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Marketing mind-blowers for 2020!

30-second summary:

  • Marketing siloes will cease to exist – We should expect a new model for marketing that integrates a marketers’ current silo into the rest of the organization to solve alignment problems between marketing and other departments.
  • Vanity Metrics vs. Tangible Conversions: How to take the customer beyond ‘clicks’ – In the past, marketers have been focused on vanity metrics like clicks, but what they want now is to drive conversions. The power of AI/ML assisted customer intelligence will play a much larger role for marketers and deliver on actual conversions.
  • The future of 3rd party data: how to reach your audience in a privacy-centric world – Third-party cookie changes combined with CCPA and GDPR will diminish the viability of any ad provider that doesn’t have a first-party relationship (authenticated), making them the only viable ad platforms.

Sure, I could have called this article “Three Marketing Technology Predictions for 2020,” but then you’d probably think this was another predictable collection of end-of-year predictions, and it’s anything but that.

In fact, from where I sit, 2020 is going to be a non-stop adventure for marketers.

So, with a nod of inspiration to Rick and Morty, let’s get schwifty with these three 2020 marketing mind-blowers…

Prediction #1: The siloed marketing organization disappears

Marketing isn’t going away in 2020. Rather, it’s growing roots. As the marketing organization gains deeper insight into the customer journey, it will become more of a cross-functional team than a separate department.

This doesn’t mean that the marketing function itself is going away; instead, marketing will be infused in every part of the business.

This is part of a broader trend as businesses have shifted the conversation from funnels to customer lifecycles. In the old model, marketing might own the top of the funnel and then hand the customer relationship over to sales once a customer purchased a product.

Today, there are tools that allow marketers to manage the entire customer relationship, from acquisition to conversion to customer loyalty.

Marketers now have insights they never had before: they know what triggers customer conversions, what products and services customers are interested in, what cross-sell and upsell offers are likely to work, which customers are at risk of defection and much more.

As a result, marketing will become the caretaker of the customer lifecycle, embedded with various teams (e.g., sales, customer support, product development) to develop customer-centric strategies and initiatives.

I’m not saying that marketing will own the customer journey, but they will become the primary owners of customer intelligence. This empowers the marketing organization to transcend their traditional top-of-funnel role and shepherd customer engagement from beginning to end.

It’s a radically different view of marketing, which for too long has been viewed as a cost center.

In 2020, marketing becomes the customer center, where organizations look to make sure their efforts are aligned with customer needs and interests, as well as look for those metrics that can tell them what’s working, what’s not, and how to optimize for success.

Prediction #2: We’ll finally say goodbye to vanity metrics

Marketing has often been considered both art and science. The trouble with art is, it’s hard to quantify; you don’t assign the Mona Lisa a score of 100.

So in order to show their value to the organization and specifically the impact of their efforts on the bottom line, marketers have resorted to some pretty creative math. They’ve counted clicks, opens, impressions, even eyeballs.

Basically, marketers have had to invent numbers because the real numbers were fragmented across disconnected data silos, multiple channels, and myriad marketing campaigns.

In 2020, we will see a change in how marketers measure results.

New marketing technology such as customer data platforms (CDPs) provides marketers with visibility into the entire customer journey for the first time.

Instead of measuring results campaign by campaign, marketers can finally track a customer all the way from first touch to conversion to customer lifetime value. What that means is marketing can now draw a clear line between a campaign, conversion, and sales.

Until recently, marketing measurement tools focused on a specific channel.

Marketing would run an email campaign, for example, and count how many people clicked on a link embedded in that campaign, but the story stopped there. A click is only a tiny snapshot of a much larger customer journey.

Snapshot metrics don’t tell the story of what happened after that initial click. Did the customer research a product online and purchase it in a store two days later? Did they return to the website next week to look for something else?

As a CEO, I’m a lot more interested in growing revenue than accumulating clicks. If you can connect the dots between campaigns, customer acquisition, and customer lifetime value, you’ve got my attention.

By moving from vanity metrics to “money” metrics, marketers will have a lot more leverage when it comes to deciding how businesses will spend money to make money.

And, as a bonus, marketers will be able to justify that spend because they’ll know who their target customer is, what offers they’re interested in and which actions lead to conversions. This will allow them to optimize their ad spend accordingly and  get the best results.

Prediction #3: The third-party cookie concept crumbles

This is a dire prediction for a lot of third-party data providers, but one that’s probably been a long time coming. Every industry recognizes that data privacy is a big concern.

The Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are the latest examples in a growing trend toward stronger online consumer protection. And while consumer protection is a good thing, it’s not good news for companies that depend on or sell third-party data.

Drawing the line this time isn’t the regulatory agencies but the web browsers.

In the past, companies could track and sell consumer data without the consumer’s express permission. So if you visited a retailer online looking for a television and then visited an online technical publication to look at product reviews for home media systems, you’d start to see digital ads for TVs due to the cookies.

The publisher could buy a cookie from a third-party letting them know about your retail visit and serve you ads for a new television. But browsers such as Firefox, Safari and, soon, Google Chrome will no longer allow those third-party cookies to be shared for fear of running afoul of legislation like CCPA and GDPR.

Instead, those browsers will require that companies have a first-party relationship with the consumer to access cookies from other sites.

This will have a major ripple effect through the industry in 2020. In the front lines are the third-party data providers who have built their business model around cookie sharing.

Simply put, they’ll need to find a new revenue model for their business if they plan to stay in business. Also affected are the thousands of publishers and sites that, until recently, relied on third-party cookies to serve up personalized ads and experiences.

Now, they’ll need to establish first-party relationships with consumers if they wish to store and share cookies. You’ve already seen the effects of this in the recent and rising frequency of online sites that now ask you to sign up to access content.

It’s not all bad news, though. If you’re Amazon, Facebook or Google—companies that have established first-party relationships with millions of users—you’ve just been handed an even bigger slice of the third-party data provider market.

Ironically, part of the goal of preventing third-party data providers from selling consumer data was to create a more level playing field, but instead has ended up shutting out a lot of smaller competitors.

I predict two things will happen as a result of these cookie wars. One, we’ll see more sites become “walled gardens” as first-party relationships are now required.

Also, we’ll see companies establish second-party data sharing pools that have very explicit rules about how data can be shared and with whom. Neither of these scenarios are bad things in and of themselves.

In fact, putting pressure on companies to create value-added online experiences that customers will “sign up” for is fundamentally good. But companies will need to move swiftly to adapt to the new laws, as ad revenue and customer retention are at risk.

So there you have it: three predictions that should get marketers pumped and prepared for the coming year. It might seem like an alternate universe out of Rick and Morty, but this is our new reality—and, incidentally, much better than the one with telepathic spiders and awesome ice cream.

James McDermott is co-founder and CEO of Lytics. He can be found on Twitter @jamesnmcdermott.

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