This year offered some valuable lessons for marketers - let's see what they mean for 2017.
With the year wrapping up, we find ourselves taking time for reflection to prepare ourselves for the year ahead; it's how we grow as professionals and as people. It stands to reason that marketers, whose field is so people-centric, will find great value in reflecting on what has passed and looking at what's ahead. After a turbulent 2016, it's simplicity and functionality that will shine through for consumers and marketers alike in the year to come. So, 2017, what's in store?
Marketing Technology - State of Play
While the number of martech vendors is almost twice what it was a year ago, the number growth of martech solutions far exceeds that: CMO reports "3,874 solutions and counting, 84% increase year over year". Meanwhile, more than twice the amount of marketers now call their companies "innovators or early adopters". As we noted after this year's Web Summit, "digital" isn't big anymore - it's become fundamental. If "innovation" is to replace "digital" in how marketers describe themselves, we'll continue to see a shift of focus onto the ideas upon which strategies are executed, rather than the technologies used to do it.
So this year has been about companies building bridges between their marketing efforts and tech adoption; the coming year will see those bridges smoothed and strengthened. One major part of this refinement is the martech stack.
"If marketers are innovators, they are more likely to rank their companies as innovators..."
– Scott Brinker, Editor at chiefmartec.com
The Stack - What's yours look like?
According to Techseen, “the average stack is made up of around 17 disconnected, underutilized applications.” Companies that are addressing this problem are adopting a “best-of-breed” approach, where the best technologies or strategies from each area are used in conjunction with one another. According to the State of Marketing report by Chiefmartech and Walker Sands, 48 percent of marketers describe their martech stacks as best-of-breed. The popularity of single-vendor solutions has dropped drastically: of companies with less than 50 employees, 23% of them currently use a suite, and that figure is just 18% for companies with 1,000 employees or more.
According to the State of Marketing Technology 2017 by Walker Sands and chiefmartec.com:
- 70% of marketers expect their companies' martech budgets to increase in 2017
- 33% of marketers think that training would help them to leverage more power from their stacks
- 56% of marketers think that martech as an industry is moving faster than their companies use of martech
The Customers - Marketing for Today
After a year of political turbulence and growing distrust in financial marketers, it is no surprise that many people are in want of loyalty. CMO writes that transparency is the key to increasing the connection with consumers. As we’ve written before, loyalty is a two way street, and the value of showing loyalty to your customers is not a thing to underestimate. Jennifer Putney, a VP of Marketing at Prudential, writes for CMO “It’s going to be much more direct to the individual. It’s going to be about creating that direct connection and trust with the individual on a much more personal level.”
The first of Forbes' top 10 marketing trends for 2017 is an increased focus on customer experience; what we can expect – or rather, what we should push toward – is an integration of customer-first thinking at every level of a company. Members of staff in any department could have ideas on improving the processes at their level, so as well as opening an ear to the customer crowd, marketers will also need to look internally to look for better ways to serve. Sometimes, the simplest ideas can grow to have a big impact.
2017 looks to be an exciting year, particularly if marketers realize the value of enhancing customer experiences. Combine a customer-centric approach with a refined, capable and well-utilized martech stack, and you've got yourself a powerful marketing machine. But what taps into our curiosity most is that word "innovation" - will it meet the same fate as digital? Will it become so intrinsically associated with marketing, so fundamentally necessary, that to brand something as innovative carries no impact? Perhaps we'll find ourselves reflecting on that next Christmas.