When it comes to technology, almost nothing is built to last. Next year there will be a new app or an enhanced version of a current one. That’s because by nature, tech developers, programmers and marketers always learn from previous releases and marketplace changes. As technology advances, we’re only limited by our own vision of what’s possible. Yet, when all is said and done, there are a handful of technologies that have become mainstays in our business and personal lives.
Here are some marketing technologies that have withstood the test of time. As you develop your marketing plan for next year, make sure to use these applications to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and results.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software. It’s virtually impossible to operate without a practical, organized database of clients and prospects. Database and CRM software have been around for many years, which means they’ve evolved and added functionality based on marketplace demands. Database and CRM software, such as Zoho, amoCRM, Microsoft Access, Oracle, Salesforce or Hubspot, creates a system of records that can be used to coordinate customer data from multiple sources and take appropriate next steps. What’s best is there are products available for corporations of any size, industry and technical capability, and many can be customized to suit the users.
- Data Analytics. Creating a database of customers and prospects is an important first step for marketers and sales teams. Next comes accessing data from the CRM system and using the information to make sound business decisions. Data analytics help companies identify trends, see similarities and buying patterns, understand buyers’ needs and generate more qualified leads. Step two is using data to analyze the success of marketing initiatives. What messages are working and which aren’t? What channels are the most popular? How do your outreach initiatives compare with your competitors? Data analytics help marketers evaluate the past, analyze the present and predict the future. By incorporating analysis into a marketing plan, marketers gain valuable insights that help them create an unparalleled competitive edge.
- With roughly 57% of internet traffic coming from cell phones and tablets, optimizing for mobile is no longer an option, but a necessity. Google and other search engines have become increasingly mobile-first to reflect the widespread use of phones and tablets over desktop computers. Continually optimize your content to ensure marketing messaging and branding comes across on all devices.
- Email Marketing. Despite being a pillar of our communication today, email tech is changing constantly. In fact, 54% of marketers say increasing email engagement is their top marketing priority. Automation software such as Constant Contact and Mailchimp make campaigns, newsletters and email blasts more manageable. Additionally, incorporating graphics such as photography, graphs, charts and video can keep your emails fresh and appealing.
Before any technology becomes an integral component of our business lives, it first goes through many stages. “Tried and tested” is a vital aspect to selecting and adopting technologies. Below are the trending technologies that are up-and-coming, and many marketers agree they will transform how we conduct work in the future.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies have come to the forefront in recent years and are growing in interest, acceptance and use. Machine learning is a field of computer science that uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” from data, without being explicitly programmed. When used in conjunction with the technology we already have, personalization becomes highly achievable. Machine learning gives our programs intel about our prospects, their buying habits and their challenges so we (and our AI) know what they’re looking for. The field is expected to grow exponentially with 73% of marketing executives seeing AI or a technology dependent on AI as critical to the future of marketing.
- Already in use for many B2C marketers, bots can take the place of FAQs, paying bills, making a reservation or customer service support lines. An approachable and accessible chatbot can answer more questions while maintaining 24-hour service for a cost far less than an employee. Even with some hesitation from customers who would prefer human interaction, a huge 48% of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other means of contact.
- Geolocation tech. This technology has already changed the way SEO works and continues to make personalization the way of the future. By identifying a user’s exact location via IP address, geolocation technology has had significant impact on B2C marketing when finding a storefront in necessary. Its effects are also seen in B2B marketing in terms of demographics, locality and interests.
- Voice-first computing. Widespread use of voice recognition software such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana has also changed SEO. Change for this technology has been exponential, and many marketers see it as “the next big wave.” In fact, 20% believe voice-first technologies and smart assistants will have the most significant impact on marketing in the coming year.
- Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Not just affecting marketing, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have the power to change business transactions across the board. Many believe traditional banking solutions are on their way out, and the widespread use of blockchain transaction data and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Litecoin, may take its place. The opportunities for global markets, reliable privacy and ease-of-access are big, but a lot of progress is yet to be made. Only 8.4% of marketers believe these technologies will change marketing by next year, but many are looking further down the line.
There is no doubt that some new technologies will continue to grow. Others will fizzle or fade away as time goes on. With an eye on the future and a commitment to continuous improvement, we grow as individuals, as a marketplace and as a society. When you incorporate forward-thinking and innovation into your marketing plan, it helps you develop and maintain a competitive edge, capitalize on emerging trends, leverage data and create success for the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gerri Knilans is president of Trade Press Services. As marketing communications strategists, serving organizations of all sizes and types since 1995, the company provides writing, media outreach and general marketing support to help clients accelerate growth and generate more visibility, credibility and name recognition in their marketplaces. For additional information,