to integrate chatbots with their API, opening up a whole new avenue for brand-user engagement. With 1.3 billion active MAU’s, this is a tremendous opportunity for businesses big and small.
- With 2 billion messaging app users expected in 2018, the market potential for chatbots is huge. It is too big a number for marketers to ignore, and chatbots are a great tool for tapping into it.
- From Oracle’s survey of 800 top decision makers around the world, over 80% are already using, or are planning to start using chatbots for their business by 2020. Chatbots are largely coming out as a plausible engagement solution for marketers.
What’s The Catch?
Chatbots are essentially human-trained computer programs taught to understand and mimic human conversation. Chatbots still struggle to understand the human contextual conversation at times because every individual has a unique style of communicating. Chatbots lack the seamless exchange of information, something that humans are able to do so effortlessly.
5) Automated Social Media Marketing
Time spent on social media has increased from 126 minutes in 2016 to 135 minutes in 2017. Brands want a sizeable piece of your social screen time in 2018. The smart automation of social media marketing will be on the agenda, as brands try to reach out to the right audiences with their messaging at the right time in a user’s lives to maintain high contextual relevance.
- Organic visibility will continue to fall on Facebook. To counter this, brands try to improve their ROI by increasing their social media marketing budget. Social media ad targeting will become highly targeted by mirroring Google’s Adwords platform.
- The generation Z population is growing, and so is their purchasing power. With time, they will rival millennials spending potential. Brands need to prepare a targeted social strategy specifically for them because they spend the maximum time online.
- 2017 witnessed a 60% increase in social media budget of brands, which will increase even further in 2018.
- Video content will dominate social media. Social video advertising increased 130%, which will urge several brands to look towards video as an effective social engagement tool.
- The Stories feature will be a big bet for advertisers. With linking feature now available, brands will be using it heavily to drive conversions.
What’s The Catch?
It will be interesting to see how effective social media campaigns are in the coming years for advertisers. Facebook’s new rules are going to throttle impression shares for publishers and advertisers, as Facebook seeks to go back to its roots and promote content from immediate friends and family.
6) Lifecycle Marketing Using Predictive CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
According to Mckinsey, brands that are able to provide the most pleasant and engaging experience throughout a customer’s lifetime will have higher conversion and retention statistics. If the customer experience isn’t up to the mark at any particular stage, users will refrain from making repeat purchases
- Brands will look to migrate from a static to a more dynamic, behavioral approach in creating customer segments to accommodate a user’s changing needs and preferences in real-time.
- More and more brands will try to study and assess their user’s online behavior and understand how they are transacting, operating online and their motives behind search and purchase.
- Predictive CLV is going to be the way ahead, as brands will seek to optimize their advertising spends according to the expected revenue from their customers in real-time.
- With advanced segmentation, brands will be able to identify high, medium and low CLV users and create highly personalized marketing campaigns with a justifiable marketing cost that doesn’t exceed the perceived value of each user subset.
- Marketing Automation Softwares will let brands create highly accurate user profiles easily by analyzing user attributes, behavioral and past purchase history and create an accurate CLV assessment.
Where’s The Catch?
The biggest issue here will be getting the right type of data consistently, especially for larger businesses dabbling in multiple product and service categories across markets. Also, forecasting metrics like revenues and costs are always tricky which can skew the outcome negatively in case there are errors in the calculations.
7) User Retention is going to be Critical For Business Growth
In 2018, customer experience will evolve to become a cross-function of marketing and dictate future campaigns based on user engagement and response. Brands will push hard to understand the journey of anonymous users who haven’t transacted on their site. Tracking their journey from becoming an unknown to known users will deliver real value in terms of growth. According to Bain & Company’s report, a 5% increase in customer retention can positively affect profitability by over 75%.
- Acquiring customers remains 5X more expensive than retaining existing ones, and the CLV of old customers compared to newly acquired customers is a lot higher. This is why most businesses will be laser-focused on retention in 2018 to max out their bottom line.
- Forrester says that Brands that offer better customer experience will have 5 times higher revenue growth than other brands. This will be the next big battleground as brands scramble to woo their users with a highly personalized experience to secure their commitment and increase their loyalty count.
- Happy users will act as brand evangelists to their immediate circle of friends and family. Consumers today trust reviews and recommendations from their peers a LOT more than advertisements. This will be reason enough for brands to keep their customers happy and retain them.
Where’s The Catch?
Brands will have to work fast and align their interests towards the ‘Experience Economy’. A personalized customer experience will be the major differentiator in the market and it will be hard for brands to constantly innovate, execute and deliver maximum value to their users at scale.
8) Mobile 1st Approach
Mobile marketing will be a major growth driving factor for businesses as it fast becomes the user’s primary device for communication with the online world. Marketers will aim to create an elaborate mobile engagement strategy for brands, leveraging tools like push and web notifications, SMS, mobile wallet and in-app notifications effectively. Marketing Automation will be the tool that weaves an elaborate web around these campaigns and ensures that they work cohesively at scale.
- Mobile ad spends overtook desktop in 2017 for the first time, and this will continue in the new year with spends expected to increase by 8.5 %. Expect a lot more mobile-based ads and campaigns in the coming year.
- Google’s mobile-first index is expected in 2018, and this will force the hand of many brands to optimize their website for mobile. Mobile will become the go-to channel for marketers in 2018 for engagement and retention.
- Brands will definitely be looking to focus on creating mobile-specific content and exclusive mobile engagement strategies to capitalize on the medium’s popularity.
- With the growth spurt in mobile usage, brands will be scurrying to collect and analyze the data of their mobile users and how they engage with their brand. This behavioral and transactional data will be crucial for understanding the user’s intent and buying behavior, which will lead the way for personalized campaigns in the future.
What’s The Catch?
It will be difficult for marketers to create personalized, contextual and highly engaging campaigns on mobile consistently. The margin for error is very low considering the personal nature of mobile as a medium, and an ill-timed campaign or a wrongly worded message can lead to user churn or dissonance immediately.
9) Integrated Cross-Channel Marketing will dominate
Going ahead in 2018, Marketers will be more likely to succeed with a multi-channel marketing strategy as compared to working in individual silos.
- According to research, Employing 2 or more communication channels increases the engagement levels by over 166% compared to single-channel outreach models. Marketers will be keen to exploit this factor to keep their customers engaged at multiple touchpoints.
- More than 53% of UK consumers spend their online browsing time on multiple devices. This has given rise to the phenomenon of Webrooming, where the user conducts considerable research online before carrying out the purchase. Marketers will exploit this multi-screen approach to ensure engagement across all touch-points where the user is active.
What’s The Catch?
It will be interesting to see how marketers analyze data and choose the best possible mediums for their marketing campaign. A multi-channel campaign will have several layers of user engagement and action, and this will require data intelligence to identify key insights that positively affect conversion and engagement. All of these factors will have to be seamlessly sewn into these multi-channel campaigns to ensure that the brand message remains fresh and adds value to the end user.
Summing It Up
Your user is no longer willing to wait and will make the jump to a better-suited competitor in light speed. This is why Marketing Automation will play a key role in business as brands will scamper to create a more engaging, targeted and personalized experience for their users going ahead in 2018.