Marketing technology is a huge niche. In fact, huge is an understatement. The number of software and applications targeted and utilized in marketing, from social media and event planning to analytics and marketing platforms, numbers in the several hundred. As options continue to expand, develop and grow, several categories of marketing technologies have emerged. Some, like infrastructure programs, have been around for years, but others, like marketing middleware, have just come to the fore.
The number of choices might seem paralyzing, but the truth is that these technologies are building towards each other instead of in opposite directions. Foundational services include Internet marketing via Facebook, Google, Twitter or similar apps, while infrastructure programs like databases and cloud computing form the necessary data “brain” of many marketing efforts. Marketing backbone platforms like CRM, marketing automation and e-commerce are vital structures in marketing efforts. Middleware, like cloud connectors, API services and DMPs, help bridge the gap between foundational technologies and marketing experiences and operations. Marketing experiences include specialized technologies affecting customers, in a manner of “front office” marketing. Marketing operations, on the other hand, manage the “back office” in marketing, including analytics and agile marketing. The takeaways from these new developments with regard to the marketing landscape in 2015 include:
- Backbone platforms and middleware brings everything together. Like their name implies, backbone platforms provide a solid structure to marketing technology by providing the software a marketer must have. They serve as platforms thanks to open design that provides compatibility with other marketing programs. Middleware continues the trend of helping different products work together by providing a common pathway for data to travel from program to program.
- Marketing automation is a technology to watch. Marketing automation and integrated marketing platforms have undergone some consolidation, but the space is also diversifying just as rapidly. The fact that new vendors continue rising in this niche despite big-name contenders means the opportunity for growth is still wide open. The availability and affordability of different tools makes this an arena for innovative start-ups to shine.
- Advertising is on the way out. Most marketing innovation going forward is going to be reliant upon non-advertising contexts. Experience-driven marketing is the method of choice going forward. Instead of advertising to customers, companies must be willing to engage through interaction, social media and content marketing. Apps with the capability to gather, analyze and leverage the data gathered in these practices will only grow in prevalence.
- Management will need to adapt to take full advantage of the many agile tools available. Despite the original purpose of most of these tools having been to facilitate agile management, many of them can be excellent tools for agile marketing. Unfortunately, if management insists on “living in the past,” organizations are going to find bottlenecks and stumbling blocks in the marketing paths. Therefore, management will need to commit to embracing all that technology can offer — not just for marketing, but for the entire organization.
Marketing technologies are in a boom with entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovators rising alongside vetted company names. Marketers need a solid technology stack in 2015, from foundation pieces to apps and services that provide virtual office-style functions. The landscape for marketing in general is changing: emphasis lies in automation, efficiency and providing customers with ample interactive experiences.
Savvy marketers should bear these trends in mind and experiment with the rising tide of new applications and software. As technologies continue to integrate with one another, it should become simpler to use one platform to fulfill multiple specialized services.