The marketing landscape is almost unrecognizable to that of a decade or two ago. Serving customer needs is still the foundation of most product and service offerings, but the process has been made far more effective thanks to technological advances. The online landscape has probably made the single biggest difference to marketing in terms of research, finding customers, and promoting to them.
Areas where technology has changed marketing include:
There are so many more options now compared to the basic print and broadcast media alternatives of yesteryear. Websites act as a 24-hour brochure and sales medium and provide a way of interacting and building relationships with clients and prospects through opt-in mailing lists, blogs and video to name but three.
The advent of social media helps many businesses build relationships with prospective and existing customers alike. It’s a vital part of the marketing mix: according to a recent survey the average American spends 37 minutes per day engaging with social media in one form or another.
The use of social media and other forms of engagement to ‘warm up’ the prospect often acts as a prelude to permission marketing – where consent has been given by the prospect to provide them directly with marketing offers.
Database technology has made it much easier to segment customer and prospect lists, thus facilitating targeted marketing both online and offline. This goes hand in hand with the ability now to have shorter and more cost-effective print runs of marketing materials thanks to the advancements in printing equipment technology, such as sheet-fed presses which offer nearly double the throughout speeds than they did two-three decades ago.
Email marketing is a very cost-effective and targeted way of doing business.
The advances in telephony have revolutionized the use of call centers both inbound and outbound for marketing purposes along with servicing existing customers.
Businesses can make their promotional media far more flexible to the needs of prospective customers whether digital or print; again, sophisticated databases and advancements in short run printing help here. Email, websites, and social media make customer contact quick and effective.
The boom in smartphone and tablet use means more people are online more often, so reaching them through social media and advertising is potentially more frequent. The use of mobile apps means customers engage with brands more and more. It’s a huge growth area; according to e-Marketer there will be over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2016.
Sales personnel can far more easily research their prospects and tailor presentations and provide information to their specific needs. The costs of sales activities are drastically reduced with the advent of remote communications such as teleconferencing.
This is perhaps one of the biggest differences technology has made to marketing. Some niches would previously have been considered too small to cost-effectively service, but now it’s far easier to reach more people in a given niche that makes some worth entering.
Technology has revolutionized the marketing activities of many organizations, but the challenge is to keep on top of what’s available. One thing’s for sure – most competitors will be.