Even though we’ve long surpassed the “Mad Men” age of advertising, I’ve seen, first-hand, too many marketing organizations that are still holding on to old methods of marketing like batching and blasting. Too many brands are still trusting their guts and distributing one-size-fits-all messages.

But is this really the best way to capture audience attention, and earn their loyalty?

Can we all agree that one core purpose of marketing is to generate maximum conversions for minimum investment? If we can, then we can also concur that:

  • Obtaining that audience/community/database needs to be accomplished as strategically, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible — which requires enhanced methods of acquisition and intelligent marketing
  • An ever-evolving digital landscape requires that we adjust with new and novel approaches; and that
  • What worked in 2000 — just having a website, blog, social presence, and running digital ads where we think our targets spend time — certainly won’t work in 2018
twitter If a core purpose of #marketing is to generate maximum conversions for minimum investment, then we must be intelligent, novel, & strategic w/ modern-day approaches CLICK TO TWEET

As a forward-leaning digital brand, how can you prepare for the next five years and cultivate your community in the most effective way? Let’s outline three ways.

Use Artificial Intelligence to Augment Your Marketing

Artificial intelligence is the study of building systems that can make intelligent decisions and is the “blanket” technology under which other capabilities like deep learning, machine learning, pattern/image recognition, neural networks, natural language processing, bots, autonomous systems, and more live.

Artificial intelligence marketing is the bridge between marketing and data. It enables brands leverage technology and algorithms to understand and anticipate the behaviors of customers in order to serve better, more personal, more relevant experiences that lead to increased loyalty over time.

Kenny Tripura“AI can help deliver a personalized marketing journey. Through SMS, push notifications, email marketing and content recommendations, AI can make suggestions that match customer interests. It achieves this personalization by implementing mass-scale automated A/B testing to determine the best way of doing things. The algorithm updates itself to improve the personalization of future marketing.” (Forbes, 2018)

Kenny TripuraManaging Director, Edkent MediaLinkedIn

The future will see both greater adoption of AI marketing technology, and a wider array of AI-related technologies.

We teamed up with Forrester last year to see just how prepared retail brands were for the AI marketing explosion. We found that, as of June 2017, 42% of marketers were experimenting with AI marketing in some way, while the other 58% are either interested or evaluating.

AI marketing is here, and it sets the foundation for a range of ways to future-proof your brand.

Institute Data Privacy and Protection Measures Within Your Growth, Acquisition, and Opt-In Approach

Consumer concern about how companies are using the data they give is going to continue to rise. Data privacy and protection is an area that demands your focus as we go forward.

Data-related news continues to dominate headlines. Last year, 143 Americans were affected by the Equifax breach. Most recently, the Facebook data issue brought forth by Cambridge Analytica caused many of the social media company’s users and advertisers to raise important questions. And clear consent is already the law of the land in some parts of the world. The GDPR is about to significantly impact the way brands request and use customer data.

Related Content: What You Need to Know About the GDPR [Plus Bonus Influencer eBook]

In the future, rather than a company taking customer data as the prerequisite of a purchase and then doing whatever they like with it, a company will have to get explicit permission to use data. Then the brand can credentialize the data — but when the customer wishes to regain control of their data, brands will be forced to de-credentialize it and return all of it to the customer.

It used to be that we had a relatively binary relationship with customers, centralizing access to data so that only we could use it.

But now, customers — not companies — decide who has access.

Consider Ways Emerging Technologies — Like Blockchain and AR/VR — Could Help

We’ve already covered blockchain, and how the strength and holistic view of its secure network (due to its decentralized data storage structure) can help marketing teams see every transaction made per individual.

Related Content: What Is Blockchain & How Is It Changing Marketing?

Emerging technologies that are still relatively untapped and unexplored, like blockchain, are beginning to make an impact on the digital marketing landscape and will only grow in relevance in the future. In the same way, investing early in companies with high growth potential can be incredibly lucrative. Learning now how these kinds of high-potential technologies can benefit your team in the coming years will yield dividends for your business.

What other technologies are worth learning more about? Consider:

  • Augmented reality and immersive experiences. In an age where our lives are impacted by tech from almost every angle — from online shopping to social media — using AR to create immersive customer experiences can create exceptionally valuable – and sometimes even fun – experiences for consumers.
  • Virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) will continue to expand its reach into e-commerce, enhancing the shopping experience by allowing brands to make meaningful interactive services available to customers.
  • Automation. Most of today’s brands already use automation at scale to operationalize, personalize, and enhance relationships with customers. This will become more sophisticated over time.
  • Geo-location. Pairing your mobile app and push notifications with the ability to tell where customers are will help you serve up mega-relevant location-based offers.
  • Virtual assistants and chatbots. Chatbots are already being used by companies like Domino’s Pizza and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to drive sales and enhance the CX.

Editor’s note: this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good place to begin. Get our most complete list of predictions for the next 5 years here.

Looking Forward

Marketing strategies that worked 10 or even five years ago are outdated. It’s no longer enough to attract and retain customers. We can’t become complacent, letting opportunistic technological innovations that could propel our brands to new heights pass us by.

“Digital marketing” and “marketing” are the same concept — when we say “marketing” today, it is assumed that we’re leveraging technology and digital channels somehow to acquire, engage, and retain customers.

Owning and future-proofing your organization’s strategy for digital marketing success means leveraging AI marketing, increasing transparency about how and why you use data, and getting ready for the coming wave of technology.

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Michael Becker

Michael Becker is the Digital Content Manager at Emarsys where he manages the enterprise editorial strategy and content marketing program. Michael has developed thriving content programs with three SaaS companies in Indianapolis and is a published author on Forbes, Elite Daily, Jeff Bullas’ blog, and more. He is a proud alumni of Butler University.

Connect with Michael: LinkedIn@mjbecker_