In the wonderful world of marketing technology (MarTech), the only constant is change—and 2020 will be no exception. Some trends will be the result of transformative technology becoming more accessible. On the other hand, data won’t be as accessible as it once was between increased data regulation and privacy concerns. The key to navigating these trends successfully is keeping yourself informed on why they matter and what their impact will be. So, let’s dive into three of the top MarTech trends to keep in mind over the next year.
Trend 1. Optimize Personalization With Machine Learning
Research shows that 71 percent of consumers are frustrated at the lack of personalization in their buying experiences. Some brands may be concerned about executing personalization because it requires a lot of data (and access to data may become more fleeting as data privacy laws take over the U.S.). That said, reports have shown time and time again that consumers don’t mind data collection as long as brands prove they’re using it to improve experiences. But where do you start? Small, iterative machine learning (ML) experiments.
To be clear, not all types of ML work the same. Predictive analytics, specifically, helps with personalization because it can identify patterns in what drove sales for similar types of customers in the past. Another way predictive analytics lends itself to personalization? Location-based offers. Here’s how it works: Customers may be more likely to purchase depending on their physical location whether they are in front of a product in-store or near a store itself. But, how do brands know which offers will resonate for these stores or products? By tracking purchasing behavior within a specific store section, shop, or even neighborhood, brands can use that data to predict what offers are most likely to resonate in the future.
Plus, you don’t need an internal AI team to start exploring the benefits of ML (after all hiring the right talent can take months). Outsourcing ML to a third-party software development team ensures you’ll have the expertise you need to get started right away. Before you pick an AI developer, however, keep in mind the following questions to ensure the vendor can meet your needs:
- What is your approach to building ML algorithms? Is it iterative?
- How do you determine whether ML is actually a viable solution? What experiments do you set up to determine viability?
- Do you use any existing market tools or models to ensure time isn’t wasted building an algorithm from scratch? What tools do you use and from where (i.e. Google ML)?
- For the problem we are hoping to solve, how long would it take to train the model?
Trend 2. Comply With New Data Privacy Laws
In January, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – will require that brands make it easy for consumers to opt-out of any and all data collection. And other states are expected to follow suit. To navigate the new era of increased data privacy, companies need to familiarize themselves with regulations as they evolve and take steps to comply. Marketers will need to decide which data they really need to build meaningful customer experiences while developing an incentivization strategy to ensure as few consumers as possible opt-out. Here are my recommendations:
- Be upfront. There’s a ton of data protected under CCPA – from name and email to race and political affiliation. Talk to users in an honest, human way about the data you are requesting and how you will use it. Once you determine the kind of data users are willing to provide, you can adjust your data collection tactics accordingly.
- Offer valuable incentives. Wondering how you can convince your customers to voluntarily offer up personal information to your brand? Try offering incentives in exchange for info on their preferences, buying habits, etc. These could come in the form of rewards points, cash-back, or even access to exclusive, relevant content.
- Be clear. Being evasive with your data tracking can send up a red flag to customers, but getting too technical might confuse them. Try to use straightforward and honest language within your opt-out policy. When in doubt, look to competitors to see how they’ve approached their own data privacy disclaimers.
- Make sure your data is CCPA-Ready. Upon request, brands must be able to provide consumers a report on any data collected within the last 12 months. Fulfilling these requests demands access to extremely well-segmented, centralized cross-channel data. To help, invest in a customer data platform or data orchestration platform to streamline your cross-channel data, track who’s opted-in and out, pull reports, and more.
Trend 3. Optimize For Different Types Of Search
Moving into 2020, both voice and visual search will expand dramatically. Of course, text-based search isn’t going away. Research has found that more than half the site traffic in the U.S. comes from mobile devices and 77 percent of consumers use their phones to compare prices on products while browsing the aisles in stores. But, how consumers use their phones to search is what will shift—increasingly, people will research and buy through voice search rather than text on their phones.
It’s forecasted that at least 50 percent of online searches will be conducted verbally on smartphones and through devices like Alexa and Google Home. Among other strategies, this means favoring natural language rather than keywords in web content and ditching overly technical language. Plus, as consumers grow to expect relevant, personalized answers no matter how they speak or what they need – companies will need to make adjustments to the search bar on their own sites, as well.
In other words, another major trend will be that companies invest heavily into keyword mapping and custom search on their own sites to ensure internal searches can keep up with this new expectation digital personal assistants have created.
Bottom line – MarTech is a rapidly evolving field and marketers need to remain equally dynamic to stay ahead. Revisit your marketing strategy to ensure a successful new year—and be ready for even more new trends to emerge throughout 2020 and beyond.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Elizabeth Gallagher, Chief Revenue Officer, Lineate
The Blake Project Can Help: Disruptive Brand Strategy Workshop
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education