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What we learned at Technology for Marketing

Ben Dickens, September 29, 2016

This weeks post covers our adventures at Technology for Marketing.

We spent the day at the Technology for Marketing show, an event which brings together all sorts of different marketing technology “martech” offerings around various, mainly digital, channels. We’re a lean full service digital agency so we were there for two reasons; to discover new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our projects and to pick up insights into client uptake and understanding. It was a great show, we played retro Star Wars games, had a balloon fascinator made for us and got to speak to some really enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. So a big well done to the Technology for Marketing organisers.

We’ll get into the detail below, highlighting some great technology we came across that you should definitely look at.

Firstly though, I think it’s worth talking about the bigger picture. Whilst we’re big advocates of digital, technology and a digitally-led approach there are one or two things that are quite alarming and as a marketing manager must be confusing.

I don’t think we have to argue anymore that a consistent multi-channel approach is something all brands should be aiming for, breaking down siloes to deliver communications holistically. This thinking was strangely absent, maybe because the solutions on offer were very channel specific and geared towards optimising better results in any given channel? But come on, I find it hard to believe that nobody is considering the customer in all of this and how their respective technology dovetails with other channels, especially other digital channels.

There still seems to be a notion that teams grappling with lots of channels have a need to add more and more software solutions, that don’t talk to each other, into their workflow as if this is something that is going to make things easier for them. It may help the results but it may also make the whole thing unmanageable. I think the infographic below illustrates this, it’s a bit chaotic? (Produced by Scott Brinker, download available here)

martech-landscape-2105-800x552

I think the wider issue at play is that many companies in the martech space are inadvertently perpetuating the siloed mentality we are all striving to move away from. A Forbes study from 2014 highlighted the negative impact of siloes both internally and externally. Siloes cause cracks in the customer experience because messaging and tactics are inconsistent across different channels.

So why are so many companies selling tech that perpetuates this? I guess business wise it’s always a good idea to have a niche, but how then does a company choose which piece of software to use? Another thing to add to the marketing teams to do list.

The other thing we noticed at Technology for Marketing was some talk about emotional engagement. We dug deeper and were surprised to find it’s only skin deep. Content marketers have been discussing how to drive more emotional engagement for a while, how to get beyond the logical needs and use the content experience to drive the emotional engagement you would normally associate with brand activity. Suffice to say it’s not been cracked. Our perspective is that there is not the research rigour outside of simple data analysis to really get to the bottom of the emotional triggers that will resonate with any given audience. Sales plug! That’s where businesses like ours come in because we have the planning skills to do just that – delivering a message through traditional methods or a digital experience that will trigger an emotion because our research goes beyond the data. We study the bigger picture.

So that’s the rant bit done. Here’s some of the things we thought were cool at Technology for Marketing, take a look at them, they might help.

Phrasee is an AI solution for use in email subject lines. The example we saw was for an Xfactor campaign. It showed how the ai made subtle changes to the subject line of an email campaign over it’s broadcast lifespan to improve engagements. Firstly, cool. Secondly we can’t wait to test this and want to explore how this could be used for social media, maybe to improve engagement of scheduled posts, looking to drive people into deeper content.

R3engage had a cool piece of software that works on site exit points, allowing you to show the user a screen on exit that can have any content you can think of in it. They explained that it’s a bit like asking someone ‘can I help you’ when they walk into a retail space and doing that before they leave. Current applications have included surveys and buying suggestions. We wondered about it’s use in research as a survey point to better understand why someone didn’t buy. I can also see applications for publishers looking to generate revenue in this way for third parties.

Barclaycard, no need for a link! We were very impressed by the ladies on their stand in the payments section, they were very well informed. We didn’t know much about their online payment gateway but it’s pretty impressive and for those who bank with Barclays, very seamless. I think there’s a lot of credibility in the Barclays brand especially in tech as they clearly lead the way amongst the high-street in this area. Not ground breaking tech but a good service and that really is more important.

So there were good and bad bits, some clever tech and balloon parrot hats. All in all a positive experience, just wish someone would bang the drum a bit louder for cross-channel integration. We built a tunnel under the sea to do this, surely we can do it in marketing? If we don’t see you sooner you can catch us there next year, we’ll be doing the Technology for Marketing rounds looking for the new and innovative solutions that will make our work better.

As ever if you want to know more, want advice on what next seasons balloon hat fashion will be or want to chew the fat, contact us. Or sign–up for our newsletter, the box is just to the right at the top of this post.

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