The world of marketing has never been more influenced by the emergence of new technologies than it is today. From the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to augmented reality (AR) and, of course, performance marketing technology, the potential to super-charge our marketing efforts through digital transformation is huge.
This isn’t something that has gone unnoticed by the wider business world, either. In fact, recent research conducted by Capgemini found that 87% of companies believe digital transformation is a competitive advantage, while more than one quarter (27%) see the issue as a ‘matter of survival’.
The magic of marketing technology
Taking a closer look at the issue, it comes as no surprise that marketing is the most impacted by emerging technologies. Marketers are already working across a huge number of channels and touchpoints, and many of these technologies are designed to be used naturally within these digital environments. The machine learning elements of AI, in particular, can be incredibly valuable in terms of performance marketing, and also for personalising communications through the analysis and orchestration of customer data, helping to engage with customers on an individual level.
The potential of these technologies is ultimately limited only by the imagination of businesses, but one particularly encouraging example is the future use of machine learning to optimise spend management within performance marketing. In a separate PerformanceIN article, Trackonomics CEO Hanan Maayan writes: “Channels like search and display have allowed advertisers to manage their marketing spend more effectively than affiliate has. This is often blamed on affiliate’s diverse publisher base. However, using machine learning algorithms to dynamically process historical performance data, it’s possible for advertisers and publishers to link spend to performance accurately, allowing affiliate marketers to understand the implications of spend changes before they are made.”
Optimisation over transformation
The opportunities available to marketers through digital transformation often leads them to jump the gun without considering some fundamental questions. This can lead to huge inefficiencies: having the latest technologies in place does not automatically equal increased effectiveness. Instead of thinking about things strictly from a transformation perspective, they need to start thinking in terms of optimisation.
Ultimately, before undergoing a digital transformation of any kind, it is imperative that all brands consider whether the desired technologies will deliver significant improvements over what is currently in place — and if so, how? This is the fundamental question behind all sensible business decisions and should be asked when thinking about anything related to digital transformation.
As an extension of the above example around, let’s say that a brand wants to optimise their spend management efforts, and so they go ahead and invest a huge amount of money into the necessary AI technology without thinking twice. However, without having the knowledge of how to tweak and teach the machine learning algorithms to achieve the desired goal, the AI technology will be of minimal use at all. Assessing existing knowledge and identifying the true value of technology should always come before diving into a purchase.
Business value always comes first
In order to achieve digital optimisation over digital transformation, organisations need to adopt a ‘test and learn approach’ - one that allows marketers to try out new methods and technologies in a risk-free environment while using the results to refine their final approach. By learning to walk before they start running, businesses will be far more likely to benefit from their investments.
There are various orchestration platforms that can help marketers make better use of their data and deliver more intelligent and meaningful journeys according to customers’ personal preferences, hobbies and interests. Ideally, marketers should try to take advantage of a platform that is agile, easy to set up and is flexible enough to accommodate all of the touchpoints and channels they regularly use — as well as those that they might want to use in the future.
With marketers under increased pressure to continually improve performance and optimise efforts, investing in technology can often seem like an easy solution. However, without the necessary knowledge and expertise behind it, the truth is this is rarely the case.
Instead of seeing new technology as some miraculous remedy to all marketing woes, it should be utilised in combination with existing systems, platforms and human experience, while using available data as a starting point for any digital transformation efforts. Only then will marketers see genuine ROI on their technological investments.