Allen Nance: Does Modern Marketing Scale?
Digital marketing leaders continue to promise consumers a true 1:1 personalized interaction. We have all said it, preached it, and many of us have it tattooed somewhere. Right Message. Right Time. Oh, Right Channel. Recently. Right Person.
Simple: load up the data, drag and drop, press magic button, personalization.
We are all very talented (ok, most of us), we understand the difficulties of implementing marketing technology. At the beginning of time, or at least, once the Internet showed up, there was but a few marketing technologies to chose from. Now we have watched the industry explode from a few hundred marketing technology providers to many thousands (and growing).
I can't stop thinking, does modern marketing scale? What will it take for our industry to deliver on the promise of marketing. I am first and foremost a consumer of digital experiences. It is hard to be a leader in the industry and not have high expectations for our future. So this question of how to scale personal interactions has begun to consume me. At least professionally. I promise not to let it interfere with the family, drinking wine, or surfing (in that order).
Why doesn't it scale? A couple of reasons jump out at me. First, managing data is still difficult. Very difficult. Multiple disparate sources, integration challenges, silos, oh, did I mention before thousands upon thousands of point solutions. Secondly, the consumer won't stop moving. I laughed out loud when I wrote that sentence. As a consumer I want to do what is best for me, as a marketer I want to scream "stop running around". It is like I am the parent marketer. Why can't I move around and be hard to find? Parent Marketer. Because I said so.
Don't worry, we have a new answer. Everyone is talking about big data, data science, machine learning, and my favorite artificial intelligence. Maybe the new formula is: load up "big" data, drag and drop, press better magic button, personalization. Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic.
These emerging technologies are going to allow us greater capabilities. However, I think the answer is more systemic. Across the board we need to fundamentally rethink, reshape, and revolutionize the role of the marketer. I can only speak for myself, I didn't get into marketing technology to out drag and drop someone. I envision a world where the Progressive Marketer is not just an evolutionary step but it is truly a revolution. I like the word progressive for several reasons but most importantly, it is step by step. I almost called it Hype-free Marketer. Was certainly funnier but not intellectual enough, this is the part of the post where you roll your eyes and either stop reading or start laughing (this is the friend foe test).
Artificial Intelligence will not replace marketers, but it will revolutionize the role of the marketer in marketing technology. Progressive Marketers will focus on strategy, content, and creative. The marrying of the marketer and the machine will be 1 + 1 = 3.
How will artificial intelligence marketing (AIM) come to life. Again, I promised, limited hype. So let’s get specific. So many of the decisions related to marketing technology (automation) are humans guessing. What is the right channel? Be honest, when we drag and drop, we are guessing. I have done it. Actually I did it today, and yesterday. Drag this content, wait X days, send Y message, then if Z, test H. Deciding what order and what channel a consumer wants to be interacted with is extremely difficult (if not impossible). This blog is not about everything we do sucks, and oh, did I mention, I have a better way. It is a challenge I have personally been researching. What is beyond modern marketing, beyond drag and drop?
What about content? We experience product recommendations (personalization) almost every day. This is a good example, but it has not reached much scale beyond the browser. Omni-channel content recommendations and personalization is technically doable. We all know that. So what is stopping us? I mentioned data. Similar issue here. I have never been in a meeting where a marketer told me their goal for next year was to be less personal and send crappier messages. No one says that. Every marketer (modern or progressive) wants to deliver the promise of 1:1 personal interaction. This is as much a content challenge as it is a data challenge. Our marketing technology will begin leveraging data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to present content in real-time at scale, but it will require that we focus on and continue to become better content creators. In order to scale content execution, we will need it better organized and more accessible.
Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) will bridge the gap between data science and campaign execution. The marketing technology decisions such as which channel next, which content, and when to interact will be machine driven. Not just analytics, but actual campaign execution. The good news is it will create the opportunity for Progressive Marketers to spend a greater portion of our time on strategy, content, and creative.
I am excited about the future of marketing technology. My obsession with scaling personal interactions is grounded in the fact that I am on the other end of that drag and drop. Revolutionizing the role of the marketer will require rethinking how we are executing campaigns, not just evolving towards a better segmentation tool or A/B tester.