Change: The Promise of Technology to Marketing

Donovan Cronkhite
President, RJM

Posted On March 28, 2017

If the promise of technology has always been to make life easier, it has surely fulfilled its mission for the consumer, and left the small business owner and marketer behind to enjoy the aftermath. As the speed of both the progression and adaptation of technology continues to climb, consumers become more mobile, less attentive, and ultimately, less brand loyal.

And the business owner and marketing executive is left to try to adapt. Staying informed on all the options, and which ones make a difference, can sometimes feel like a new position in itself. 

The power of the consumer voice

“Okay Google, can you build a way to bypass all of the work and effort I’ve put into SEO?”

"Sure. Would you like me to have Amazon help too?”

No marketer would ever pose that question to Google Home, the new voice activated speaker from Google. But that’s what Google did. Keeping up with Amazon’s Alexa technology released two years earlier, Google entered the fray of voice activated technology this year with their Home product.

Between the two, consumers can now find the score to last night’s game (no need to wade through SportsCenter anymore), reorder ranch dressing (no need to go to the store), find a nearby jewelry store (no need for an online search), or ask for today’s news headlines (no need to visit that website). All by just talking to the air.

The implications of this voice activated technology run deep into the business world. Amazon and Google are leading a charge that bypasses the web as we’ve grown accustomed to it. Voice activated search displays no images, offers no downloads, and returns a short, and best, answer to the problem posed. Within seconds, without any brand interaction, a consumer can have their needs shipped to their house – with no opportunity for another business to convince them that they have a better solution.

Everything on the go

If this sounds moderately familiar to you, it may because hearing people say “Okay Google…” or “Siri…” into their mobile phones has become as common as the chirp from the talk-to-talk phones fifteen years ago.

While the voice technology on mobile search poses many of the same challenges as the voice speakers, traditional search is also affected by this trend to be tied to our phones. In November 2016, Google announced that their search engine results were going to a mobile first index. With the majority of searches happening on a mobile device, Google is looking to follow the consumer behavior and return the best possible results for users.

For those businesses who haven’t visited their website in years, the time to do so may be upon them. Website loading speed, responsive design, structured data and social media meta tags are becoming more important to making sure that a website is ranked highly in search rankings.

When factoring in the changes to the ranking factors in June 2016 that may be taking into consideration user behavior on search as well as on a company website, the consumer is helping shape technology through their very behavior. Machine learning is taking Internet technology to a new, accurate, and data driven future.

Marketing without doing anything

It may be appropriate then to end with a final technology innovation that is starting to emerge as a challenge to the marketing department – marketing automation. While certainly not new, the tools that allow for effective marketing automation are maturing and becoming affordable for the small to medium business.

Marketing automation allows for email marketing to not only be completely automated for delivery – months to years planned out into the future – but also for those email campaigns to be completely customized based upon a customer’s interaction with the emails or a business’ website.

In a world where customers are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of advertising, delivering personalized messages is the new strategy. From demographically targeted ads to marketing automation, the consumers are driving their own personal marketing message.

Automation works by tracking every action the user takes with connected digital assets – email, the website, and even downloadable files. Based upon the customer’s action, or inaction, with these elements, the campaign changes and shapes itself into the direction that the business has specified. While the upfront work of developing these workflows and interactions takes considerable time, once it’s done, it’s “set it and forget it”. The technology takes over, updating and realigning with no input from the business.

Challenge or opportunity?

The lifelong adage of marketing has always been that 50 percent of advertising works, it’s just unknown which 50 percent that is. With technology changing the landscape of the industry, it’s becoming easier and easier to identify exactly which 50 percent isn’t working. The question is whether this is seen as a challenge or an opportunity.

While wonder, cleverness, wit, and amazement will never disappear from great marketing, the delivery and tracking of it is changing every day. Depending on how you wish to view the marketing technology market, the opportunity may be either to drive forward, capturing new market share and brand loyal customers, or to be left in the aftermath of the changes that it creates.

In a world where customers are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of advertising, delivering personalized messages is the new strategy. From demographically targeted ads to marketing automation, the consumers are driving their own personal marketing message.


Originally published in Jackson Magazine, February 2017