Every January, marketers’ inboxes and social media feeds are flooded with reports and predictions excitedly promising all the ways that new, futuristic technologies will revolutionise marketing. From virtual reality to the metaverse, Bitcoin payments to NFTs, we’re repeatedly told that the role of marketing is about to change forever.
So, just how accurate are these predictions, and how many of them really come true?
In an analysis of over 2,000 trends and predictions made about marketing in January 2021, nearly 600 (more than one in four) were proven false by the end of the year. Of course, many others proved too vague to even test.
Now, as we move into 2022, the world of marketing is once again awash with prediction pieces focused on the biggest technology changes in the year ahead. While this sort of future-gazing content is great for grabbing headlines (something PR teams know all too well), it does little to help marketers prepare for the realities of their daily roles.
A whole new beast
Let’s look at the facts. In 2021, marketing budgets were slashed. According to Gartner, the average marketing budget dropped from 11% of revenue in 2020 to just 6.4% in 2021 – a record low. At the same time, workloads have increased, more work has moved in-house, and greater pressure has been placed on marketing teams to deliver measurable business results.
In addition, the role of marketing professionals has expanded dramatically. According to an Emarsys survey of over 500 marketers, nearly a third must now look after customer experience, brand management, digital marketing, CRM, customer retention and more. And that’s before they even start on the mountain of data analysis that has headed their way since their customers moved online.
Today, marketers spend more time preparing and segmenting data than any other tasks; more time, even, than they spend on content generation. Think about that for a minute: the average marketer spends more time dealing with numbers and spreadsheets than they do creative content. That’s a fundamental shift in the role.
So, what do we do about it?
To overcome these challenges and give power back to the marketer, marketers do need to embrace technology, but not the half-baked futuristic tech that’s being evangelised on social media. And they can’t drown in a sea of data, but data must empower decision making. What marketers need are practical tools and advice to help them navigate the complex business landscape that they now find themselves in.
With that in mind, I want to provide some real-world tips that I believe will help save marketers time, consolidate their workloads and zero in on the things that actually matter in 2022. Consider this my alternative to a ‘flashy’ tech predictions piece. These are ‘unpredictions’ – the things that marketers will have to grapple with in the here and now.
1. CX is your job now
There was a time when marketing and customer experience (CX) professionals were two entirely separate breeds. Now, 35% of marketers consider CX not just a fundamental part of their roles, but the most fundamental part.
Customer experience falls under marketing’s umbrella because marketers own the bulk of relationships with the brand – not to mention most of the touchpoints customers use to interact. If you want to meet the expectations of your customers, keep them happy and drive business results, you need to prioritise CX as a fundamental marketing objective.
To make the customer journey an experience worth repeating (whether digital, in-store, or both), great marketing teams must think beyond merely pushing messages in the hope of squeezing some extra cash out of people. Instead, they need drive customer loyalty by creating great experiences from end to end.
The first step to achieving that in 2022 will be to get your insights in order. That means unifying all your customer data so that it’s available from one place, and ensuring you have the right technology to use it in real time. Which brings me on to…
2. Your martech stack is full of holes. Fix it
We’ve all seen the martech landscape supergraphic mapping the 8,000-plus marketing technologies currently available. This excess of tech is a symptom of the deeply flawed idea that, for any problem or goal, all anyone needs to do is apply new software.
This software gluttony has resulted in data silos that damage the customer experience and disjointed campaign management processes, as well as a general burning of cash. In fact, according to one study, CMOs spend more than a quarter of their budgets on marketing tech, yet nearly 40% of this is wasted due to martech solutions that aren’t fully deployed.
If you want to make a real difference to your marketing in 2022, stop wasting money on single-use martech and focus on consolidating into a single cross-channel platform. Having everything in one place makes it far easier to see what moves the needle and why.
3. Free up marketers to be marketers
Face it, your bandwidth is limited. Not just because you’re a human being who needs to balance work with eating, sleeping and occasionally leaving the house, but also because you’re a marketer, which means your plate of responsibilities is overflowing.
This is where technology can actually help you. In 2022, marketers need to make the automation of data management and marketing processes a priority in order to give their teams time to focus on strategy, creative content and understanding customers.
Your ability to be creative is your most important attribute as a marketer. But if you’re looking for a way to waste your creative gifts and energy, look no further than the grind of repetitive basic tasks needed to bring campaigns to life. It’s the least glamorous part of the job.
Today, the technology exists to free you from those mundane aspects of marketing. That way, you can focus on what most of us really love to do – being creative.
None of these things are predictions. None of them are guesswork. These are all things that marketers can start doing today to face up to the challenges of 2022. Forget robots, Bitcoin and NFTs, and focus on answering the questions that really matter: What will save your teams time? What will your customers appreciate most? And what will add real value to your business’s bottom line?
Sara Richter is CMO at Emarsys.