Marketers Can't Just Rely on What Marketing Tech 'Hopes' to Deliver
Marketers have grown understandably weary of the tech buzzwords that often over-promise and under-deliver. Yet, the very same marketers often have an Achilles heel when it comes to new technology and can’t help but say “yes” to adding it to their marketing tech stacks. While it’s even more important to have a well-built marketing team in place than it is to have the latest shiny new tech solution, having the right marketing tech in place is crucial.
Taking a step back from the often over-hyped landscape, it’s important to look beyond the sales pitches, especially those that begin with “AI is the future” (while failing to completely deliver upon that). Let’s explore and learn from some real-world examples of how brands are leveraging emerging technologies and securing tangible results here in 2019, rather than adopting solutions built on future promises. But before going into solution mode, first let’s consider the motivations of the modern consumer.
The Digitally Conscious Customer
It’s been five years since IBM’s Bridget van Kralingen told audiences, “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere.”
Here in 2019, businesses are only just coming to grips with the fact that their products or services will not be compared just with their competitors, but also with consumers’ previous experiences with companies, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Airbnb.
The problems began when tech giants started to leverage emerging technologies, such as AI, across mobile, web, and social platforms. Marketing tech enables these companies to deliver personalized and immediate experiences that feed our insatiable desire for
When digitally conscious customers fail to receive that experience, they will have no problem switching from brand to brand to find an experience that matches their continuously evolving level of expectations. There is no denying that it’s technology driving the experience economy, but how can technology enable marketers to step up and also deliver the “wow” factor?
Delivering Personalized Customer Experiences
There are many traditional brands that you wouldn’t associate with technology that are embracing tech to offer personalized experiences. For example, if you think of Levi’s jeans, you probably think of their 166-year-old history and iconic image. But the company recently opened a customization and tailor shop in New York where customers can create a unique look.
Visitors to the store can design a unique pair of jeans, using the in-store iPads, or work with specialists who will help you put your own fun twist on a pair of traditional denim jeans.
Fender Musical Instrument Corp. is another iconic brand that is steeped in tradition, but decided to embrace the digital transformation rather than resist its shiny allure. Fender Digital was launched in 2015 to pave the way for a new digital ecosystem of products and interactive experiences designed to accompany players at every stage of their musical journeys. The company quickly learned how the way we learn was changing and provided a platform that enabled the guitar players of the future to better learn their craft.
Fender Play provided a Netflix-style model for the YouTube generation by offering students access to videos containing step-by-step lessons. The personalized approach also enabled users to track their progress, learn at their own pace, and access a community for support.
These two examples highlight how its customers are the real stars of the show and not the technology.
The Rise of Conversational Voice Search
It wasn’t too long ago that speaking into your smartphone to ask a question felt incredibly uncomfortable. However, our homes are now filled with digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, and Windows Cortana. Managing your home lighting and heating using your voice is becoming the new standard. What happens when we take these expectations outside of the home?
Voice search is one of the most hyped — yet possibly one of the least understood — topics facing marketers today. What if your customers stopped typing searches into Google and began searching with their voice? Would your business appear? If your answer is “No,” you’re not alone ... but that also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned.
When 75,000 companies in the U.S. were asked if they were voice search-ready, only 4% said they were prepared for the inevitable shift to voice.
Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality last year, designed for the needs of hotels and their guests. Marriott hotels tested the features and the Wynn hotel in Vegas also installed an Echo device in over 5,000 rooms. Some visitors found the technology to be exciting and innovative, while others felt it was intrusive.
Currently, there are too many trust issues around having a microphone in your hotel room that is always listening. Are the recordings of Alexa queries cleared when a guest checks out? Should you mute or unplug the device? These are just a few consumer questions that introduce more problems than solutions with the selection and implementation of this new tech.
There is a lot of hype around the future of voice search. But right now, there is also a great deal of uncertainty over how businesses can leverage the technology without appearing creepy. This will evolve over the next few years, but there don’t seem to be too many real-world examples of businesses enjoying great success by implementing voice search.
Additional Emerging Marketing Tech
There are numerous marketing tech articles out there informing readers that blockchain has the potential to transform the customer experience. Equally, 5G is promising not just to deliver a faster world, but an entirely new world that will eventually deliver self-driving cars and smart cities.
Whether this excites or horrifies you will depend entirely on your viewpoint. But the most important thing to remember is that like many of the stories that dominate our newsfeeds; they are built on future promises. Instead of accepting what “could be” as fact, maybe we should be paying more attention to brands that are delivering tangible results by leveraging emerging technologies.
Nine years have passed since offices were frantically ordering iPads, much to the chagrin of IT departments across the world. Nobody stopped to think about what problems they were solving or what value they were delivering as a result of their expensive purchase. While those tablets have become outdated several times over (and may be gathering dust in some IT closet), many marketers are making the same mistake chasing after the latest must-have tech.
The road ahead is incredibly exciting. The convergence of AI, 5G, blockchain, and edge computing with IoT will be mouthwatering for many businesses. But don’t be blinded by future promises and sail carefully in these uncharted digital waters. And remember, it’s about the customer, rather than you or your technology.