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Last week the Marketing Nation Summit 2015 – one of the world’s largest marketing events – was held in California.  More than 7.000 people were pouring into the event this year, compared to only 1.500 visitors two years ago. This rapid increase indicates how relevant the latest technologies and integrated processes have become for marketing.

The main focus of the event was clearly on innovations in connection with marketing automation. But also the dialogue about best practices with suppliers of innovative products and technologies was an essential element of the programme.

INSPIRATION was the motto of this year’s summit. And indeed, there were many great  presentations on the hottest marketing topics.

The highlights of the marketing trends 2015

1. Central control of all marketing activities in one platform

Today’s marketers essentially use three applications – their own communication, the internet for information procurement and marketing platforms.  All activities, such as marketing planning, success control, budget management, marketing channel management (campaigns, ads, social media, data management, marketing processes) are typically performed on these platforms. Leading suppliers of marketing automation software are adapting to this development, working on a gradual expansion of their systems to integrate additional functionalities through apps.
As a result, technology partners are able to access and connect to these platforms through open interfaces. Marketo customers, for instance, use on average a minimum of three additional apps integrated in their marketing automation platform.

2. Predictive marketing

This allows for gathering and analysis of data on future buying behavior –  even with little information on the respective lead or contact. Consequently, forms can be considerably reduced, as the information available can be enriched with external or historical data, so that leads can be allocated to potential  “buying groups”.
This, in turn, can be used by content recommendation engines , which  connect segmented information and user behavior to a self-learning process. In the future, marketers will only set “development goals“ for their target groups and then, as a next step, the system determines which content they are interested in and which marketing channel should be used for their content distribution. True to the motto: “Let the systems do the driving“.

3. B2B and B2C grow together

The previously strict separation between B2B and B2C is becoming increasingly blurred.  The pharma industry clearly reflects this trend: In this segment, marketing activities are targeted at doctors and end consumers. But also for telecommunication companies the separation of B2B and B2C no longer holds true: Business customers and retailers, as well as small companies and end consumers must be equally reached. Ideally, this should be run on a single platform to ensure a consistent brand identity.

4. Marketing Automation & Online Advertising

Integration of online advertising into the marketing automation platform, e.g.  Adbridge from Marketo to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google. These days nurturing does not start with known leads, but already begins with anonymous leads, who click on an online ad. In this way, nurturing can actively be used for converting anonymous leads into known leads.

5. Life Cycle Management

Focus is not only on leads anymore, but on the overall customer life cycle management: A company should understand how to send the right communication at the right time, while “listening” to their customers. What does that mean in practical terms?  For instance, a company should never send any offers to customers when these have just raised an issue with customer service. That is to say, a customer should not receive an offer for purchasing a new airline credit card when his flight just got cancelled and he therefore missed an important meeting.

6. Real-time personalization

Real-time personalization is becoming increasingly important.Leading MAP-suppliers have already integrated this functionality as a standard in their products. It supports the creation of dynamic web pages in real-time, depending on target segments, and also the generation of personalized content.

7. Predictive Analytics for Campaigns

With predictive campaign ranking campaigns are not measured against the accomplished revenue contribution alone anymore – the generated leads are now assigned to a cluster that contributes a certain revenue based on historical data. This is particularly helpful, when the sales cycles are quite long and it’s hard to make any predictions about the success of a campaign before the end of the year.

8. The internet of things mixes things up

The internet of things pushes the restructuring of marketing organizations: Products like the Apple watch will revolutionize the new marketing channels and by that, marketing itself. Internet will be integrated in every product, providing the possibility to communicate with potential customers anytime anywhere. In the future, not every conversation will be a “comprehensive“ content piece, such as an e-book for instance, but quite possibly rather a short message or a brief concept. Excellent, entertaining content is becoming increasingly important, as also in B2B we compete for the attention of our customers 24/7. Due to its high number, it is quite logical that for marketing there is no getting around these channels anymore.

9. Agile Marketing

Where once the CMO had to prepare and implement his marketing plan long in advance, modern marketing teams today use agile marketing.
This means, targets are prioritized and set every other week; target achievement is updated on a daily basis. That allows for flexible reactions to market feedback, timely campaign adaptation to the actual results and a more productive way of working.  Today marketing is often “trial and error“. In order to be successful, results must be constantly observed, analyzed and optimized.

Hence, not only the implementation of a marketing automation platform is important, but also regular process improvements, creation of new ideas and effective data utilization are absolutely vital for long term success.

Analytics are all the rage and the more you know about your customers, the leaner your communication strategies can get. Learn about the Uplift Model and how it not only helped the US president to gain more votes but also how it can help you to address only those customers that will listen.

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