Big Tiny MarTech Trends 2020; Experts share the tips to beat them.

expert martech trends 2020

Everybody is talking about the Major trends in MarTech, but most marketers would be helped with a more practical approach with some tips to give direction to new trends and developments. That is why we started this year with our first Big Tiny MarTech Trends expert overview.

11 Experts from different fields share their most interesting Tiny but Big MarTech trends and developments.

To get ready for 2020 and beyond, marketers and brands should be asking themselves:

    • What are the trends we see and use today, which will keep developing in the coming years?
    • What are hands-on tips to keep up with these and other MarTech trends?

We asked exactly that to our panel of 11 Experts in the Field.

So what are the 11 Big Tiny Martech trends of 2020? Let’s find out:

Stop seeing automation as the self-driving cars of marketing

David BessisDavid Bessis, Founder & CEO at Tinyclues:Marketers have started seeing the limits of full automation. I’m not saying that automation hasn’t brought big value to customer marketing; but there’s a growing gap between automation, and a focus on business priorities & storytelling – what I like to refer to as ‘real marketing’. Efficiency is great but effectiveness really matters, and automation only captures the low hanging fruit.

The value of these types of automation solutions are reaching a plateau and marketers have started to notice. They will return to investing in the roots of ‘real marketing’ – using their business acumen to promote company priorities, grow customer engagement and drive demand instead of just reacting to recent intent.

automation versus real marketing

For all the dreams of customer-centric odysseys, marketers are paid to help with the business. The not-so-tiny trend is that marketers need technology to augment them, not replace them. Marketers will remain in the center, while technology helps them make the right decisions and address an ever-growing list of complex business priorities.

Hands-on Tip: Start shifting resources back to real marketing.

Stop dreaming about marketing self-driving cars. That won’t happen in the short term. Marketing automation does grow sales by converting existing demand, but it doesn’t solve strategic customer marketing challenges. It’s time to shift resources, investments and attribution back into real marketing. It’s time to focus on your offers, engaging customers, and how to deliver on business priorities for the entire company.

Embrace the age of the Micro Campaigns and Marketer-Designer

Massimo ArrigoniMassimo Arrigoni, CEO at BEE by MailUp Group:We’re in the age of the micro-campaign and of the marketer-designer. Marketing campaigns are created and executed quickly, often by very small growth marketing teams, with lots of variations to try new experiments, using different channels.

This requires a substantial shift in the way assets for marketing campaigns are being created. Marketers are now often, also designers. The fact that Canva is now a $3.2b company is a result of this trend.

The fact that Mailchimp is no longer just an email marketing service, but rather a “content studio” where small businesses build & execute campaigns for web, email, social, physical postcards, etc. is part of the same trend.

mailchimp content studio

The fact that our drag-n-drop email editor (BEE) is now embedded into over 600 applications that do lots of other things beyond email, is part of the same trend. Content – ads, cards, flyers, emails, pages – is created everywhere, quickly, directly by marketers.

Hands-on Tip: Centralize branding across all apps

In this world of micro-campaigns and marketer-designers that work quickly and independently, one of the challenges is ensuring that branding guidelines are still enforced.

marketing apps per company(Source: Blissfully Annual SaaS Trends Report)

Companies are now using dozens, sometimes hundreds of SaaS applications. Content creation is now scattered across many different tools and teams. Brands need to embrace this new world and ensure they still control their brand identity in this new reality.

Ecosystems, Experts and engineers build the second golden age of MarTech

Scott BrinkerScott Brinker,VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot; Editor at chiefmartec.comThere are three trends that are changing the nature of MarTech. They will lay the foundation for the second golden age of MarTech, which will be much larger, but likely look quite different.
exosystems experts engineers martech

Ecosystems — instead of marketing cloud suites vs. best-of-breed point solutions, we will have the best of both: open platforms that serve as stable foundations, augmented by large ecosystems of specialized third-party apps that are more deeply integrated.
Experts — the lines between software vendors and professional services firms will blur: software companies will offer more expert services; services firms will automate and bottle their expertise in code.
(Citizen) Engineers — in a digital world where every company asymptotically becomes a “software business,” organizations will extend commercial platforms with customized customer experience apps and business process logic, many via “citizen developers.”

Hands-on tip: Get ready for blended software and services

There was a recent example of successful marketing services business blending more software into their business model based on their expertise.

blended services and software

I believe services companies can make excellent MarTech product companies, especially when their product is closely supported by their services:

  • They’re inherently focused on outcomes and results for their clients.
  • They live the “ground truth” of what it’s like to deliver those results.
  • They’ve grown their businesses around major platforms and naturally complement them.
  • They have profitability baked in from the start (few services businesses are VC funded).
  • Between their outcome focus and financial discipline, they can be highly competitive in total cost to clients.

Automate your content creation to get personalization at scale

Chris MarriottChris Marriott, President & Founder of Email Connect:Personalization at scale has been a goal of email marketers for a long time. The challenge to make it a reality is not a technical one, but rather an issue of content.

Most enterprise ESPs can deploy personalized email campaigns at scale, but email marketers don’t have the volume of email-ready content to support such campaigns. Like many challenges faced by email marketers, it’s an issue of not enough pilots rather than not enough planes.

The good news is that there are new companies that are working on solving this issue for email marketing. One example is a company called Shotzr, which provides visual content at scale so that email marketers can personalize emails based on any attribute in their databases. So, for example, visuals in an email could be based on demographics, location, or prior purchase behavior.

shotzr image API Shotzr is an example of new tools that offer content at scale to personalize email.

I think over the next couple of years we’ll see more examples of companies coming to market with ways to help email marketers automate the personalization of email campaigns at scale, which will drive better engagement, and further increase the value of email marketing.

Hands-on Tip: Start testing new approaches to automate personalisation

Brands need to be open to testing new approaches automating the personalization of email campaigns. Whether that personalization happens at time of email send, or at time of email open, brands that are willing to work with new 3rd party vendors in the email space will likely gain a competitive advantage.

Enhanced Marketing Automation adds to your pipeline

elias crumElias Crum, Helping CMOs Succeed at Marketing Guys:One of the developments I’ve seen is the enhancement of marketing automation usage, specifically in 2 areas:
1) Measuring revenue to pipeline attribution:
One of the key struggles of marketers is to prove their ROI in the organization. By measuring (real-time) how much their leads add to the pipeline, the impact of marketing to that pipeline becomes crystal clear in a fast way. It also helps to visualize the time that leads are in any of the pipeline stages.

campaign influence pipeline Attribution ModelsCampaign Influence and Pipeline attribution models, Pardot and Act-on

2) Real CRM Integration
Of course, the major automation vendors offer native integration to CRM solutions like MS Dynamics and Salesforce but the majority of companies using automation don’t use this fully; they usually just sync leads between the 2 systems. We now see companies starting to use integrated workflows/tasks, lead scoring and opportunity management. Resulting in true marketing and sales alignment.

Hands-on Tip: Keep up to date (with the right podcasts)

I’m a big podcast fan, as it is an easy way to learn while commuting. There’s a big difference in podcast both in topics and quality. In my opinion the best podcasts offer hands-on examples that can be applied instantly. Some podcast tips: B2B Growth Show, Marketing over Coffee, the Rethink Podcast, Smash the Funnel and of course our own Marketing Technology Podcast.

Create a no-escape way to break through with AI

Jan Hendrik FleuryJan Hendrik Fleury, Commercial Director at Crystalloids:AI will be really breaking through for two main reasons:

1. Data from SAAS and enterprise systems will be centrally stored in a data CDP
Enterprise Data Warehouse store the most valuable data for your company. It is getting easier and cheaper to move data into central and unified storage such as a datawarehouse or data CDP.

There is a variety of tooling to make ETL processes faster and easier. Next to this data prepping is becoming easier with less coding; so visually explore, clean and prepare data.

Now that the data is being brought centrally and unified the foundation for AI is born. So everybody can have access to an affordable data CDP.

2. AI is being democratized
AI will become a commodity service for more use cases. For instance, AI is now accessible by SQL such as with Google Big Query ML. Also, the packaged AI products such as Google’s Recommendations AI are completely out of the box.

Just bring the data to the engine, set your goals, connect to the website and channels such as email you want to push the recommendation too. Only engineering, no data scientist involved.

Hands-on Tip: Adopt SCRUM / Agile to keep up with the data

My successful clients ALL have adopted the SCRUM/Agile principles as a true ‘no escape’ way of organizing all their marketing and IT tasks. Only in this way the continuous integration and continuous development of products such as data, software, analytics can be achieved.

So go all the way since changing the organisation is maybe harder than the technology. Only in this way you can continuously align the demand from the business with the supply of insights and data.

Second tip is to bring the applications to the data and DON’T bring the data to the applications such as ESP’s that are being used. That is the only way a 360 view and unified data can be achieved. Having this truel view on customers and their transactions gives all the insight that is needed to support analytics and AI.

With this you can offer the right message to the right client through the right channel on the right device. Sure, part of the data that in centrally stored (persistent) is (preferably in real-time) in sync with the ESP but there should be no data in the ESP which is not in the central customer view.

Add self learning pieces of the customer and product journey

Bill SchmarzoBill Schmarzo, Chief Innovation Officer, Hitachi Vantara:A significant business opportunity over the next 2 to 3 years will be in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning with IoT sensors to create “autonomous” products or assets that self-monitor, self-diagnose and self-heal without human intervention.

And with AI and Reinforcement Learning, these products or assets will continue to get smarter through usage, resulting in assets that actually appreciate, not depreciate, through usage.

learning AI assets that appreciate

While the autonomous cars are getting all the press, the creation of autonomous cars is a very difficult challenge given the highly unpredictable environment in which cars operate. There are easier places to start one’s autonomous assets or product journey including warehouse and factory robots, and construction and farming equipment.

People can turn over parts of their everyday life to autonomous devices. This very well may be the first challenge for marketing in the new AI world.

How organizations market these new autonomous product capabilities create a significant cultural challenge as organizations seek to convince their customers – through statistics as well as emotional imaginary. Companies (even if not producing AI products themselves) will need to adapt to new channels, touchpoints, and way of life.

Hands-on Tip: Focus on meaningful business problems

My tip is to start small and focus on a meaningful business problem (improving customer retention, improving cross-sell, reducing unplanned operational downtime, reducing inventory costs).

Then to drive collaboration between business stakeholders (who can identify, validate, value and prioritize the organization’s key operational decisions) and the data science team (who can determine what advanced analytic capabilities to apply to that business problem). The opportunity to monetize one’s data – an asset that never wears out, never depletes and can be used across an unlimited number of use cases – is NOT a technology conversation; it’s an economics conversation.

Find smart Helpers to upgrade your Marketing processes.

jordie van RijnJordie van Rijn, Chief MarTech Enthusiast, Email vendor selection:In email marketing, there are going to be many changes. What I am excited about is “smart helpers for marketing”. Smart helpers are the answer to friction in every point of email campaign production.

5 examples of smart helpers in marketing:

  1. Automated tagging of products, for instance in eCommerce. Then using these tags for segmentation, personalisation and on-site search. With added (automatically generated) product descriptions that can put a real boost in production.
  2. Suggesting the right (stock) images and titles to go along with your email articles based on their text in the email or text on the landing page.
  3. Picking popular topics over unpopular ones based on your site and match them with your subscribers. Then automatically rearranging them so the most popular comes out on top.
  4. Suggesting subject lines and subject line improvements
  5. Micro-segmentation and automated segmentation: the tool will select the right (and smaller) audiences to fit with your offer instead of the other way around!

Part of the rise of these smart helpers is due to advances in algorithms and AI. I skipped calling it AI because often it isn’t really AI (which is, we can agree, a useless discussion), but just a practical way of combining learning and features.

micro segmentation flow

Hands-on tip: Look past the jargon to find the golden nuggets of Data

Gartner is predicting we will be talking about AI in marketing and sales well for over 20 years from now. That is a looong time. My tip is to re-frame your both your enthusiasm and AI-blablabla-jargon-jargon-fatigue into something more constructive.

Try and find the core applications and nuggets of insight that discussion brings. We will also have to find a way to benchmark or test different algorithms for effectiveness, as a lot of “deeper” AI is presented as black-box applications.

Interactive email changes sell the click into capture the conversion

April MullenApril Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights at SparkPostAn interesting development happening in email marketing technology is the emergence of AMP for email. A handful of martech vendors have this capability and surely more will as time progresses. I’m excited about AMP. It allows for conversions to happen right within the email. Conversion events such as registering for an event, responding to a survey, or even making a purchase are all possible with AMP.

Yes, the challenges with AMP are a bit steep at the moment. Email developers have to develop a three versions of every email that has AMP capabilities–HTML, text and AMP versions. I don’t know many developers that have extra time on their hands.

Additionally, AMP is only available in a handful of martech vendors making the deployment and tracking of these emails challenging. A limited set of mailbox providers will render AMP, which are Gmail, Verizon (AOL and Yahoo), Outlook and (@mail). Some industry pundits have expressed concern about security as well, given that email is not a secure communications medium.

In time, the opportunities will outweigh the challenges. What most excites me about AMP (and other types of interactive email development capabilities like kinetic) is that it allows for the full user experience to be brought right into the email. This matters because email has typically been a channel that has the ultimate goal of selling the click and letting the website do the work of capturing the conversion.

In the coming years, we’re going to see this change with AMP. This means there will be a reduction in the micro-conversions that need to take place in the email conversion funnel to get people to convert. I liken this change to email having micro-app capabilities. The more utility email has, the more valuable it will become. As a long-time email geek, that’s pretty exciting!

Hands-on tip: Prioritize testing interactivity

My recommendation is that brands prioritize AMP and interactive emails in their testing schedule to see if it’s worthy of adding into a more regular cadence of messages. Before starting a test, find out if your ESP can support tracking to ensure you can accurately determine a winner.

As far as complexity goes, I believe that this capability will get easier over time as it shows a lot of promise for the user experience and will surely elevate the value of email in the process. Email marketers should remain optimistic about the future of AMP and continue to pay attention to new developments on the topic.

BIMI is much sexier than DMARC, DKIM or SPF.

Jeanne JenningsJeanne Jennings, email marketing constultant at Email Optimization shopBrand Indicators for Message Identification, aka BIMI! It’s one of the few new things out there that appeals to both marketers and deliverability people.

BIMI is a new authentication tool, like DMARC, DKIM and SPF, which verifies sender information to let an ISP know that an email is legitimate. It works right alongside those other tools to confirm that an email that appears to be from your brand is actually from your brand. But BIMI is much sexier than DMARC, DKIM or SPF.

You see, BIMI allows marketers to display a logo next to their messages in the inbox. This makes your email messages instantly recognizable to your recipients. BIMI hasn’t been released to the world yet, but it should be soon. Watch for it!

Hands-on tip: Fight the blinders!

It’s so easy to be focused on just getting your own campaigns out. We put blinders on our own eyes, and often what we don’t see are things that could help us improve our campaigns and our careers.

Solution: fight the blinders! Get involved in communities of email marketing professionals, like Only Influencers, and attend conferences focused on what’s new and what’s next, like the events and Summits. These are much easier and more time-efficient than trying to keep up in industry happenings on your own.

Underappreciated marketing automation workflows make a return

Rytis LaurisRytis Lauris, Co-Founder and CEO of OmnisendWhen it comes to generating revenue, not all marketing automation workflows have the same pull. True, when we look at the most profitable workflows, cart recovery, welcome, and customer reactivation bring in the most revenue for online stores.

However, there’s an underappreciated workflow that has immense potential for those ready to take advantage of it. When it comes to open and click-through rates, order confirmation systematically performs better than any other automation workflow. What’s more, the purchase rate for order confirmation workflows is slowly climbing as retailers seize opportunities from this high engagement.

email automation workflow benchmark

Customers are already showing trust in your e-commerce store just after a purchase, and receiving an order confirmation email only strengthens that confidence. They’re far more likely to open and click this kind of email because they’re excited about their order, and they want to see when it will arrive.

Online sellers have been using these emails to make personalized product recommendations in connection with what the customer has already purchased. With open rates of 58.8% and click rates of 16.27%, this is a powerful way to get your customer already thinking about their next purchase with you (before the previous one has even shipped).

This is only amplified when you consider that customers often open an order confirmation/tracking email several times.

Even if the purchase rate for order confirmation workflows is lower than any other kind of workflow, we’re definitely seeing the impact for retailers that are using them to call the customer back into the customer journey. While this is a slower growing trend, I believe it will continue to grow until it becomes an absolute industry standard.

Hands-on Tip: Use transactional touchpoints to amplify marketing and sales

What should you do to get ahead of the trend? Begin treating your order confirmation workflows as opportunities to reconvert your customers.

Instead of sending the standard thank you with a recap of what your customer has ordered, offer complementary products and potentially a time-sensitive discount. This way, you can capitalize on a customer already thinking of their next purchase with you while feeling positive about the last purchase.

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and analyst. He is the founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, online marketing strategy, software selection, campaign management, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. He tested, reviewed, and wrote about 100+ business software including email marketing services, CRMs, ecommerce platforms, and online course creators. Published in-depth email marketing guides for financial service, ecommerce, travel, restaurant, and fashion industries.
Named one of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. Companies like Scania, KLM, Unilever, AEGON, CZ, FNV, NRC Media have asked me for advice.

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