The rise of big data, cloud computing, and machine learning marked the beginning of the new age for marketers. Previously they had to operate based on nothing but common sense, experience, and just plain hunches.
Even if a business was able to gather a considerable amount of relevant data, the insights buried in it stayed buried – the human brain can only go so far in analyzing information and finding patterns in it.
Today even medium- and small-sized companies have access to solutions that allow them to collect and analyze data to make timely and meaningful decisions based on their findings. So what are the most critical trends in data-driven marketing for this year? Let’s take a closer look.
1. The Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Of course, the creation of true artificial intelligence is still a ways off, and current implementations of machine learning have little in common with well-known sci-fi tropes, but the role and sophistication of AIs noticeably grow from year to year.
Even in their current form, they have plenty of applications for marketers, such as predictive analytics by analyzing huge arrays of information, an ML algorithm can predict the future based on past behaviours.
This approach is naturally followed by prescriptive analytics these advanced algorithms don’t just predict the future but provide recommendations on how a company should behave to meet the challenges it is about to encounter optimally. Another area where AI finds a lot of use is fraud prevention.
Marketers spend significant resources battling ad fraud, but an AI has all the chances to make this fight easier it is much better at recognizing anomalies that signify the presence of potential fraud than humans can ever be.
2. Emphasis on the Improvement of User Experience
Data-driven marketing traditionally always focused on hard metrics such as conversion rate, clickthrough, etc. When analyzing interactions with customers, marketers reduced the effects of their work to how this or that change or action would increase the conversion or retention rate.
As a result, they lost sight of the bigger picture: what kind of user experience they were building through their efforts? It is especially true for the stores selling expensive products.
After all, it is hard to imagine that a single ad can move somebody to buy a Breitling watch or a Burberry coat. Such a purchase only comes as a result of multiple inputs, all of which have to be taken into account in conjunction with each other.
About the Omnichannel – in other words, the ability to reach out to customers seamlessly through multiple channels – has been perceived as a curious novelty by many businesses, but now it is suddenly a new norm, and those who don’t adapt to it quickly risk lagging far behind their more tech-savvy competitors.
Omnichannel works both ways: brick-and-mortar stores establishing an online presence and online brands expanding offline. Whichever way a business goes, it should be ready to use the data previously gathered through their CRMs as a foundation for marketing campaigns.
4. Online Marketing is More and More Focused on Apps
The importance of apps as marketing tools has been steadily growing for a long time now. After all, most online activity these days happens not via desktop computers but through mobile devices, and these are mostly app-centric.
This means that apps are becoming the main tool with which marketers both reach out to their audiences and gather the much-needed data about them. Therefore, in-app advertising and marketing are going to be at the center of attention for quite some time.
5. Search Overtakes Social as a Source of Referrals For Website Traffic
Although social media continue to play a significant role in marketing and lie at the foundation of many effective strategies, search engine traffic has been rapidly increasing over the last few years and finally shot ahead.
There are many reasons why this happens, not the least of which is the change of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, penalizing organic posts by companies and organizations in favor of personal postings.
6. Lookalike Modeling
Another interesting application of AI algorithms is called lookalike modelling. As advertising grows ever more targeted and personalized, marketers get an opportunity to focus their efforts on specific groups of customers and even individual persons.
These algorithms can be used to single out the main characteristics of current loyal customers to identify persons who are currently not clients but share these features and, therefore, are likely to be interested in becoming them.
7. Identity Resolution Takes Analytics to the Next Level
Identity resolution tools are used to connect online behavior to a unique consumer’s identity, providing the information marketers need to create offers that are personalized to a much greater degree than it was previously believed to be possible.
In the long run, it gives you an opportunity to provide optimal user experience across multiple channels – if you can tie a client to a particular identity regardless of which channel they use, you can always behave consistently towards this or that person, getting a higher ROI in the end.
8. Data Onboarding Gets Even More Important
As more and more companies undergo a digital transformation or simply start using online tools more actively, data onboarding acquires an ever-growing role. Simply put, it means that companies transfer the data that was collected from offline sources to online environments.
Most often, it is done to find Personally Identifiable Information about existing offline clients to find them online and market to them more efficiently.
In a way, it is just a part of the omnichannel approach in the sense that all the segments of your business should cooperate to connect all the pieces of the puzzle and reach out to clients no matter where they are.
Of course, data-driven marketing is a huge and rapidly developing field that cannot be delineated by just a few trends.