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Customer-led tech to consider: An overview & resource guide

Building a competitive advantage in 2016 will require marketers to not only be customer- obsessed, but to properly invest in the tech that enables them to sense and respond to customer needs in real-time and across channels.

To do that, marketers must partner with their IT departments to adapt key marketing technologies.

If you haven’t already taken the leap – here are just a few technology categories to consider or revisit in order to help support a customer-obsessed culture and to win in today’s mobile-first, real-time world.

1.DMP/data cloud

The rise of DMPs (Data Management Platforms) has enabled marketers to move data needs that are traditionally IT-dependent and legacy-based systems to the cloud, where they are more readily accessible for targeted marketing efforts.

According to an April 2015 study by the Direct Marketing Association and Winterberry Group, nearly one-third (32.5%) of US marketing professionals said they now depend on a DMP to support their data-driving marketing efforts and that number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years.

While DMPs have been traditionally used to power real-time programmatic advertising, they are quickly expanding their identity management and integration capabilities in an effort to fuel multi-channel, orchestrated messaging.

Marketing leaders in this space include Adobe, Krux and Neustar as noted by the recent Forrester Wave : Data Management Platforms report.

However, as consumer interactions increasingly move across devices, the complexity of managing the customer journey becomes increasingly complex.

The growing importance of mobile signal data (location, linger time) and multi-screen orchestration will require marketers to look for providers with a robust and clear vision around this data.

Few if any DMPs exhibit any significant strength on this front, but a handful are looking to, including marketing and data powerhouse Epsilon.

Epsilon’s recent acquisition of Conversant, who has robust cross-channel, multi-screen targeting capabilities, makes them a provider to watch as Conversant’s capabilities are combined with Epsilon’s data/database strengths.

2. Personalization: Real-Time Personalization Drives Customer Experience (CX)

In an environment where marketers are asked to do more with less, smart marketers are increasingly turning to real-time predictive decisioning and content personalization tools to optimize their marketing efforts and, more importantly, to create great user experiences for their customers.

Using algorithms, national language processing, and machine learning, these tools can personalize content in real-time based on an individual consumer’s or segment of consumers’ behaviors, including their interactions (i.e. clicks).

This is a space that is quickly expanding and evolving as vendors look to address marketers CX obsession and expand their capabilities accordingly. In fact, a recent Forrester report found no leader in the space as Forrester and the vendors themselves admitted there was not one end-to-end solution as of yet.

Look for strong performers like Adobe, Hybris (SAP), Sitecore and IBM to strengthen their offerings in the years to come.

In addition, I expect we will see several new start-ups emerge to fill some of the key gap marketers yearn for particularly on the real-time predictive decisioning front.

Keep an eye on new up and coming players who are focused on real-time automated predictive content beyond the web including email, mobile, video and digital ads.

3.Marketing Services & Cloud Providers

Over the last several years, there has been much consolidation in the industry, particularly around marketing execution providers. Looking for leading email or social platforms?

Chances are they are like part of one of the large marketing services or cloud provider including Oracle, Salesforce, IBM, Adobe, Acxiom, Experian or Epsilon.

On the mobile front including SMS, Push, Mobile Advertising, platforms are still evolving. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find a single provider covering all mobile execution within a single platform.

4. Customer journey tracking & attribution feeds better analytics

There is little doubt that cross-channel attribution is in high demand among marketers as they look to better understand how their channels, tactics, and customers are truly performing.

Taking a holistic look can be difficult, yet essential, as marketers strive to refine their algorithmic efforts around content personalization, orchestration and, ultimately, the timing of those messages to provide customers.

Market leaders include Visual IQ, AOL/Convertro, and Google.

These are the basic essentials and while these key technologies remain critical to building a customer-obsessed platform, do not ignore the integration and compatibility requirements needed to make them work seamlessly together.

This will require IT and marketing to work closely together and, most importantly, a corporate culture aligned around a common goal and focus – building great customer experiences.

Good Luck.

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