Marketers are some of the biggest users of technology, especially as the volume of data on marketing campaigns, sales leads, and customer behaviour has increased exponentially in the last few years, But nothing has disrupted the business landscape more than marketing automation.

Automation technologies have certainly come a long way from autoresponders and email schedulers. Just two years ago, spending on cross channel campaign management (CCCM) solutions already approached half of all martech software revenues. And recently, Gartner put Asia-Pacific investments in marketing automation software at $7 billion by 2023.

Today’s cutting-edge marketing automation can provide insights for streamlining campaign initiatives and nurturing leads, prompting marketing department to earmark a good portion of their budget on martech. Many companies already utilise automation technologies in their marketing operations, starting with triggered emails (72%) and multichannel messaging (41%), and in fact, the average marketing team already spends 30% of its funds on technology.

As adoption of marketing technologies, including automation, starts to accelerate, we put together this must-read list of trends to should look out for in 2019.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to be the biggest game-changer in marketing automation, and it’s here to stay. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), industries are aggressively spending in AI-driven initiatives, and projects that spending will rise to $52.2 billion in 2021. Any company that hasn’t yet incorporated AI into their operations will need to catch up, and fast. As early as 2016, Google, Baidu, and other tech leaders had already invested up to $30B in AI R&D and acquisition.

Marketing automation combined with AI can help make campaigns more effective, by tracking data in real time and making the market’s behavioural patterns more transparent. It can serve website visitors the most relevant content, thus, enhancing their experience. AI tools will help tell where prospects are in the sales funnel, focusing the sales team on leads that are ripest for conversion.

Chatbots, a form of AI, is a big in 2019. Check the website of any big brand and chatbots are already a fixture in their marketing, sales, and customer support. In some countries, government agencies are already investing in cognitive computing. Soon customers will be free of forms, as government offices and businesses put in place smartbots to engage visitors while capturing important information. 

Voice and Image Search

Who’s your go-to AI virtual assistant? Many consumers have taken to Siri, Google, or Alexa, making voice search the default mode for many mobile users. A study from Gartner Inc. forecasts that by next year, 30% of Web browsing will be done without a screen. If that’s the case, voice shopping can’t be too far behind.

For e-commerce sites, therefore, optimising website content for voice search is an urgent concern. The new challenge is to create content that speaks to search engine spiders and also meets the requirements of search intent. Add to this the emergence of image search, which will allow visitors to find what they need by uploading an image file.

 

Hyper-Personalisation

Smart tools that are at our disposal today can quickly analyse data – from individual preferences and interests to search and purchase history – and utilise attribution models to recognise customer intent. Use of these software promise to boost profits by up to 15% in 2020.

Designing a personalised experience for website users, whether through unique messaging or tailored product offers, minimises their search time and gets them closer to a purchase. In fact, about 57% of buyers will favour companies that know what their customers want before the first interaction.

Amazon is one company that has nailed the art of hyper-personalisation. Click on a product and instantaneously, the website offers related items that are “frequently bought together” with the one being viewed. Tactics like this capitalise on impulse buying tendencies, prompt the buyer to add more to their cart, and practically make the search process unnecessary.

 

Omni-Channel Retail Strategies

Only two years ago, 87% of retailers believed that an omni-channel strategy would be vital to success, but only 12% were certain that they’re using the proper technology and even fewer (8%) thought they were getting the experience right. These numbers are set to shift this year, as omni-channel initiatives start to take centre stage, backed by automated marketing tools that can consolidate data, deliver the brand’s message on multiple channels (e.g. website, email, social media, SMS), gauge the effectiveness of the entire effort, all in one go.

In certain markets, small retail chains (10 or more stores) are trailing and have yet to take advantage of the full range of omni-channel capabilities. For example, only about half of these retailers are able to offer inventory visibility, to show which products are currently not in stock; even fewer extend free return deliveries and options to buy online and pick up or return in-store.

Predictive Lead Scoring

Most sales teams still rely on intuition to set predictive scores to individual deals. They look at the data across the companies in their sales pipeline and in time, as they gain experience and build expertise, develop a gut feel for how individual leads are likely to behave. It’s all about identifying patterns.

With AI technologies, the guesswork that goes into lead conversion can now be a thing of the past. Using predictive analytics in marketing, identifying potential clients, optimising marketing campaigns, and forecasting product success can all be done automatically. AI technologies have this down to a science.

It’s exciting to see these trends and more unfold in 2019. But whether it’s your marketing and sales team or your AI-enabled software that is driving the process, one thing is certain: It all starts with the right data and knowing what to do with it. Digital Excellence can help you get better understanding of your data and leverage marketing automation technologies to gain useful insights. Talk to us about equipping your sales and marketing teams with the tools to help your brand stay ahead of competition.

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