With 2016 behind us, I can say with full confidence that it was a year of change. For me, it meant a career shift, as I assumed the role of Marketo’s chief marketing officer. But the marketing industry — perhaps more so than many others –- is one that profoundly shifts year-to-year, season-to-season, and even minute-to-minute. There is no doubt in my mind that 2017 will present a new raft of challenges and equally impressive innovations that will make the lives of marketers easier.
At least, that is the hope.
Based on the institutional knowledge I’ve gathered over the past year, from my own practice of marketing and my experience speaking with our myriad customers, partners and other leaders in the marketing space, I have developed five predictions for the year ahead that I’ll share here.
1. The martech-ad tech marriage will become popular for B2B marketers
Traditionally, B2B and B2C companies had separate, prescriptive approaches to marketing, with little overlap. However, the convergence of martech and ad tech means that B2B marketers are behaving more and more like B2C marketers when it comes to bridging their owned and paid channels. How do you explain major companies such as Microsoft, Panasonic and GE spending major dollars on platforms such as Facebook?
It’s because all marketers are focused on how to drive the most personalization and maximize engagement, measurement and revenue. Using deep customer insights from owned channels to drive better results in paid channels can help achieve these objectives. With large, enterprise-scale B2B companies leading the way, we predict that this shift among B2B marketers will accelerate throughout 2017.
2. Customer retention and growth will be top-of-mind in spend and structure
In the past, customer behavior has been relatively predictable, warranting less of a focus on retention and keeping new customer acquisition at the forefront of marketing efforts.
A December 2016 CMO Council and Deloitte study of CMOs and marketing VPs found that only 13 percent of marketing leaders are working to retain and grow customer relationships through improved customer experiences.
In 2017, marketing teams will place a greater focus and devote more resources toward building human connections and relationships through personal engagements throughout each life cycle stage in an effort to build brand loyalty and advocacy. We also expect that companies will build teams dedicated to driving adoption, cross-selling and developing brand champions.
3. Sales and marketing will be working more closely together than ever before
Salespeople and marketers will find themselves planning, strategizing and executing in tandem, more than ever before. Strategies such as account-based selling on the sales side have been around for years, and the technologies to power and execute account-based marketing are taking hold in marketing.
Not only do these strengthen the collaboration between the two teams and align them to shared goals, but they also allow them to more effectively reach the accounts that matter, ultimately impacting the bottom line by winning new business, retaining and up-servicing existing customers and delivering on revenue goals. Sales and marketing will leverage new platforms to work closely more than ever before — maybe we should call it Account-Based SMarketing!
4. Predictive analytics will shift to adaptive analytics
Predictive analytics technology is nothing new, but it is growing in adoption and understanding in new industries. But anticipating what customers and potential customers want before they express it (or even know themselves) isn’t enough.
The prediction and automation engines must fuel retention, cross-sell, upsell, advocacy and beyond. Marketers must not only be able to predict customer behavior, but they must adapt their responses in real time by using technology to listen to behavior, learn from it and speak to customers and prospects in a meaningful, relevant way at every step of the journey.
5. Full-brain marketers join the talent pool
Specialization is no longer the ticket to success. As engineering organizations are building teams of full-stack developers, marketers will build teams of “full-brain marketers” — individuals who are well-versed in all aspects of the trade.
Specialists will still have their place, performing discrete functions like programmatic buying or SEO, but the trend will shift toward leaders who are multi-talented generalists who can easily handle countless challenges, from creative and brand design to product marketing and demand generation and beyond. In other words, the future will favor those well-versed in both art AND science.
But this trend’s impact is not limited to practitioners. A recent Forrester study focused on the need for CMOs to get digitally savvy, even going so far as to predict that as many as 30 percent of CEOs might fire their CMO in the coming year for “not mustering the blended skill set they need personally to pull off digital business transformation.”
Yikes. It’s clear that my fellow CMOs must also focus on well-rounded development to ensure that they still have a job come this time next year.
Until next year
Some of these predictions may be daunting, but I see enormous potential in our field. I look forward to the year ahead and seeing what comes to pass for myself, our company and all of our fellow marketers. See you in 2017!
This post originally appeared on MarTech Today on December 30, 2016.