Yet, with all that progress, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the profound impact technology will have on the future of marketing. Even though technology is becoming only more advanced and disruptive, marketers of technology products must realize that technology is only the first step. To fully realize the potential of technology, it takes transformation across people, processes, and technology.
Only by recognizing all three forces will modern marketers reap the full benefits that technology can have on marketing transformation. Get semi-monthly updates on how global companies are managing in a changing world.
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There is no question that technology is critical to business success for virtually all organizations today, especially for those in the business of marketing technology itself. To thrive in this new era, it is imperative that marketers embrace developments in technology and test and adopt new advancements that fit their business — whether AI, or voice, or augmented reality — before they lose a competitive edge.
At the same time, mastering technology is not the only criterion for success in the modern marketing era — the right people and processes must also be put in place to properly develop, manage, and nurture the benefits of that technology. They must be curious, flexible, agile, and nimble.
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They must be willing to be change agents, always looking around the corner and helping to scale transformation as champions for change. The status quo for any marketing job is no longer enough — continuous development of new skills for all marketers is critical. Adobe, for example, encourages skill development in a wide variety of ways, including job rotations with new roles every few years, internal training and learning programs, in-house Q and A sessions with external customers for outside-in perspectives, and a quarterly learning and development newsletter.
The marketing organization as a whole, however, also needs people with diverse skill sets and expertise in key areas. Further, while these new, specialized jobs have emerged, marketers must also be able to take a broad view of marketing strategy. The dynamic cross-channel nature of marketing today requires that campaigns be integrated and connected across every channel.
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Processes must also change for technology organizations. Today, the customer-decision process is becoming more complex and varied. As the customer journey becomes increasingly nonlinear, the organization must change to reflect that. In a more complex marketplace, internal organizational lines need to be redrawn. Silos must be broken down and cross-functional relationships established so that marketing works seamlessly across other groups in the organization such as IT, finance, sales, and product management.
For example, to improve the reliability of financial forecasting, marketing can share early-warning lead indicators that have been shown to affect bottom-of-the-funnel behaviors and ultimately revenue for example, the number of customer visits to company-controlled websites. And unlike ever before, marketing can now demonstrate its impact on the business, validating the ROI of every dollar to peer groups in the organization and becoming a strategic driver of the business.
All these changes, however, require that technology organizations operate differently. As will be developed in greater detail below, they must learn to be agile, take risks, fail fast, and apply lessons. They must also learn how to get the most out of a data-rich world by testing, optimizing, and activating. Marketers operate at the intersection of many of these customer experiences and are uniquely positioned to help steer the future directions for brands. In doing so, marketers of technology products cannot just worship the product alone and be transactional in their customer interactions.
They must create full-on, immersive experiences for customers that build strong ties to the company and the brand as a whole. Experiences are the new competitive battlefield and a means to create powerful differentiation from competitors. With technology products, seamless product installation and operation, in particular, is absolutely critical. Beyond designing products that are as easy to use as possible, technology companies must have a wide range of support and services for customers to help them with product installation and use, employing ample training resources as well as informative forums, social channels, and websites.
Adobe, for example, takes enormous efforts to educate its customers so that customers know how they should use a product, fix any problem that arises, and deal with any special situations that occur, all as quickly and easily as possible. The company does as much of this as it can through digital, using lots of video across YouTube, Adobe. Other companies such as Buffer, Wistia, and Mailchimp similarly put tremendous emphasis on customer education and ensuring customers have the best product experience possible.
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For example, Fitbit has combined sensors, wireless technology, software, and services to pioneer the connected health and fitness market. To help customers take full advantage of Fitbit and lead healthier, more active lives, the company uses social media and the support of a strong community, in addition to telephone, email, and chat customer support, to both impart and collect information about product usage.
The reality of customer-brand relationships today is that they have evolved from single, interspersed interactions to always-on, symbiotic, and immersive relationships. What exactly do customers want from a brand? What do they not want? Consider this Adobe example for managing customer expectations. When the company moved from Creative Suite software to the Creative Cloud subscription service, some customers were not happy with the switch. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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