AI. Big data. Predictive marketing. As marketers, we get incredibly excited about what these new digital marketing solutions will bring to our bottom lines. They mean that we will be able to reach more people, accomplish more tasks, and grow our business. But if we’re being realistic, some of these tools are not fully active in our businesses today. Research states:
“85% of marketers who use automation tools believe they don’t use them to their full potential.” (Source)
This means that we likely have systems in our business that are helping us achieve specific goals, but not to the degree that leverages their full capability.
Not only are we not using these systems to their full potential, some of these new technologies have not been fully developed. So how do we navigate this digital marketing maze? How do we find our way while leveraging these powerful tools to make more meaningful connections with our customers? The future of digital marketing is being shaped by a variety of tools and capabilities. They will promise a great many things, but preparing for them is just as critical as implementing them.
Here are a few key things to remember when moving forward through the space between existing and future technology:
People are still needed:
Our desire to bring value to customers should never be replaced by a computer. Computers still can’t interpret the innate needs of our customers. Although we are gathering terabytes of data, we need people to help interpret the data in a way that makes meaning.
“But what needs to go is our reliance on using automation to do our jobs. Because at the end of the day, we’re communicators.” (Source)
What this means is that we need to get smarter about how we use digital marketing systems in our business. Where does it make sense to automate? When do your customers value the human element? When do they simply want information? As marketers, our job is to truly understand the journey and the value at each and every touch-point.
Focus on workflow:
One of the most damaging things that any business can do when preparing for new technology is to create rigid, inflexible workflows. As technology continues to develop and add new features, workflows along your customer journey should remain flexible.
We often assume our customer journey’s work in one direction. Rarely do we consider a customer going backward. This thinking limits the view of our processes and workflow. We become rigid in our thinking, making it difficult when new technologies come into view. We should consider our marketing as operating in multiple directions, often skipping steps or moving from one touch-point to another without warning.
Not only will this approach help you be innovative in the way you engage customers, it will provide the flexibility required to add/remove process steps to improve the way you engage everyone along the journey.
Prepare your stack:
Most everyone is familiar with the term “agile”. We use this term when describing software development, manufacturing, construction and even marketing. At its core agile;
“...advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development...and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.” (Source)
These principles are important to running any business. They should be adaptive, innovative, flexible and continuously improve. If this is true, then your marketing stack should reflect the same. The key is to keep every area of your marketing stack flexible in the way that it communicates with customers, associates, and other systems. This will allow you to respond to the demands of new technology before it arrives in your business.
Digital marketing is constantly changing. As customers continue adopting new technologies and changing their buying habits, our businesses need to be quick to respond. This requires flexibility, not rigid workflows and systems that restrict.
What are other ways your business is navigating the ever-changing digital marketing space? Add them in the comments below!