A lot of our predictions for 2016 [in Dutch] came true and a number of them are still stuck in a pre-natal phase. For 2017 we did a roundup of the areas among the consultants at Oxyma in Rotterdam, but also among our sisters Oogst (digital marketing) Your Social (content & social media marketing) and aFrogleap (mobile agency). What’s on the agenda for your company 2017?
The rise of conversational commerce
What we’re seeing in campaigns is that people want to get in touch with other people directly and get good, relevant help. Not to call some switchboard number, but to talk directly to someone who can tell you more about the promotion you just got in your email. And by the same token, companies want to show a customer just the right message at the right time and in the right channel. Companies increasingly have access to a complete customer profile, which is complemented by smart systems that transform this customer knowledge into a contact advice available in all channels.
We are now seeing that virtual assistants like Siri and Google Now are becoming smarter, and can be used with or within private chat applications. These assistants always listen to you, and are always accessible (including through wireless earphones, Google Home and Amazon Echo). This then opens a new channel that we as marketers can use: the chat.
Data management platforms
Customers require tremendous sensitivity from us about the signals they put out. An ad someone stops getting sent once they make their purchase in an online shop, the dealer who calls when the car needs a maintenance check and many other interactions are possible only if we capture all the signals from a customer. Browsing habits, travel and check-in behavior, location, and media use are all examples of (big) data sources that you need to be able to personalize effectively. Data management platforms (DMPs) make this possible.
DMPs are the link between the customer profile and a multitude of sources. They disclose this information in real-time as needed for personalization of websites, online ads and other channels. We assist a number of customers with the DMP selection processes, meeting regularly with such names as Adobe audience manager, Relay42, Blueconic and IBM UBX.
Next best marketing activity
The promise of true one-to-one marketing, the right message at the right time and through the right channel, is something we’ve only recently been able to do. Driven by the need for companies to have all customer data centrally available, DMPs link web behavior to this customer information and contact channels. Added to this, there is also an emerging awareness among marketers that we must be relevant and must think in terms of customer journeys.
With next best marketing activity, you step away from campaigns you run on segments and instead determine at the customer level what is relevant at that moment. This calls for a complete 360 in how you deal with communication. So, for example, you need to think about all the messages you want to offer a customer upstream. Similarly, the logic and decision-making rules that determine what you are offering and when, all need to be set down. This is a lot of work, places high demands on your technical infrastructure (e.g. IBM interact, Pega, etc.) and for marketers entails a fundamentally different way of working.
Data driven creativity
By now everyone has seen annual summaries, birthday wishes and other data-driven concepts. Even the insight into energy consumption is something we all know about. In the future, we’re going to see aggregated data actually forming the basis of campaigns and that in-depth insights will stimulate creatives into coming up with smart data-driven concepts.
Spotify already playfully advertises with data and bol.com sent out an anniversary/birthday email in 2016 the same way. Data driven creatives let their creativity run free with data driven campaigns. Consumers get more and more of their own data back so that it makes sense and has a clear benefit for them. We’re just waiting for the first personalized goodie bags as a gift during a flight in business class.
Content, content, content
We recently asked some CMOs where they see things going in the coming years. Because of the enormous amount of data at our disposal, it is now possible to create individual campaigns. But creating unique content takes a lot of time and is often not a core discipline of large organizations. The question is how organizations structure themselves in terms of capabilities, processes and systems in order to properly meet the increasing demand for content.
Privacy and the new EU privacy regulation
Customer data and privacy are increasingly boardroom themes. What you know about your customers has value and that should be reflected on your balance sheet. In its privacy study the DDMA shares a number of important conclusions and recommendations. Among other things, that a one-size-fits-all approach is not sufficient for all customers. Large groups actually have a very different conception of privacy. Their recommendation is for transparency and information.
Since May 2016 a new EU regulation has been adopted that must be implemented by May 2018. Do you need a privacy officer? Has a Privacy Impact Assessment been done? Is a record being kept? These are all things that have to be checked in 2017 for you to be ready for 2018.
Deep learning and artificial intelligence applications are slowly creeping into our daily lives. Google’s autosuggest feature, which facilitates searching, cars that keep in their lanes by themselves, a thermostat that senses when the heating needs to be switched on, or the voice of Siri and Google Now. These are all applications that make consumer’s lives easier.
But this also means there are other things for marketers to do. IBM Watson, Adobe Sensei, Salesforce Einstein are AI platforms that are going to help us in our everyday marketing activities. For example, in selecting the right target audience, providing insight into vast amounts of data, choosing the right message, and in rapidly speeding up the photo editing process.
The foggy future of artificial intelligence
(Service) Design Thinking
Service design is a design discipline that applies design methodologies in order to design new valuable services and optimize existing services. Service design is a process for improving experiences that occur during different interaction points at different times.
Call it an approach – or better yet, a way-of-thinking, acting and doing, – that you’re going to hear more about in 2017. We ourselves have been convinced for a while, as have Rabobank, Deutsche Telekom, BMW AG and Lloyd bank. All these organizations have set up design thinking groups or are working on this approach as a foundation within (digital) transformation programs.
Video explaining service design
The average marketer has dozens of specialized tools at their disposal to do their job. A CMS, OMS, DMP, A/B testing, ad management, web analytics, BI, personalization and many other systems link things up so we can offer the most relevant message possible and make the results insightful. IBM, Salesforce, Adobe, Selligent and Oracle all believe this can definitely be much easier. Increasingly, you see that on the one hand, suppliers offer more functionality such as campaign management combined with digital analytics and a DMP. And on the other hand, it has become almost a precondition that systems be easy to integrate. The marketing systems you have now will need to be reviewed periodically in order to avoid inefficiencies and unnecessary licensing fees.
We therefore expect that in 2017 the Martech infrastructure in large organizations will become increasingly consolidated and that each department (with customer interaction) is going to be asking itself, “Do we still have the right architecture to deliver the best CX to our customers?”
Ok. So there’s plenty to do in 2017. The question is whether your organization is flexible enough to bring about real change to some of these areas. Do you have people with the right knowledge and innovative spirit, is there enough commitment from the Board, and there is a budget to finance these changes? We’re curious to learn about the developments you’re expecting in 2017!