Marketing departments are collecting and working with more data than ever before and new technologies are making that data ever more accessible and useful for insight and decision making. This means more opportunities to reach and connect with your customers than ever before. But how, and which will be the right fit for your brand?

After reviewing some of the latest industry research, we’ve noticed some clear themes emerge when it comes to working with and leveraging data in marketing. In this post, we will talk about data driven marketing and we’ll be sharing our pick of the trends that should be at the top of the marketing agenda in 2019.


The fastest growing MarTech: AI

While artificial intelligence (AI) is not yet a mainstream technology, it is increasingly transforming how many industries do business. This is especially true for marketing, where the wealth of customer data streams can be integrated and leveraged in order to improve how businesses understand, engage with, and serve customers.

Pwc estimates that AI will be a game changer for the global economy, where it could add more than $15 trillion by 2030, $9 trillion of which is expected as a result of the impact that AI will have on consumers, especially as a result of personalized products and services. Business Insider identified AI as the fastest growing marketing technology, which showed 53% year over year growth, and ahead of technologies such as IoT, marketing automation, social listening tools, and customer IAM tools.  

Here are just some areas where marketing departments could be using AI:

  • Marketing Intelligence: Companies can use AI to make the most of their data. With AI and machine learning capabilities, companies can analyze data to reveal patterns, draw conclusions, learn about customers based on their behaviors and search patterns, understand how customers find them by analyzing data from the website, social media, and other platforms.
  • Chatbots: AI-enabled chatbots can benefit multiple levels of the marketing funnel, from driving conversations that support the purchase process by responding to questions or directing customers to resources, to facilitating customer service to ensure an accurate and immediate response.
  • Personalization: According to IBM, AI will make ‘hyper-personalization’ a reality. Data-intensive, often compartmentalized nature of marketing data is a perfect challenge for AI, which can help marketers deliver personalized content at scale with analysis and intelligence in real time. In its 2019 State of Marketing report, Salesforce found that 29% of marketers are using AI for enabling personalized email offers based on web browsing behavior.  


Welcome to the CX era

While customer service is important, a business’s relationship with customers is more than just providing assistance when they need it. For today’s customer, it’s all about their ‘experience’ of a company and its products and services.

A survey of CMO spending in the UK and US by Gartner found that customer experience is a key focal point for CMOs and one that will be essential for their 2019 marketing strategies. It will also account for 18% of the overall marketing budget.

Customer experience (CX) incorporates not only customer service but all of the touch points and interactions that users encounter on the way to becoming a customer. This includes all of the ways that you communicate with customers (emails, customer service, billing), all of the places where customers can interact with you (social media, the website, in-store), where they buy from you (online, in-app, in-store), and the messages and impressions that can be gained through those interactions.

Here are four trends that will impact CX this year:

  • Customer experience will be more important for consumers—for baby boomers but especially millennials—over product and price. Businesses will want to ensure that the value they offer customers isn’t just about the product. (CXM)
  • Predictive analytics and technology such as AI can be used to ensure that your CX delivers the value customers expect. (Inc.)
  • Customer experience is increasingly where companies will compete, and a key feature of customer experience is personalization. (More on personalization below.)
  • Remember, CX doesn’t end after the sale but is ongoing. Emails and other communications that take place post-transaction are continued opportunities to reinforce the relationship with customers and build loyalty over time.


Customers choose personalization

According to Gartner, “personalization has emerged as a strategically important marketing capability,” and it accounts for 14% of the average CMO budget.

Given the amount of data available, it’s no wonder that customers increasingly expect to be treated based on what companies know about them through the data they collect. Today’s marketing departments have a wealth of data about customers—demographics, habits, purchase history, and preferences to name a few sources—that they can use to make the customer experience more intuitive, faster, and easier, providing the personalized engagement that users expect.

There is ample evidence that customers value personalization:

  • “79% of customers are willing to share data in exchange for contextualized engagement, and 88% will do so for personalized offers.” (Salesforce)
  • “Marketers report that personalization improves lead generation, customer acquisition, and upselling — and they’re also seeing improvements across the rest of the customer journey…” (Salesforce)
  • “91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.” (2018 Personalization Pulse Check from Accenture)
  • 67% of buyers want content that is 100% customized to their specific situation. (Coschedule)
  • Major platforms like Hubspot are adding features for personalized video for email, and major utilities are using personalized email to transform the customer billing process.

Platforms like Amazon and Netflix have long been using customer data to provide personal recommendations based on purchase history, search history, and user preferences. Retailers, airlines, grocery stores, publishers are using it to send special offers and target ads.

Through personalization, marketers can intelligently segment their audience into more specific, targeted groups or even at the individual level to target them with special content, targeted offers, discounts, personalized customer journeys, and much more.

A solid plan for data protection should go hand in hand with any personalization strategy.


Make customer data protection a priority

At the same time that personalization through data is valued by customers, how data is collected and used, and who has access to it, is coming under greater scrutiny by consumers and regulators across the globe.

Recently, high profile events—data breaches, the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal—have made consumers aware of just how their data is occasionally being used (and mis-used).

It’s a conundrum for consumers who want to be protected but who also want to enjoy the benefits of sharing data as long as it offers value. Accenture reported that 41% of consumers in the US have cut ties with brands due to poor personalization and a lack of trust, equating to $2.5 trillion in lost retail and brand sales globally ($756 billion in the U.S. alone).

Gartner found that, when it comes to the willingness to share information, consumers in the UK and US are nearly split down the middle, with 47% open to recommendations based on their personal data or history and 50% are less willing. Still, the majority of consumers want to know how their data is being used. Signal cites that 96% of consumers want transparency.  

Across the world, countries are strengthening existing regulations and enacting new laws to protect personal data. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May of 2018, and new data privacy regulations are expected in Australia and Canada. In the US, while there is no national legislation as of yet, individual states such as California and Colorado are writing their own rules to protect consumers.

Regardless of where you do business or wherever you are located, it’s worthwhile to make sure your data collection and storage practices are ahead of the curve and compliant with all of the latest regulations.


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