The future of marketing technology
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The future of marketing technology

Advances in technology mean that brands can retain and attract customers by engaging with them in an increasingly personalised, meaningful way. Here’s what top marketing experts predict about this area.

John Webster, the much-beloved creative director behind some of advertising’s most memorable creations – from the Smash Martians to the Sugar Puffs Honey Monster – was famous for downing tools and dropping into research groups to discover what the ‘real people’ thought. “He did in person what technology does and will continue to do,” says Nick Fox, founder and new business director of creative agency Atomic London. “It helps you zero into what your audience wants and strengthen that relationship by enabling you to tweak your offering accordingly, and get it seen in all the right places.

“Platforms such as Blackwood Seven use econometrics to plan media campaigns accurately and allow marketers to see immediately what’s working and what’s not. It’s not a gut feeling and there’s no bias or ego involved – it’s just data and analytics, which enables us to see what’s working for a brand and helps us develop that creative strategy further.”

As well as using targeted customer data to boost sales, technology will increasingly enable marketers to foster brand loyalty by offering a more personalised brand experience. Geoffrey Insurance (formerly known as Chaucer Direct) has invested in commerce solutions company Pitney Bowes’ video technology, EngageOne, to create a highly personalised customer experience for its new users.

“Customers buy our product online and renew when their policy runs out,” says Paul Baxter, head of direct. “They may be embarking on their second year with us and yet we’ve never spoken to them. If we engage with our customers, then we are better able to improve renewals and upsell, but it’s a question of how. This technology makes the experience both personal and useful – the video is presented by a real person, and is specific to the customer, thanks to EngageOne’s intelligent software. We’re the first company in the UK to use this technology and we’re hugely impressed with it. Hopefully our customers will be too.”

Susan Perry, global director of enterprise marketing for social media management system Hootsuite, agrees that video has become a vital communication opportunity for businesses. “It’s something we’ll see increasingly integrated into overall marketing strategies,” she says.

“Facebook and Snapchat have both exceeded eight billion daily video views and YouTube’s one billion-plus users are watching 3.25 billion hours of online video content every month. Video content is a rich resource by which brands can really get to understand their customers and how best to engage them. Hootsuite aims to make this navigation easy for businesses by supporting video integration across multiple social channels and networks, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”

This is an example of what Fabio Fabrizio, head of technology at digital agency Syzygy, describes as technology extending its primary function as entertainment to be used as a marketing tool. “It’s a bit like using the digital currency BitCoin for redemption or incentives as it moves mainstream,” he says. “Virtual reality (VR) is another example. It’s a massive market outside of gaming – for instance, you can now make VR goggles out of Coca-Cola cardboard packaging.

“And beyond VR is the 360-degree technology that will give the customer total immersion in a brand or experience – but, crucially, also gives a brand a full picture of their customer.”

As well as watching, marketers will also be listening. Social listening, or the monitoring of digital media channels to discover what’s being said about your brand, is “critical to business strategy among progressive companies,” says Jose Puyol, VP Europe of social media analytics platform NetBase. “It’s changed the way brands engage their audiences, understand their audiences and use that knowledge to drive their business. And the technology is improving every day.”

Michael Baumgaertner, director of media and trading EMEA at Accordant Media, agrees that knowledge is power. “Marketers will be able to use their data in a much more effective way, whether that’s viewing the customer across all channels, being aware of what’s being said about their brands or making sure programmatic gets their brand where it needs to be,” he says. “But while technology can improve efficiency, human beings can never leave the marketing conversation. The technological advances are huge and growing fast but you still have to be there. Human relationships are at the core of every marketing initiative and that won’t change.” It seems like John Webster was onto something after all.

Claire Lavelle Journalist CPL
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