Last week we attended the C Suite Marketing Expo in London, attended by a number of marketing innovators and leaders. So what can businesses take from this year’s  marketing technology trends to keep their strategies competitive?

The martech market continues to grow

Speakers made a compelling case for the continued growth of martech. More vendors continue to join the game, and it’s little surprise that this remains a growing space for providers and products. That said, while the market is growing, there are also signs that it’s beginning to consolidate as well. Sure there are more ideas coming to market, but they’re quickly being bought out by those at its forefront.

Customer service is 2019’s most competitive battleground

In our increasingly transparent and connected world, customer service is the new battle ground for sales. Growth by referral and reputation is more important than ever.

Net promoter scores, reviews and ratings are going up in value rather than down. Everything from your Glassdoor employer rating to your Capterra rating for software. Your LinkedIn reviews, Facebook, Tripadvisor and of course word of mouth. Those ratings are more critical than ever because buyers are making more solid decisions based on them.

Crucially, these online reviews need to be considered as a fundamental part of the customer journey. More often than not, customers are researching your brand before you even know they’re in the market for your service.

Stats suggest that as much as 69% of the customer’s decision making on whether to buy from you happens before they speak to you. It’s all the more reason for you to invest in your site, your blog, your photos, your videos and your reviews.  Make sure they are in good ongoing shape, and that they reflect the image you want to project.

AI has matured but is yet to be a game changer

AI has been a topic of hot discussion over the last few years and it’s definitely become more operational. Most commonly used for campaign analytics and marketing personalisation, it has its place in the market. However, for businesses it isn’t a game changer right now. So watch this space but don’t get too excited just yet.

Social media is all about knowing your audience

Social media is becoming more polarised. Once upon a time it was about sitting firmly on the fence when it came to political opinion or news commentary.  Now, consumers increasingly respond to brands that align with their own ideals.

Brands are recognising that they need to make choices that are in line with those of their customers. Nike showed this last year when it made the politically divisive decision to make former quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick the face of its global advertising campaign. Kaepernick was criticised by many, including the President, for getting down on bended knee during pre-game national anthems. It was in protest over police brutality against Africa-Americans.

While some responded by burning their trainers, it provoked big names including LeBron James and Serena Williams to pledge their support for Nike.  In the end it showed the brand to have made a bold and conscious decision to identify with the people they see as their customer base.

‘Pick a side’ seems to be both the subtext and the consumer demand.

Zero trust when it comes to data

consumer trust is at an all time low.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the wake of many a scandal as well as changes in GDPR.

There seems to be a general belief that the likes of big Silicon Valley companies and data providers are likely to misuse personal information. While there’s a certain amount of passive expectation in that, it’s not a good sign for businesses looking to build strong brand loyalty. The upshot is that data hygiene is paramount. If your company wins digital trust then you probably have a customer for ‘life’ in so much as such a thing exists today.

So what’s the conclusion?

There are no big revolutions predicted this year, but everything you’re doing – do it better. Look at tidying up your processes as much as possible.  Gear your marketing technology and strategies towards transparency. That means have a plan for all eventualities.  Make customer service your goal. For example, if there is a one star review that appears on one of your channels (and it will from time to time), make sure you have a plan in place to respond to it for a positive outcome.

Fractional CMTO, David Mallinder says: “Martech 2019 looks very similar to 2018 and AI continues to drive change. Consolidation may be around the corner but customer satisfaction no matter how it is delivered remains the key driver for conversion.”

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