The other day I came across the following question on Quora: what is the role of technology in modern marketing? As I pondered my response over the next couple of days, I thought more about how technology has changed marketing and decided it needed more than a Quora quip. Here’s an expanded answer to the role of technology in modern marketing. I consider the question from two points of view: the consumer and that of the marketer.
How technology has changed marketing for consumers
The impact of technology on consumers has turned business upside down. Technology has democratized the way brands, and consumers engage. Most of us have a computer in our pocket. Thanks to smartphones and social network, consumers hold far more power in the brand/consumer conversation equation today than they did 15, 10, even five years ago. Technology has connected consumers, changed expectations, and increased relevance.
The connected consumer
Because the majority of us have a smartphone in our pocket, we can snap, tweet, or poke anyone, anywhere anytime. Our experiences get streamed with the world. We discover something new and exciting our friends, and their friends can all experience it with us. If we have a bad brand experience, that also resonates across our digital networks.
Changing consumer expectations
As technology changes, consumers adopt new sets of standards for what is expected and what’s considered a bonus. In 2013 for example, Target followed in Amazon’s footsteps when subscription delivery of commonly ordered items moved from a differentiating feature for Amazon to something consumers expected from major e-commerce players like Target. Consumers pick trends and set them as standard not by vote, but with their loyalty and transaction history.
In 2010, Google made available a new snippet of code to advertisers. This snippet unlocked the power of remarketing. Suddenly, instead of being served digital ads for random things, hoping to entice a click, advertisers could now easily serve ads based on past browsing patterns. Ads were becoming more relevant and performance was increasing. As consumers interact with their screens and networks, they make choices. Choices that help refine the information they see. Everything from the news to the ads. As technology evolves, relevance continues to be the name of the game as it relates to consumers.
How technology has changed marketing for business
As technology evolved for consumers, so too has technology evolved for marketers and businesses. While the increase in devices has complicated marketing in some ways, technology has also caught up on the business side to lend a helping hand.
Today, (2016) there are about 4,000 pieces of marketing technology. A marketing technology stack helps sales and marketing mine data, drive relevancy and create opportunity. What are some of the ways technology has changed marketing? Technology has helped marketing make sense of data, drive scalability, seek out efficiency and deliver on consumer demands for relevancy to name a few.
How technology helps marketing make sense of data
Before the onslaught of marketing analytics tools, marketers were left to those who knew SQL or other database languages to write a query and extract the insights they needed to make decisions about their businesses. While database languages are still relevant, analytics tools from site and app analytics to behavior and interaction drive deeper insights in near real time allowing individuals throughout the business access to the data they need to make the decisions that matter.
How technology drives scale
It wasn’t all that long ago that marketers just had a collection of tools and applications. If you wanted one tool to talk to another, you had to write a custom integration. Now, so many of the sales and marketing technologies that exist plug into automation tools like Zapier and IFTT. This enables a whole level of scale that never existed before. When something happens in one part of your sales or marketing funnel and in one application, it can kick off a chain reaction in another application saving real man hours.
From scaling communications to driving data consistency, technology continues to refine the scalability of marketing.
How technology seeks efficiency
Once upon a time marketing could knock it out of the park and drive a bunch of interest in a campaign. Clicks, calls, all sorts of engagement. But nothing happened. That would be the sad end of the story. More good money thrown at bad results. Thanks to technology we can gain efficiency by looking for holes in our funnel and find out why people aren’t converting. We can drive tests and find answers with statistical certainty. We look at insights and data and know that people drop out of a form on the 6th field, or we can see that people are clicking and getting distracted by the wrong CTA. Armed with data, we can make changes and see real results.
How technology delivers on consumer demands
As data about our customers come into our marketing stack, we can continue to refine and personalize our content. The more relevant our messages, the happier our prospects, and customers will be. The net effect of this also happens to be a higher likelihood of conversion.
How has technology changed marketing for you?
There are a lot of ways technology has left its fingerprint on marketing. Whether you sit on the consumer side, or put on your marketing hat, we continue to be affected by the changes to the hardware and software in our life. How has technology affected your business?