Three trends that will (soon) totally change the future of data-driven marketing

Data-driven marketing is about to undergo a seismic shift.

Advances in technology, changes in social trends and the ability to predict future behavior will present powerful new opportunities – and challenges – for connecting with audiences.

Here are the three trends that will change how marketers interact with, learn about and reach audiences in the years to come.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an ever-prevalent buzzword these days.

You could fill an encyclopedia set with all the articles that are some variation on “How artificial intelligence is changing (insert topic here)”.

But with marketing, which is increasingly migrating to the digital world, the trend isn’t just a cliché – it’s real. Artificial intelligence will soon transform how we think about marketing.

Some of that will be in ways we can’t even imagine. Others we are just now starting to realize.

Today we agonize over data sets, trying to discern what’s important and the decisions that we need to make after looking at them.

Artificial intelligence will, in the future, make these decisions for us. And they won’t be done over time, but instantaneously, thousands of times a minute.

It will also be able to “consider” far more options than any of us ever considered possible.

Most of us, when we’re trying to make improvements to a campaign, usually limit ourselves to two options: A and B. If we’re thinking exceptionally clearly, we could probably add a C or potentially even a D in there.

With AI, there won’t be any such limitations. According to Lynda Partner, the vice president of marketing and analytics at Pythian, said at a recent analytics event in Ottawa, computers will be able to instantaneously choose from not only options A, B, C and D, but E, F, G, H, I…

You get the picture.

Data privacy

Consumers have never been more aware of how their data is used.

People used to blindly sign up for social media accounts with little regard for what they were forfeiting in terms of privacy.

But now a series of high-profile controversies have thrust stories about the collection and use of data firmly into the public consciousness.

First there was the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which embroiled social media giant Facebook in a data scandal hot enough to land founder Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress.

Then there was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),which came into effect in May 2018. The legislation, which the European Union adopted, is the most comprehensive set of government regulations aimed at protecting users’ privacy to ever be adopted.

The impact on brands, in the short-term, has been far-reaching. Organizations the world over have scrambled to comply with the new legislation, bombarding their users with data regulation emails and adopting hastily drawn-up privacy regulations.

What does it mean for reaching audiences?

Data-driven marketers will need to improve their value proposition if they want to convince audiences to sign over their privacy.

The long-term impact will be even more pronounced: Users are now far more aware of how their data is used.

And there’s no turning back.

Predictive analytics

Ask your average digital marketer if they have the ability to predict the future and you should get a response somewhere in the continuum between “let me just grab my Grays Sports Almanac” and “are you crazy?”.

The book supervillain Biff Tannen used to hijack the future in Back to the Future Part II.

That’s because, to this point, most data-driven digital marketers have used data to analyse and report on the past.

Sure, those numbers are used as the basis for making future decisions. But usually that’s done by humans, not the analytics programs doing the reporting.

Soon, though, analytics tools will be powerful enough that they can make educated predictions about the future.

Tools for accurately predicting customer behavior, qualifying leads, product development, audience targeting and overall marketing strategies will all become more sophisticated as predictive analytics develop further.

Mark Brownlee is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Banfield.

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