Two trends marketers need to watch out for in 2017

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The era where brands connect with consumers through direct selling and mass-market advertising is long gone. These days, no marketing strategy can adequately address the customer journey without addressing aspects such as social, mobility and multi-screen use.

As we start this brand-new year, we look at two upcoming trends that savvy marketers need to watch out for.

Emergence of data converging platforms

The role of data has been rising over the last few years, and no CMOs will oppose or question its relevance when it comes to marketing today. For one, wearables are set to become ubiquitous this year, if they are not already so. Elsewhere, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is also expected to surge with an influx of new connected cameras, sensors and other networked devices.

The data generated by these devices will be “incredibly voluminous”, says Anil Mathews, the founder and CEO of location intelligence platform Near. Harnessed correctly, this can give businesses deep real-time analytical insights that can help brands understand their consumers far better, as well as to make data-driven decisions, he said.

Matthews predicts the rise of data-converging platform to handle this massive surge of data from connected devices. And this is a good thing, since having a consistent and unified framework for development will bring down DevOps costs and provide a unified framework to better monitor and analyze this data.

“A converged platform has a lot to offer - from richer analytical insights, leading to focused product development, in turn leading to higher Return on Investments (ROI),” he said.

How can this help marketers though? For one, data signals can be leveraged to identify and engage the right users, allowing brands to make meaningful connections with the right users at the right time, across ad formats and devices.

Moreover, such a platform can also help companies cross reference customer feedback with demographics and other ancillary data points to better understand customers’ tastes and trends to improve and maintain a loyal customer base.

Increased adoption of artificial intelligence

The other trend would undoubtedly be Artificial intelligence (AI), which is best described as a marrying of machine learning models with efficient analytical algorithms. The result is the ability to draw deeper, more meaningful, and relevant conclusions to help marketers build insights and make connections that may have proved elusive in the past.

In a nutshell, AI will help marketers and business leaders solve problems quicker and more efficiently. Already, an increasing number of martech firms are already using AI to add a layer of intelligence on their marketing platforms. It is not inconceivable for CMOs to invest in AI programs to optimize their campaigns and identify emerging trends before their competitors.

The other aspect of AI that looks set to make a huge impact would be in customer service to enhance the overall customer experience. For instance, Singapore’s POSB Bank in January launched its AI-driven chatbot on Facebook Messenger, which was designed to assist customers without them having to call in or wait in line at a bank branch.

Indeed, the use of chatbots is slowly but steadily gaining traction. While a recent study by analyst firm Forrester Research noted that most chatbots don’t meet customer expectations yet, there is no question that organizations can leverage the technology to position themselves at the forefront of customer experience.