Marketing automation has been somewhat of a blessing to many employed in the field; it’s freed up a lot of time and reduced the tedium associated with repetitive tasks.
Automation swooped in providing a range of tools to save time and effort needed day to day. Still, the digital marketing landscape is evolving further, driven by changing consumer behaviour and demands; on average, consumers now spend more time online than ever but they’re after a more personalised experience overall, with authenticity facilitating sales.
Data will continue to reshape the digital landscape and drive engagement for consumers all the while allowing digital marketers to deploy more successful campaigns. There’s no need to worry about a robot takeover of marketing jobs just yet since it’s all about freeing up time, money, and getting better results.
Automation creates a multitude of ROI (return on investment) opportunities hence why it has some such a large influence on marketing’s development. Below are four of the ways marketing automation is evolving in 2018.
1. Contextual marketing
Most marketers can now agree that traditional advertising no longer works. Consumers don’t enjoy the inherently inauthentic nature of advertising, usually an interruption of what they’re watching (online or off), it’s too obviously shouting ‘buy me’ – this approach simply no longer holds appeal to the switched-on consumer.
Integrating advertising experiences contextually is seen much more favourably since the ads are tailored to individual customers. This, of course, requires automation to process and consolidate swathes of data into coherent and personalised content in a timely manner. Marketers will still have to create marketing content to be deployed in different scenarios but it’s with the help of automation and a customer data platform that the best opportunities will be selected for maximum success.
Contextual marketing is the next step up from personalisation, which reacts to demographic markers, encompassing indicators like location, mood, online behaviour to deliver the most relevant and engaging content. Companies are working hard on integrating different steps of the customer experience, looking to deliver consistency of messaging across the buying journey. This approach, however, is still in its infancy with only a few companies having the capacity and resources to implement contextual marketing across the board.
2. Semantic SEO
A little bit like an online mind reader, semantic SEO aims to decipher what kind of question the person typing words into a search bar is actually trying to answer. It’s about connecting those underlying dots and bringing the most relevant content, as fast as possible, to the end user.
Semantic SEO is used to boost traditional optimisation by adding automated analysis to traditional keyword strategy. This approach is about adding value to SEO for everyone involved as better content can be created and tailored to users whilst giving marketers a better understanding of user behaviour.
This marketing technique goes a long way to improve the traffic of a website by employing meaningful metadata through the removal of ambiguity in search queries and further creates clusters of content, grouped semantically by topic rather than keywords, developing meaningfully-connected networks that better respond to user searches. The traditional (even outdated) version of SEO relies on a rigid framework of keywords whilst the semantic version is a dynamic, evolving entity that’s responsive to language and context.
3. Virtual Reality (VR)
VR remains a slightly fringe and unexplored territory for many markets, not just marketers, but the possibilities are truly endless if the technology is well utilised.
One way of creating valuable marketing experiences in VR would be through touch-points whereby a user, through interactions with VR objects, for example, triggers branded content that’s at once unique and part of the wider VR experience. It’s unrealistic to think that this technology will be managed and deployed manually so automation will be the tool for most of VR-specific marketing content.
Currently, the technology doesn’t have mass-market reach due to cost limitations, but some companies are trying to add VR elements to their offerings. In 2017 Burberry partnered with Apple’s ARKit to add VR functionality to their fashion app by interacting with users’ camera feeds to digitally alter their surroundings with Burberry-inspired decorations by the artist Danny Sangra. Luxury brands, specifically, have always been focused on experiences and storytelling as ways of connecting and influencing consumers to purchase – VR takes this to the next level by growing the connection between consumer and brand in ever more personal ways.
4. Integrated email workflows
Whilst email workflows are nothing new and used by many marketers the world over, they’re now able to integrate triggers from places outside simply email campaigns.
Now a selection of behaviour triggers from display ads, social media, and beyond can be employed for new email content and marketing strategies. This method is more fluid and responsive to user activity providing specific and relevant messaging at the right time to improve engagement and hopefully boost conversion rates. Ultimately, it’s all about nurturing leads in the most relevant way by tailoring integrated email workflows for specific points in the customer journey.
One of the benefits of this new approach is reducing what customers perceive as spam communication, helping to retain that customer’s positive perception of a brand. Customers don’t want their inboxes flooded with irrelevant emails or hard sells when they’re simply searching for information and it’s more important than ever for companies to address customer’s individual needs through relevant marketing content.
The future of marketing automation is inevitably a personalised one. Customers will continue to search out brands and experiences that feel specifically tailored to them, turning further away from mass-messaging. The value of marketing automation then lies in delivering personalised marketing campaigns that feel innovative, authentic, and relevant