As we start the new year it’s time to reflect on how much has changed in marketing during the last year. The new technologies available to us and the new ways in which we can engage with buyers, it’s clear to see that the marketing world has changed drastically. As such, we have made our predictions for what 2016 could have in store for marketers.
Marketing will no longer be the support function
The dynamic between sales and marketing has already begun to adapt in recent years. More and more businesses are now seeing the benefit of lead nurturing strategies, where leads are not passed straight over to sales. Instead leads are nurtured by marketing, often with high quality content distributed via nurture programmes, and only passed over to sales when they are deemed to be sales qualified.
The way that sales and marketing work together will continue to evolve in 2016. Marketing will become even less of a support function for sales and instead will be an integral part of the business development function. The marketing function will be held accountable for not only lead generation but also for sales conversions. This change has and will continue to force marketers to focus on the quality rather than quantity of leads generated. Sales enablement, a term that describes the process of providing the sales person with as much information as possible to help assist the conversion of an opportunity into revenue, will also become a key priority for the marketing team.
The Digital Marketer will be no more
No we haven’t gone mad by suggesting that digital marketing is coming to an end. Instead that digital marketing spans across all marketing activity and all marketing roles, so therefore the term digital marketing is no longer a niche skill but a necessary part of all marketing activity.
Where marketing departments have been traditionally structured by marketing channels and disciplines, with each person or team working in their own silos, the marketing structure of the future will be structured by the prospect journey. Marketers have no choice but to be digitally savvy and to keep up to date with the latest technology. And instead of being a specialist in a particular marketing tactic, such as email marketing, marketers will need to be much more focused on the customer experience across multiple touch-points, creating a seamless integrated marketing strategy.
The rise of the Marketing Technologist
Technology is becoming increasingly important to marketers. The Marketers role now includes choosing the right marketing technology, as well as ensuring the technology is effectively implemented and utilised. We predict that in 2016 businesses will be looking to appoint a Marketing Technologist within the marketing team.
The Marketing Technologist will be responsible for the technology strategy and ensuring that all systems are integrated. This unique role requires someone who is technically minded as well as having a good understanding of marketing strategy. They need to be able to choose the right technology to enable effective delivery of the marketing plan as well as being hands on to implement, train and solve issues.
They will also need to have a really good understanding of how all systems integrate with one another. The website, web analytics, email marketing platforms, PPC, marketing automation, CRM systems, social media networks, are just some of the systems that a marketing team will be using. The Marketing Technologist will need to effectively manage the integration of all systems and ensure that suitable tracking is in place to allow for true ROI reporting.
Smaller businesses who do not have the budget or skills in house to fulfil the technology requirements for the marketing functions will be looking to outsource some of their marketing activity, such as website management, marketing automation and data analysis.
Marketing Automation will become more commonly used in small to medium sized businesses
Marketing Automation technology has started to become more widely recognised in the Marketing World in 2015, but still less than 10% of small to medium sized companies have adopted it. At a recent B2B marketing event that Beanstalk held at the DMA, we discovered that a third of delegates were already using the software, and two thirds were not using it or considering using it.
The software, if used correctly, allows marketers to carry out behavioural based marketing, sending communications to prospects based on their behaviour and interaction. It allows for nurturing campaigns to be put in place, whereby prospects interactions with multiple marketing touch-points are scored to enable improved personalisation of messaging and prioritisation of leads.
It is however a challenging and costly strategy to implement and many have made mistakes in the early adoption of the new technology. This has led to an increase in marketing agencies providing consultation and support services for businesses wishing gain to the benefits of marketing automation technology.
We predict that more small to medium sized businesses will begin to use marketing automation technology in 2016 to allow them to deliver smarter marketing campaigns and improve conversion rates. But many will do this with the support of an agency that has experience in delivering marketing automation campaigns.
Content Marketing will become less effective
Content Marketing Strategies have been embraced by most businesses in 2015. It is an effective way of engaging with prospects, demonstrating your expertise and building credibility and trust over a period of time. It’s a strategy used to generate leads by gating high quality content as well as nurturing leads with targeted content.
Mark Shaefer predicted in January 2014 that there would be a point where the amount of content available would be hugely above our capacity to consume. The reality is that we are getting closer to this point that Mark Shaefer labelled ‘Content Shock’.
This doesn’t mean the end of content marketing, but what it does mean is that we need to be more strategic in how we personalise, and distribute our content so that we reach the right people, with the right message at the right time. Sharing of content is likely to reduce, so we can no longer rely on our prospects to aid the distribution of our content. New channels for content distribution will need to be considered, such as mobile apps as a way of delivering content directly to your prospects in a way that is easy for them to access.