The Technology Marketers Must See

Marketers selling the sizzle want hot tech. That’s why we sought out thought leaders who could wade through the thousands of tools available to help brands finish first. Here, we describe the best marketing technology to help fit programs together for an optimal customer experience — which is what all of our thought leaders said matters most.

A few of Target Marketing’s sources highlighted how humans are newly valued as marketing tools, especially when they can create a great marketing mix fueled by seamless customer touchpoints. But the winning technology thought leaders envisioned tying it all together was, hands-down, artificial intelligence (AI).

Continuing with that seamless customer experience theme, our sources named other top tech with uses that crossed channels — sometimes in ways that blend so much they can’t be separated. For instance, Jonathan Levey — senior digital marketing manager with Flexjet — said content marketing via mobile push notifications is invaluable for travel brands.

So here we’ll explore how AI, Web, data-backed and mobile tools are set to revolutionize marketing, and some of the top tools making that happen.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is coming into its own. And Chuck White, principal at Battery Creative and a former senior creative director for user experience at Comcast, sums it up as so: “One thing I think is [hot is] the ongoing evolution of AI for easy, conversational interactions, with the ability to consistently have that conversation across channels and also the ability to quickly transition to a person at any point where the AI isn’t meeting the customer’s needs.”

Liz Kislik — a management consultant and coach, and a Target Marketing editorial board member — says AI may provide another layer before consumers reach a human.

Nuance’s “Nina” for Amazon Alexa is an “intelligent enterprise virtual assistant” that plugs into marketers’ CRM systems and allows consumers to reach bank, airline, telecommunications and retail brands’ customer service lines “across Web, mobile, IVR, Messaging, (e.g., Facebook Messenger and SMS), and now IoT channels such as the Amazon Echo via Alexa” without dialing. Amazon Alexa is the interface for the services and Nina powers the back end, including the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Dialog. Click here to see a demonstration.

“People are more and more comfortable talking to machines (see the ‘SNL’ sketch of older people talking to Amazon’s Alexa), and there are real opportunities in the IVR [interactive voice response] context, where callers can route themselves with their own natural language instead of clawing their way through layers of menus, or where they prefer the anonymity of consulting FAQs rather than live reps,” she says. “Both live and recorded calls can be processed as speech-to-text and assessed to learn what customers really want, to provide on-the-fly prompts for targeted cross-sells and upsells, and to generate the background data for everything from profiles and [personas] to customer journey mapping and branding.”

She cautions that businesses exploring this route must be very careful about research, decision-making and leadership follow-through.