As 2015 draws to a close, we inevitably start to reflect on the year just gone and have thoughts about what the next 12 months will have in store. For us marketing folk, this time of year also means we’re routinely subjected to the ‘new’ for next year, often scaremongered with industry buzzwords we ‘ought’ to know.
Trends, predictions and analysis worry us into either a) keeping up or b) getting ahead of the competition, but too many of us fall into the trap of focusing on the short-term fixes instead of delving deeper into solving the root issue for longer-term success.
So what’s the answer to our marketing prayers?
Last year’s predictions were all about content, and for good reason. With media continually proliferating and competition for eyeballs and attention spans increasing, it’s harder than ever for brands to get the right message, in the right context, to the right people, at the right time. That’s a lot to get right, right?
We know that it’s getting harder to encourage purchasing behaviour through email marketing alone, so the need for brands to produce content has been heightened; to add value, create trust and be seen as authentic. And the industry was waking up to this. At the beginning of 2015 Forbes outlined that 58% of B2B marketing budgets would increase spend on content and industry heavyweight Seth Godin told us to shift our marketing thinking from brand managers to editors.
It’s evolution rather than revolution next year, according to Warc and Deloitte Digital’s 2016 Toolkit, which continues the content-heavy theme, reporting that the next 12 months will see “an increased focus on content in a multitude of formats to penetrate the ever-decreasing attention spans of connected consumers.” Perhaps that 58% will go up a few percent in 2016.
Ok, so with content created, we need to distribute it. Unless you’ve got a marketing department the size of a small country, it’s going to be a difficult task to seed content across all owned, earned and paid media, as well as provide additional valuable content to your audience, using data to drive your decisions, once you’ve built up an idea of what motivates them.
So, is automating this process the answer?
Relatively recently the industry has woken up to automation – using content to nurture leads and convert them into paying customers. Marketing Automation Times defines Marketing Automation as ‘a subset of (CRM) that focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible.’
For me, automating your marketing assumes the entire process is hands-off. Sounds great doesn’t it – buy a bit of software, turn it on, reap the rewards. But can we really capture hearts and minds this way?
In reality, automation platforms are like fires, they need to be constantly fuelled with content, and lots of it. And I’m not talking just talking any content. Marketing automation makes it even more important to ensure that your content is relevant, useful and unique. But it’s the creative element that often gets lost by marketers, who constantly face the pressures and demands of churning out content and reporting ROI to the bosses upstairs.
Automation platforms are like fires, they need to be constantly fuelled with content, and lots of it.
Yes, we’ve all worked out that of course we need more content, but more importantly we need content that resonates on a human level with our audiences. There’s a ton of bad content out there, and as an industry we need to allow a little more time for creativity in every piece of content we produce.
Let’s dig a little deeper. To stoke the fire we know we need good content. To get good content we need more creativity. To get more creativity we need more creative thinkers who understand not only how these automated platforms work, but how to get the most out of them too.
What this ultimately means…
The rise of the ‘Martecher’
Undoubtedly the industry is constantly evolving, marketers of today have to pioneer an uncharted new world created by the shifting tectonic plates of marketing and technology colliding. Marketing is being disrupted.
We’re already starting to see the rise of a new breed of marketing animal – Martechers. These technical marketers are blessed with the skills to drive automation platforms and tools to get greater marketing mileage, with the creative nous to produce quality content. It’s no longer good enough to be a specialist in one niche area of marketing. The marketing heroes of today and tomorrow must have a broad knowledge and skills, utilising both sides of the brain in order to authentically connect with audiences and push our industry thinking forward. They’re the ones who will combine their thinking with technical knowledge to capture hearts and minds, and I’m excited to see how they shape marketing.
Not so much a trend then, but perhaps something to think about going into the new year. No matter how much we use technology to make tasks easier, businesses are still always built on human foundations. Make sure you’ve got the right people, with the right skills, driving yours.