Marketing is in a state of disarray. The people and tools are disjointed, unable to deliver the speed and efficiency that the digital customer journey demands. The current system wonâ€™t last much longer. Technology designed to pull tools, process, and people together is going to rapidly make the inefficient systems of today obsolete. The problem wonâ€™t be solved by some line of ingenious code, but with a complete re imagination of how marketing is executed. The sheer number of tools, processes, and people involved, combined with the creative nature of the field, makes marketing an especially complex area for a robust, radical, and technical solution to be applied, but thatâ€™s also why it so desperately needs one–and itâ€™s almost here.
How we got to the current state of marketing technology.
The need for a new system can be traced back to the infancy of digital marketing and the first wave of cloud-based tools developed for email and SEO organically and digital media buying on the paid side. Although this first generation of marketing tools succeeded in increasing productivity and output, they also created a new set of problems. They were built to fit the pre-digital marketing workflow that has been around since the mad men era. Without a new system for the digital age, marketing technology has become a crowded and inefficient ecosystem of disparate tools, talent, and technology that is both slow and fails to effectively use the vast ocean of data and connectivity of today’s global digital economy.
An issue that has plagued the marketing technology industry is that the large incumbent players spend lots of money improving product lines, but not on new initiatives that challenge the traditional models, I think Adobe and Oracle are both examples of this stalled innovation. Even when these large companies acquire smaller ones and consolidate the crowd of marketing technologies, they fail to significantly alter the marketing process toward a more productive system. Marketers continue to struggle with siloed agencies, internal teams, consultants, and testing and management tools. Marketing is in limbo, the tools are advanced but the model is notâ€”itâ€™s like driving a Ferrari with the engine of a Ford Pinto.
The tipping point.
The general rule of thumb for predicting whether a technology will be disruptive is it demonstrates the potential for at least 10x better performance than the status quo. We have now seen a handful of marketing platforms that can deliver improvements of that magnitude or greater. Weâ€™re at the tipping point.
What the future holds.
This next wave of technology will completely alter the way marketing is executed. As companies like Uber and AirBnB have demonstrated, providing the data and platform that quickly and effectively connects people and resources is the true value of a disruptive technology. Marketing has a huge opportunity to implement a similar system, albeit more complex than the taxi or hotel model. By leveraging increasing connectivity and an ecosystem of tools and talent, marketing can shift away from the historically siloed tools and teams of the past towards a fast and cohesive process that pulls everything together. Itâ€™s a big challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
Addressing scale and speed.Â
So what makes marketing such a hard nut to crack? Speed and scale. Marketers canâ€™t get enough content to feed their audience, and what they do manage to create is both expensive and slow. Close your eyes and imagine this. In five years we will have a system that connects marketers with creative talent to produce high quality, competitive content that is automatically versioned out into hundreds, even thousands of optimized and personalized pieces of individual content that can be targeted to every single member of your audience across the customer journey. Not only that, but the whole process will continuously automate for better performance. Thatâ€™s where weâ€™re headed.
In the last 15 years, digital experiences have been the fastest growing element of the customer journey. Marketers can now reach larger audiences and access an astounding amount of data and customer information that was almost inconceivable a couple years back. Effectively scaling those experiences to take advantage of that data is the work we are doing now. The upshot is hugeâ€”brands that can deliver better experiences will have a massive competitive advantage. In just a few short years we will see, for the first time, the full extent of what an optimized customer journey at scale will look like.