Technology continues to be a driving force delivering change across the boardroom. For marketing leaders, we have seen vast quantities of data available to analyze and improve success rates and speed up processes through automation. And, as customers increasingly turn to the internet for a source of information, guidance, and independent reviews, what impact is this having on marketers?

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What’s really important is that technology continues to free up people’s time to focus on the things that matter and where they can add the most value. I believe technology has the opportunity to be a positive force and increase the value that marketing professionals can deliver to the top table, where the best marketers should also be sitting. Here are my top trends in marketing for 2020:

The customer experience will be owned by marketing

Gartner’s recent revelation that 85 percent of customers are happy to go through the sales pipeline without any human contact indicated the transformation that marketing needs to embrace in order to remain relevant. In today’s digital era, the marketing process is traveling much further through the sales cycle. People who now want to self-serve online through their decision-making process – and customers who no longer need to be face-to-face with the seller – are revolutionizing the sales process. Great marketers will own the onboarding of the customer experience right through to retention, working hand in hand with sales. But for responsible marketing, the journey continues until they are sure that every customer is an advocate.

Data analytics will increasingly dominate the marketing mix

Marketing’s extended area of influence will become possible when underpinned by data-driven insight. We will see more and more of the marketing team made up of data analysts, threatening the position of creativity as the ‘king.’ I predict getting the right tools in place to truly understand the customer will be invaluable in knowing what story will best resonate. And at the same time, data analytic tools will drive the automation of the mundane tasks in marketing and hence lead to an increase in productivity – freeing up time for marketers to create a personalized approach. The marketing team will deliver customer advocacy that essentially becomes an organization’s sales force, allowing them to be more meaningful in any outreach.

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It’s no longer about the biggest and the best brand

Buyers are becoming more discerning and have a broader range of influences, such as the considerations of the ethical buyer. Brands have a responsibility to ensure they are meaningful – which for us comes back to our value of ‘making a difference’ – the difference our customers make to their customers – be they students, patients, sports fans, or fundraisers.

Forget fads

Despite the importance of marketers investing in the right technology stack, you cannot have missed the abundance of available technology increasing.  It would be easy to spend every day looking at new tech, which may or may not mean you can do things better.  Smart marketing leaders will be selective and be really clear about where their focus is and which tech actually plays to that – and when they do invest, be really clear at the outset how success and the return on investment will be measured, holding suppliers to work with them to success.

Marketing as a revenue contributor

Frankly, if marketing leaders want to have a seat at the top table, they will need to take responsibility for being a revenue contributor. Gone are the days when the marketing department was considered ‘fluffy,’ holding no relationship to the company’s financial performance. Instead, marketing needs to be focussed on their revenue contribution target and ensure they take an analytical approach to their engagement strategy – at both a customer and prospect level. As well as the acquisition of new customers, marketing teams will drive that revenue along the entire customer lifecycle – from prospecting through to retention – in order to maximize the lifetime value of every customer. So make sure you ask yourself – is sales and marketing 100 percent aligned in your organization? And if not, what could you do to harmonize these teams for greater success next year?

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