The hype around Artificial Intelligence will drive vendors and internal data science teams to try and apply recent advancements towards marketing optimization solutions – especially recent approaches in “deep learning”, for example using Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), or the various emerging architectures of Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN), to name a few. Such strategic initiatives will challenge marketing departments to recruit more sophisticated AI talent and oversee complicated R&D processes, traditionally not managed by CMOs, and many will need to seek out more advanced expertise to select between technology vendors and their sometimes vague, fluffy marketing collateral.
Many marketing departments will fail to successfully harness those new AI approaches due to significant underestimation of the expertise and time required. Some CMOs will look to bring such initiatives into the marketing organization, instead of collaborating with a BI/analytics/data science group, increasing the demand for statisticians and AI experts with significant marketing background at the junior to mid-management levels.
The makeup of marketing teams will change drastically—and this will make recruiting a challenge. 2018 will see marketing departments undergo an organizational change, moving away from a channel-oriented structure (with independent teams for SEM, display, email etc.) toward groups that bring together creative folks with data-savvy “marketicians”. Fueled by the continued adoption of marketing automation platforms, these “marketicians” will have the skills required to operate and manage such platforms, while their colleagues focus on coming up with creative, emotionally intelligent and effective customer communications. These two trends will make recruiting and training marketers a bigger challenge for organizations in 2018. CMOs will spend a larger portion of their time creating and growing a competitive advantage through a team able to manage and execute creative marketing approaches, as well as selecting and integrating the right technological platforms.
Personalization will continue to reign supreme in the battle for customers’ loyalty — and wallets.
Personalization — across all marketing channels and customer experiences — will continue to help brands overcome loyalty challenges. To maintain their edge, they will have to turn to the right technologies: omnichannel marketing orchestration analytics and optimization platforms, website / mobile continuous A/B testing and optimization, advanced product recommendation engines, and data-driven application of promotional offers — to name a few. From a methodological perspective, successful marketing departments will continue to move away from a modus operandi based on a small number of customer “personas” going through a small set of pre-defined fixed “journeys”, towards much finer granularity in both customer attributes and campaigns.