2019 brought its share of breakthroughs in marketing technology (MarTech), and 2020 is on pace to bring more of the same. To help you better identify the opportunities and challenges the coming year will bring, here are three trends that will likely have an impact on many organizations.
Companies face countless challenges when it comes to using data. Even once you’ve theoretically figured out what you’d like to create in terms of experience – the infamous “omnichannel experience” – the road to get there through the torrents of data you’re collecting can be less clear. With a series of specialized tools for email, advertising, analytics and more, how can you create a complete, coherent experience? For marketers, the challenge is real, and in order to fulfill the promise of an omnichannel experience, many of you will make the acquisition of a customer data platform (CDP).
If you still don’t know what a CDP is, I encourage you to read my article on the subject. And we are apparently not the only ones to believe that CDPs will be a major trend in 2020. Gartner also identified CDPs as one of the four technologies likely to change the face of the MarTech landscape in the coming years.
CDPs will play a starring role in 2020 because they have the ability to help organizations tackle an array of challenges. First off, they help marketers create true omnichannel experiences by centralizing information in a single location, preventing siloed experiences once and for all. CDPs can also help manage customer data by offering advanced protection tools, and making it easier to respect laws and regulations such as the GDPR.
Finally, in 2020, CDPs will be known as the tool organizations use to manage audiences without needing to depend on an activation channel. A CDP essentially allows you to create and activate audiences when and where you need them, whether it’s for email, online ads, personalized website banners, analytics tools, chatbots, mobile notifications or anything else. You might say that in 2020, the idea of omnichannel will become less theoretical and more concrete thanks to the democratization and use of CDPs.
Audiences are the most concrete expression of the fact that your data is a real asset for your company. Think of it as the energy that propels each of your marketing activities – because for every initiative you launch, you will need to ask the question, “Who do I want to talk to?” It’s only by segmenting your user data that you can target the right audience for your needs.
Managing audiences is becoming an increasingly important practice for several reasons. First off, to offer an omnichannel experience, you need to manage your audiences in such a way that you are communicating with the user based on where they are in their customer journey. Not only do you need to respect that context, but you also have to act in the right place, by deploying your audiences on the right channel.
Audience management will move into the spotlight in 2020 partly due to the increasingly opaque nature of third-party data. Data from platforms like Facebook, Google and others is not clearly defined; as a result, it’s very hard to ascertain the content and quality of third-party data. For example, if you were targeting fitness lovers, you would have a hard time figuring out what made Facebook or Google decide to include or exclude a potential user.
In 2020, the idea of “audiences,” which we have so far tended mostly to associate with digital advertising, will extend to all marketing channels. And audience management will allow organizations to be both more efficient and more relevant.
In many organizations, email is the only owned communications tool available to communicate with users. This dependance on a single communications channel will disappear in 2020 with the appearance of new communications channels.
A dependence on paid media, which no longer allows users to be tracked in the same way, will likely be one thing that motivates organizations to add new owned channels. Among other things, the advent of technology that limits our ability to track users across the web, is prompting organizations to ask themselves whether their product lends itself to a short purchase cycle or a long one.
This question is an important one because, with Safari, for example, the lifespan of a tracking cookie allowing you to identify a user on your website is no longer two years, as it once was; it can now be as short as 24 hours. (Learn all about browsers’ tracking protection mechanisms here.) For organizations whose products or services have a longer purchase cycle, migration to an owned communication channel will become paramount in order to maintain contact with potential customers long enough to close a transaction.
To maximize the migration from paid to owned channels, email is not enough. You need to leverage the strengths of every direct channel. As a result we’re going to see email paired with direct messaging tools on websites, online chat tools, text messaging and mobile notifications. Organizations that have taken control of their user data shouldn’t have too much trouble executing this leveraging of owned channels.
For those of you who have already laid the foundation for good customer data management, 2020 will be a year for continual optimization. For organizations still catching up on the data front, the coming year might just be one where challenges compound quickly.