One of the most exciting facets of marketing and sales is that while the fundamentals of good marketing and sales don’t change much, virtually everything else does. Technologies come and go. New channels continue to emerge, and philosophies on buyer behaviors are always evolving.
With that in mind, and based on my experience working as the vice president of marketing for a data orchestration solutions company, here are five tech-driven marketing and sales predictions to consider as you look forward to the coming year.
1. Data scientists will become marketing’s ‘shiny new object.’
Business intelligence and analytics software have been around for more than 20 years. For much of that time, the data cleaning, standardization and transformation work to make that software useful was done by interns, using Excel, huddled in tiny cubes, under fluorescent lights. After countless hours of manual, tedious, mind-numbing processing, that data finally saw the light of day in a polished PowerPoint presentation shown to a leadership team perhaps once a quarter.
With modern data orchestration software’s ability to clean and standardize data, a wealth of data visualization tools and a focus on making data-driven decisions today rather than merely reporting on what happened in the past, I believe the dawn of the modern marketing data scientist has arrived.
Based on the analysis of emerging positions listed on members’ LinkedIn profiles, there were more than six times as many data scientists in 2017 than in 2012 — and plenty of open roles listed as well. Given this, it’s likely that chief marketing officers (CMOs) in 2019 will be boasting about their new data scientists the same way they were talking about their new account-based marketing project last year.
2. Stack rationalization projects will go mainstream.
I think that the days of CMOs creating a marketing technology (martech) stack with “one of everything” are quickly coming to an end. Even though marketers are spending more and more on martech solutions, according to Forrester, companies are realizing that “less is more.”
With a white-hot labor market, the champions behind many product investments have moved on. Managers are finding that some solution investments aren’t providing the value they were promised because they don’t have the data quality they need to succeed. Companies are also finding more feature overlap among their existing purchases.
With all these factors, marketing teams in 2019 are more likely to take a step back and prune their stacks, many of which may have resulted from binge-buying in previous years.
3. AI buzzword messaging finally wanes (and not a moment too soon).
A year ago, it was difficult to walk the floor of a marketing tradeshow without stumbling on a booth where the lead message began with “AI for …” as if every marketer’s highest priority was merely obtaining those two letters.
Marketers have gotten smarter over the past year, and they’re starting to understand that AI (artificial intelligence) may not be the silver bullet they seek. They’re now starting to figure out what data they need to feed the AI to make it actually useful, and how to use those AI predictions.
I believe that in 2019, sales and marketing teams’ irrational exuberance for the term will moderate to the point where marketers will go back to focusing more on benefits and value, with AI falling back to second- or third-level messaging, where it belongs. This can’t happen soon enough.
4. Marketing automation will become table stakes while other engagement apps build momentum.
Arguably, the most exciting thing to happen in the marketing automation market this year was the eye-popping sale price of a leading provider. Practically everyone has a marketing automation solution already, and there are plenty of low-cost options for companies that are coming to realize they’ll likely never use more than one-tenth of the functionality of their current system.
The “fear of missing out” (FOMO) buying behavior will likely come from solutions promising alternative ways of reaching a prospect whose inbox is chock-full of uninspired emails from marketing automation and sales engagement platforms. I believe chatbots, live chat tools and video marketing platforms will continue to gain traction by giving marketers hope in connecting with their prospects.
5. Managing data processes and improving data quality will become a priority.
A few years ago, managing data processes and data quality wasn’t anyone’s priority. At best, marketers shelled a few dollars to buy contact info for their leads. But this is changing fast, as marketers realize that critical marketing processes like attribution, lead and account scoring, segmentation, and lead routing need continuously cleansed data to work effectively.
Today, cleansed, deduped, normalized and lead-to-account-matched has become critical for just about any marketing process. Therefore, I believe more marketers will make data management a priority in the year to come.
With these predictions, the year ahead promises to be an exciting time for business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers and salespeople who are ready to embrace these new technology-driven trends.