Earlier this year, Apple launched its credit card at their Showtime event in the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. The event was another opportunity for Apple to showcase its technological prowess and, in entering the crowded credit card industry, the company bet heavy on users’ demand for greater user experience and security. The marketing technology for the product emphasized heavily on its integration with their iPhones and the unique experience and transparency they offer. This reflects an ongoing tussle within the technology industry. In today’s digital world, how do marketers like us tell our stories that reflect the differentiated experiences that we offer to our customers?
Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic change in the digital branding ecosystem around us. Technology has completely altered the landscape of next generation marketing and communications in pretty remarkable ways. The growing prevalence of social media, along with an increasingly digital-native consumer base, has changed the manner of communication between businesses, customers, their stakeholders, and the community and environment they serve. Today’s marketer must be equal parts creative, strategic, sales-oriented, tech-savvy, and analytical in the next generation marketing space.
Branding in the Digital Age
So how can companies build digital brands that speak to the new generation of customers and businesses? What will make digital branding campaigns successful? Last month, I got a working demonstration of this, when the shares of one of the leading technology service providers rose to an all-time high, on the news of the inauguration of their Cybersecurity Innovation Center. This made me think, what creates lasting brand value for a technology firm? And if our experience is anything to go by, then brands gain value when they are seen to be interested and investing in solving the long-term problems of their customers. This commitment to a vision, where technology becomes the ultimate enabler and multiplier of human potential, is what creates and sustains long-term brand value.
A few years back, Cisco had launched a campaign called “There’s Never Been a Better Time” which highlighted the power of technology to transform lives. The essence of the campaign was to talk about how technological advancements created real opportunities for the human civilization to connect better and create a better and more equitable world. And this is the real opportunity for us!
We need to be the ultimate chroniclers of the massive changes that is happening around us, craft our message intelligently, and provide a differentiated experience to our customers. With digital and marketing overdose a reality, we need to find where our customers are and engage with them without always selling our wares. Great tech brands are built on simple stories – with a core vision for humanity and a commitment to the society.
The Era of MarTech Revolution is here!
As we can see all around us, marketing technology is driving core operations all over the world. Adobe, Facebook, Google, and others have pioneered and perfected technologies that are leading the way in which we understand our customers and respond to their needs. This evolution is still very dynamic and with newer experiments every day, we are learning more about our customers than ever before.
We are already looking at the next generation of marketing and communications, one that is more intuitive and integrated with technology. Evolving ideas such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), voice-search, facial recognition, IoT and more are creating new channels and platforms to reach out and connect. Communication is happening faster and is more pervasive than ever before. And, as we approach the era of 5G, our abilities are only going to increase manifold and our systems will be advanced enough to allow us to delegate complex work to machines.
So, what do we marketers need to do to harness this? The critical idea here is to be aware and experiment. With the plethora of technologies at our disposal and numerous boutique companies offering niche services, CMOs need to analyze what is best suited to their needs. Which technology or combination of technologies are most likely to deliver on their long-term strategic outlook? Marketers should be agile and be ready to discard an unsuccessful trial. They need to be cognizant of the changes and trends in the market and react to it positively. Some of the top trends I’ve been reading about these days are:
- In recent years, the advances made in the fields of natural language processing, conversation interfaces, automation and machine learning processes have enabled virtual assistants (VA) to become increasingly intelligent and useful. Across the digital world, as voice searches increase, we need to tailor our content and SEO to be absolute top-of-search, and enable VAs to deliver faster results.
- With over 24% annual growth rate, chatbots are thriving and here to stay, helping digital brands improve customer service and lower budgets. AI-powered chatbots are quicker in giving any data-related answers and taking requests, and often have humor and personalities, offering personalized service to any customer in need, any time.
- Similarly, machine learning and artificial intelligence deliver efficient, smart data analysis, making it easier for marketers to deliver hyper-customization to their customers, including content niche, programmatic buying and unique journeys. It is now helping them set-up predictive lead scoring, deploy complex trigger-based campaigns, and invest in dynamic content to serve their customers at every phase of the user journey.
- Video is king and this trend seems not to abate. However, the trick here is not quantity but quality and a knack to recognize when a content is past its shelf life. This includes using advanced analytics to study and learn from video metrics and personalizing content in multiple phases such that it speaks directly to the customer.
- Finally, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of personalization. From Netflix to Coca Cola, brands are increasingly trying to have a conversation with their customers and we can see that it is working. Marketers need to have two-way communication, one that involves listening as much as speaking.
For the Next-Gen Marketer!
So, what does the next-gen marketer do? To go back to the basics, there needs to be a vision and a deep understanding of the strategies needed to take the business there. As technology and marketing gets more advanced and machines do the more laborious and tedious tasks, marketers need to reinvent themselves and tell stories to the next generation of businesses. For me, this means a greater focus on simpler and traditional marketing sensibilities. Ensuring that content is simple, authentic, consumable and relevant. Paying attention, not to lose the ability to speak to the excitements of the audience and catering to their emotional needs. And, this leads to the creation of an authentic and lasting engagement, with trust and transparency at the core.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
Andrew Davis, Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author