What does a company have to do for its marketing to stand out from the crowd while still reaching its target group? The unsurprising answer: creativity. The more original and customer-oriented your marketing is, the greater your likelihood of attracting the customer.
But such creativity requires a lot of freedom – beyond the confines of work routines and fixed-hour days in the office. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help with throwing off these shackles and, in 2019, it will be a defining theme. But beware: creative marketing is ineffective if it ignores the current interests of its target group. Marking has to reflect customers’ needs, yet these needs are constantly changing. This is why there is such a demand for agile marketing. These two major trends – artificial intelligence and agility – will play a central role in 2019.
Intelligent assistants support the marketer
AI has long since been embedded in marketing departments’ daily routines, such as in customer relationship management. Intelligent algorithms analyse all existing customer data and connect it with other data sources, such as professional networks like LinkedIn, or geo-information systems. This detailed, customer-specific information can then be used to support personalised, targeted marketing campaigns. Lengthy, manual evaluations of sales histories are now a thing of the past. Today, AI frees up more time for marketing teams to develop creative campaigns.
Another example of AI in marketing is the function within online shopping platforms to recommend additional products based on the user’s previous activities, or by evaluating the buying behaviour of similar customer groups. The use of AI will only increase, because intelligent systems have another huge advantage over other IT applications: they are capable of learning. Through machine learning, they identify patterns and relationships based on existing data, thus developing their own skills.
Siri, Alexa & Co. reach maturity
Intelligent algorithms also lie behind voice assistants. Answers to users’ voice commands are based on their preferences, which are stored as data and patterns. According to a recent survey by the Digital Transformation Institute of Capgemini, more than a third of German consumers are already using language assistants, while one in six prefer a language assistant to a website. In fact, 10% would already rather turn to Alexa, Siri & Co. than go to a store. It is a growing trend. Language assistants are also increasingly used in digital B2B marketing. Enquiries about delivery status – already possible in many online shops – are only the beginning.
More than a third of German consumers are already using language assistants, while one in six prefer a language assistant to a website. Click To Tweet
Some even believe that the classic computer keyboard will disappear in the coming years, with most business handled via voice recognition. This will open up new opportunities in marketing, including in advertising and customer communication. Intelligent software will increasingly evaluate sound files, such as customer conversations, and provide suggestions on how to improve communication based on customer behaviour, for example. Companies in the lead are those whose language assistants are able to provide the best technical and linguistic answers to customers’ enquiries.
More time for the essentials
AI will also make everyday life easier for marketing and communication teams working in large-scale projects, for example in the preparation of multi-site, cross-border campaigns or conferences. Learning algorithms will assist in administrative tasks by controlling calendars and organisers, scheduling appointments, automatically displaying reminder notifications, and even independently booking transport and hotel reservations. Creative departments, freed from the monotony of routine tasks, will then be able to concentrate on working creatively to develop new advertising ideas.
Learning algorithms will assist in administrative tasks by controlling calendars and organisers, scheduling appointments, automatically displaying reminder notifications, and even independently booking transport and hotel… Click To Tweet
Speed requires agility from marketers – Rethink how business is organised
A company has to be able to react immediately to changes in the market – this applies in particular to marketing, the gateway to the market. The number of variables to consider has increased significantly:
- Individualised forms of advertising and communication (marketing customisation);
- Personalised customer interaction occurring at the right times;
- Advertising materials that take into account regional and cultural differences;
- A multiplicity of recording channels.
Today, marketing employees need to very quickly adjust to new requirements, frameworks and conditions. The demand for an agile way of working is increasingly important in marketing. However, agility requires a high degree of flexibility in carrying out processes, as well as simplified corporate structures: self-organising teams rather than rigid hierarchies; an open communication culture and very short decision-making processes. The individual is given more freedom, but also more job responsibility.
Mobile work is on the rise
An agile corporate culture also provides solutions to changes in employees’ demands from the world of work. More and more employees are looking to flexibly organise their working hours and work remotely, and this trend will continue in 2019. Companies are rewarded for trusting their employees and granting them more freedom.
Not only are employees happier, increasing their sense of commitment to the employer, they are also more productive, as proven by a recent study conducted by the Institute of German Business. Marketers sometimes allowed to work in different environments than at a desk are more likely to develop ideas and be creative. However, in addition to making business processes more agile, companies must digitalise associated jobs. A survey by civey in May 2018 shows the importance of introducing digital tools to employees: although 45% of respondents wish to work remotely, 43% are not interested in using the digital programs that make working outside the office possible.
Although 45% of respondents wish to work remotely, 43% are not interested in using the digital programs that make working outside the office possible. Click To Tweet
In the future, more bosses and managers will be asked to pave the way for their employees into digitisation through training, establishing role models and creating a corporate culture that allows for trial and error.
Even planning becomes agile
These days, classic project and resource plans are often outdated before they have even been finalised. It is because of this that marketing agencies are already using modern working methods like Kanban. In order to control processes in a way that prevents employees from getting bogged down in too many parallel projects, Kanban limits the number of tasks an individual can process at any given time. Once this limit has been reached, you must complete tasks or delegate them to colleagues before you are able to accept another.
These days, classic project and resource plans are often outdated before they have even been finalised. Click To Tweet
To quickly get an overview of tasks, at any time, it is possible to visualise their processing status on a Kanban board, to which all team members have access. In the simplest example, tasks are assigned to three consecutive stages: ‘Pending’ (backlog), ‘In Progress’ and ‘Completed’ (done). If there is a problem with a task, it will be marked accordingly and the team can decide on a solution together. This is the secret to its success: every team member not only sees their own to-dos, but also how busy their colleagues are and whether they need support. If many jobs are marked as critical at the same time or are progressing slowly, the Kanban board provides timely alerts about difficulties – usually even before people get the sense that things are not going well.
Inefficient processes are continuously improved. Such change and optimisation are based on the following methodology: counteraction is more effective than stubbornly sticking to the plan. Thus, problems of deadline pressures are addressed immediately instead of simply being put on the back burner.
The major trends in marketing push on: AI and agility will remain top topics in 2019
The world of work will continue to change rapidly in 2019. Progressive digitalisation will transform marketing and communication. If marketing departments and agencies want to remain successful in the future, they will not be able to avoid the use of agile techniques and artificial intelligence.
Also published on Medium.