Digital marketing saw a surge in 2020, as digital channels were utilised in place of closed physical stores, due to lockdowns worldwide, and the importance of online presence is set to continue post-pandemic. However, there is still the matter of gaining consumer trust to consider when it comes to data usage, and marketers need to think more creatively about how they build relationships through their brands. With the customer journey reaching more touchpoints than ever as life beyond the pandemic takes hold, marketing technologies (martech) look set to play a key role in the creation of personalised, cross-channel experiences, going forward.
It’s estimated that worldwide annual spending on advertising totals over $600 billion, and when it comes to driving value from digital marketing, using data-focused technology, shifting from reliance on social media to more organic approaches is key.
“There has been a change in the data that marketing teams have available to them,” said Farhad Koodoruth, partner at Threepipe Reply. “From a legal perspective, use of third party data has become more challenging, which impacts the use of second party data.
“Anything you can build from zero party or first party is going to be the most effective way to build a target what needs to be done from an advertising standpoint.
“For most people, challenges stem from the infrastructure and data quality. There’s still a lot of behavioural data that Google and social platforms have, which is very powerful and scalable, and it’s all about building your own supplement where you need to.”
Koodoruth spoke to Information Age about how marketing teams can make use of customer data in an ethical, trustworthy manner, as well as the digital marketing trends that will emerge in the coming years.
The emergence of data breaches and controversies around data privacy, among global tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook, has meant that organisations in all sectors need to think more about how they can retain consumer trust. In the marketing space, there is still work to be done before most teams can reach the value of zero party data, with most assets at their disposal coming from behavioural insights, as opposed to proactive granting of data from the user themselves.
To operate in as ethical a way as possible, and become able to obtain and drive from zero party assets, Koodoruth believes that use of less data “in some respects” would be the way forward.
He explained: “In truth, consumers won’t be willing to give you as much data as they already do unknowingly. Marketing teams need to understand how to use this with the right permissions.
“Good use of first party data is needed, as this is the only area that really brings scalability. However, I still see, in a lot of organisations, that the infrastructure to understand first party data isn’t readily available, due to interlinking of data and the use of CDPs (customer data platforms) still being a work in progress.”
Koodoruth went on to state that complexity within larger organisations, when it comes to using CDP solutions, tends to be higher than within small and medium-sized businesses, meaning integration and linking of data sources takes longer to complete. But once this is achieved, much-needed transparency with consumers can be realised easier.
“The data showing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is in most businesses, but some of it sits in siloes, meaning staff across the organisation are left unsure about what their colleagues are doing with user data,” Koodoruth added.
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Emerging marketing trends
Over the next five years, data-driven marketing strategies are set to continue evolving and become more intuitive in regards to customer behaviour. But for marketing teams, there will be a balance to strike between intuition and user experience.
When considering the biggest marketing trends that could emerge in the near future, Threepipe Reply’s partner identified improved use of AI and machine learning as a likely point of growth: “This could be used to see how businesses and campaigns are run, and figure out how this can be more effective from a global point of view. I see this being a trend not only within marketing, but across the whole organisation.”
According to Koodoruth, increasing fears around data platforms hosted by global corporations such as Amazon and Google will need to be counteracted: “I see these platforms as being increasingly ubiquitous. They look at things that you search for and buy, and now devices like Alexa, Google Home, and Google Nest are in people’s homes as well.
“I think what we’ll see more often is that these companies will look to move the point of transaction closer to the platform, so that consumers will be able to buy directly from a Google shopping ad. There are already tests happening on Instagram in the US on the possibility of direct-to-ad, and while this could decrease friction, brands will become merely distributors, with many branding duties disappearing.
“I believe that the adoption of optimised data architecture is an absolute prerequisite, because it’s the only thing that will allow scaled companies to thrive in this world going forwards.”
How Reply aids marketing teams
Reply is one such organisation that looks to help its clients achieve consistently personalised, cross-channel customer journeys. The organisation is built and acts as a network of specialist teams, with Threepipe Reply in particular being Reply’s brand performance agency. Threepipe Reply helps its clients to optimise its marketing, advertising and reach in the front-end.
“At Reply, we can bring together the right expertise across the whole organisation. This entails everything from internal architecture and how you organise data, to the customer journey and engagement,” said Koodoruth.
“Our clients are all at different phases of their evolution, and engagement is also very different across the board. At Threepipe Reply, we’re all about getting that data architecture in the correct place so we can use that data in the front-end, with the correct permissions.
“Increasingly, we’re looking at finding where analytics in the back end can be improved, and bring in experts to plug that gap.”
This article was written as part of a paid-for content campaign with Reply