Marketing operations trends are worth watching. They are the engine that drives your campaigns. You face a constant uphill battle to meet your objectives upfront without sufficient operational excellence in the back.
Technology is firmly in the spotlight with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and machine learning. Meanwhile, the average company will spend about 13.6% of its total budget on marketing in 2023 alone, meaning the operations aspect of a marketing campaign must take center stage.
Let’s examine the marketing operations trends and innovations driving the operational side of marketing.
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Marketing operations have moved at break-neck speed in the last decade. There are more than 11,000 marketing technology (MarTech) solutions available today. This influx demonstrates a market hungry for innovative solutions to harness the resources available to companies.
Traditionally, marketing operations consisted of a couple of tech-focused people pulling data and evaluating campaign effectiveness. Today, marketing operations capabilities are a top-tier priority, driven by data and innovative tools designed to streamline processes.
Marketing operations isn’t a support role but a primary one. Value-added solutions producing measurable results are necessary for any company serious about long-term growth.
Data-driven marketing is the first of the marketing operations trends that have been consistent for years. It remains at the heart of the industry, with brands figuring out how to best use their data to predict the future.
Businesses generate more data than ever. Yet, most still don’t know how to use it. According to one survey, 87% of marketers said that data is their company’s most under-utilized asset. Swimming against the tide and mastering data utilization in marketing operations will make campaigns stand out. Here’s how:
- Identifying your target niche
- Segmenting your audience based on behavior
- Personalized offers and communications
- Finger-tip results tracking
- ROI optimization
Still, marketers must have the data infrastructure and a culture of data literacy to utilize the information and achieve goals. Despite the trends, they need to make data-driven decisions, the driving force of marketing operations.
Leaders pinpoint meeting customer demands for personalization as vital. Thus, data-driven marketing spending topped $29 billion in 2021, a 26% year-on-year growth. As marketing operations trends continue developing, teams will likely see an even more significant increase in the coming years.
The demand for personalization is nothing new. Customers want to be treated like names, not numbers. Nearly 80% of consumers said they were likelier to buy from companies offering tailored experiences.
How can you offer 24/7 personalization to millions of customers at once? Competitive companies leverage technology, such as machine learning and AI, for successful personalization at scale. Let’s look at some of the ways Netflix is doing this:
- Adaptive Content – Netflix knows the importance of visuals in getting you to click. The company annotates and ranks thousands of frames from existing movies and TV programs and chooses the correct thumbnail based on your preferences.
- Tailored Recommendations – Like other companies, including Amazon, Netflix invests heavily in personalized recommendations based on tracking subscriber activity. It’s estimated that its recommendation engine costs $1 million to run annually. Yet, that same engine is expected to save Netflix $1 billion annually while driving more business.
Although costly and complex, the latest marketing operations trends make existing systems more accurate. It’s about knowing what your audience wants and giving it to them. It’s why 66% of customers now expect companies to understand their needs.
Conversational marketing is a relatively new approach that uses dialogue-driven interactions. It leverages real-time conversations to move leads through their buying journeys, organically increasing conversions while driving brand recognition.
Voice search and conversational marketing may include a sales call, but the size of your team will always determine procedures and outcomes. AI-led chatbots, including ChatGPT-powered bots, allow companies to take advantage of conversational marketing for the first time.
With more access to smart speakers and voice assistants, users can ask direct questions and expect immediate answers. It’s why the chatbot industry is expected to top $142 billion globally by the end of 2024. This marketing operations trend plays into the drive toward authentic omnichannel customer experiences, whereby your company is everywhere your audience wants it to be instantly.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two marketing operations trends that have been around for over a decade. Here are two examples: fashion retailers use AR-powered virtual try-ons to show shoppers how they may look in an outfit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate agents offered online VR experiences instead of in-person tours.
AR and VR are expanding into other industries also. Lucasfilm and Google designed an AR app to promote the second season of “The Mandalorian.” The app lets fans visualize the fantastic characters in their living rooms. The experience allows viewers to re-enact the best moments from season one – capitalizing on the popularity of Baby Yoda. They can also add cool effects to see themselves on famous planets from the Star Wars franchise.
Account-based marketing is the strategic approach of concentrating a marketing department’s resources on a select group of high-value accounts. However, giving preferential focus to your best customers is nothing new. According to a Forbes report, most ABM programs see measurable improvements in growth, including:
- 84% of marketers attest to increased pipeline development.
- 72% of marketers claim ABM delivers a higher ROI.
- 66% of marketers say ABM significantly improves their sales and marketing alignment.
Two of the leading marketing operations trends focus on how companies market themselves and what customers expect from the brands they patronize. Marketing operations leaders must determine how to overcome the trust gap. Today, 79% of B2C leaders believe their customers trust their brand, yet only 59% of customers said the same.
Various reasons exist for a trust gap, but how companies leverage the data for marketing remains an area of concern. In one survey, just 21% of people said they trust global brands to keep their data safe.
Alongside concerns over data use, there’s also a consumer demand for eco-friendly products and brands. Sustainability is a significant priority, especially among younger generations. Still, placing a recycling bin in the office and putting a picture on social media isn’t enough for today’s consumers. They want to see meaningful action, and you’ll need to build the trust that makes them believe it.
Cynicism is a huge trend that marketing operations face due to past poor behavior from the business community. For example, a European Union (EU) study found that 53% of green claims on products and services are vague, unfounded, or downright misleading. Approximately 40% of them had no supporting evidence at all.
And in the U.S., the number was even higher. Plus, 68% of executives anonymously admitted to greenwashing. It’s left consumers wary, and bridging this trust gap will significantly challenge marketing operations going forward.
These marketing operations trends act as waypoints for the future but also reveal brand-new challenges for brands to overcome. Some of these significant concerns include:
- Overcoming data privacy concerns
- Complying with tighter security and privacy regulations
- Preventing an over-reliance on technology
- Adopting innovations
- Staying up to date on a rapidly shifting landscape
Companies that break down departmental siloes and work as one will have a significant edge in overcoming these challenges.
The landscape of marketing operations is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by a surge in technological advancements and evolving consumer expectations. The integration of artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning is reshaping how marketing campaigns are devised and executed. With businesses allocating a significant portion of their budgets to marketing, the focus has shifted to optimizing operations, making them more efficient, data-driven, and customer-centric. The rise of trends like personalized marketing at scale, conversational marketing, immersive AR/VR experiences, account-based marketing, and a growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices highlight the need for companies to stay ahead of the curve. These trends are not just fleeting shifts but signal a fundamental change in marketing operations, emphasizing the importance of innovation, data utilization, and customer engagement in a highly competitive digital landscape.
Looking ahead, marketing operations will continue to face new challenges and opportunities. Overcoming data privacy concerns, navigating tighter security and privacy regulations, and preventing an over-reliance on technology are just some of the hurdles ahead. The future of marketing operations lies in breaking down departmental silos, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and adapting to an ever-changing environment. This dynamic scenario calls for marketers to be agile, innovative, and proactive in shaping the future of their brands. In this rapidly evolving landscape, the companies that can effectively harness these trends, adapt to new challenges, and continuously innovate will be the ones that not only survive but thrive in the coming years.