Here’s How Marketing Tech Is Different This Holiday Season

Three marketers tell us what new trends and tools they’re seeing in actual use this year, compared to last.

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Like parents with young children, marketers with marketing technology can see a new level of maturity in each new holiday season.

As we enter this year’s holidays, I checked with three marketers to find out what differences they’re seeing in marketing tech at the ground level, compared with just a year ago.

Campaign Monitor CMO Kraig Swensrud, whose company enables email campaigns for two million customers, says that these small-to-medium-sized businesses “simply want do-it-yourself.”

More than in previous years, he said, SMBs now expect one-click integration or something close to that. He said this has resulted in more common integrations between email and online stores, like Shopify and Magento, so that emails can be targeted based on purchase history or shopping cart abandonment.

A few years ago, he said, could he have connected his own email marketing campaign to a landing page created in Unbounce and a store in Shopify?

“Absolutely not.”

A/B testing this year also “seems more significant,” he noted, crediting Optimizely for showing “there’s such a thing as do-it-yourself A/B testing.” Such testing has now “seeped into marketing organizations,” he said, becoming “a core competency in email marketing.”

Data Connectors

From his perspective as CMO of ad retargeting firm AdRoll, Adam Berke described some similar trends.

Marketers, he noted, are saying, “‘I don’t care if the email is in MailChimp and the retargeting is in AdRoll, I want them together.’”

For that reason, AdRoll has been busily building data connectors. They’ve completed 10 in the last 12 months, Berke said, between the AdRoll platform and MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Shopify, Marketo and others.

Connectors have “totally exploded,” he said, with more being developed by his company in the last months than in its entire eight-year history.

That growing expectation of connectivity also extends to the growing number of marketing channels, he said.

“If somebody buys a particular [marketing tool],” Berke said, “they want their [ad] targeting strategy and email strategy to shift.”

Speaking of targeting, Campaign Monitor’s Swensrud sees “hyper-targeting and advanced personalization [as] much more prevalent” this year. Those capabilities existed last year, he noted, but they were more basic, like sending you an email with your name.

Now, he said, email marketing commonly enables dynamic content, where “the images in an email [campaign] change, depending on who you’re sending an email to.”

Targeting Tech

Berke noted that there’s more of an adoption of newer targeting technologies, particularly among the highly competitive retail sectors.

He pointed to the popularity of AdRoll’s new IntentMap, which aggregates anonymous data from clients for the purposes of “identifying users who have never been to your site” but who “act like” your customers. If they act like your customers, they could become your new customers.

“We say people who go to site A, B and C [then] will go to site D,” he said. Already, about 2,100 client companies are using and sharing this data.

For segmenting customers in a targeted campaign, Animoto CEO Brad Jefferson told me, it’s easier this year to do “cohort analyses by a time period” to target a group of users by, say, a given season.

Animoto offers a cloud-based service that creates slideshow-based videos from photos, videos and music. Fortunately for his company, he sees another trend this year as being a lot more video in Facebook’s News Feed.

This is potentially good news for marketers. A study done by Animoto earlier this year found that four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Emails more commonly contain videos now, Jefferson said, whereas videos in email last year “had a lot of problems.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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