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7 Marketing Technology Trends for 2024

  • Marketing technology trends in 2024 include the year we finally incorporate AI at scale but also get back to basics.

  • MACH's shift to business value. The conversation about composability and headless must be about business value, not geekery. MACH's evolution highlights a focus on solving real business problems, moving beyond technical features to practical applications in marketing. ( * MACH - Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless)

  • AI-powered marketing: beyond the hype. AI in 2024 transcends its buzzword status. Marketers are now applying AI to solve complex problems, indicating a shift from novelty to necessity in marketing technology.

  • The dawn of true personalization. Personalization reaches a new level of sophistication in 2024. AI will enable seamless, scalable personalization, marking a significant advancement in how marketers understand and cater to individual customer needs.

This year stands as a pivotal year for marketing technology trends. Marketers need to embrace and strategically incorporate these advancements into their marketing strategies. And they need to figure out how to best leverage their marketing technology amid a chaotic landscape of more than 11,000 tools.

And what marketing technology trends are we talking about? This year’s marketing technology trends are a mosaic of advanced tools and approaches, reshaping our interaction and connection with audiences.

Marketing technology experts emphasized the crucial role of personalization, the emergence of AI-driven analytics and the increased adoption of customer data platforms (CDPs) and other tools as leading marketing technology trends. These are not just isolated tools; they are integral components of a complex marketing technology ecosystem. For marketers, the challenge is in harmoniously integrating these trends to craft a holistic and impactful marketing approach.

We’re in a “profound inflection point” for marketing technology, or martech, according to a Jan. 1 blog by Scott Brinker, the "Godfather of Martech" who runs the Chief Marketing Technologist blog.

“Will such exponential growth in martech system complexity be a good thing?” Brinker asked. “Truthfully, it’s hard to predict. As noted, humans aren’t great at comprehending exponential complexity. But I think the answer will be yes. Why? Because customers and markets are complex. Enabling our martech systems to adapt to that complexity with far greater fluidity than we could have ever dreamed of in the past has the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing.”

Without further ado, here are some top marketing technology trends as told by three industry experts we caught up with to set the foundation for marketing technology utilization in 2024.

The Evolution of MACH and Its Business Value

The conversation about composability and headless must be about business value, "not geekery," according to Ian Truscott, independent marketing strategist at Rockstar CMO and CMSWire Contributor. He emphasizes the shift in the value proposition of MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless).

While MACH has reached its peak as a differentiator, its role in solving real business problems remains crucial. This trend signifies a move away from technical jargon toward tangible business outcomes.

“It’s the latest salvo in the 100-year war that is ‘monolith’ versus ‘best-of-breed,’” Truscott said. “The industry has been down this path before, specifically the CMS industry, not just with open source but with cloud solutions. We argued about true SaaS and cloud, and the market decided. If SaaS had been so important to buyers, Crownpeak would have ruled the school two decades ago, and the enterprise needed Acquia to put a business suit on open-source Drupal. And while I am riding around on my early 2000’s hobby horse, does anyone remember JSR170, the interoperability content standard that would bust the silos? Nope, I thought not.”

AI-Powered Solutions Beyond Buzzwords

The year 2024 will see AI transcending its role as a mere buzzword. Truscott noted, "AI will ‘earn its keep,’" pointing to a Robert Rose line in his This Old Marketing podcast.

The focus is now on how AI solves complex marketing problems, from conversational advertising to behind-the-scenes marketing operations. This trend indicates a shift from AI as a novelty to AI as an integral, functional component in marketing technology.

“Being ‘AI-powered’ has the same fate in 2024, in that it’s not good enough to claim being AI-powered as a differentiating value statement,” Truscott said. “The ease of access to the tools being provided by big tech makes this ubiquitous, especially around synthetic content creation. What will become more interesting is how AI Is applied to solve tougher marketing problems.”

Rose suggests conversational advertising and behind-the-scenes marketing work. Truscott agrees we will see some really interesting use cases.

“The fear I have here is that this could favor the big vendors, with their bigger data sets and development budgets, but the democratization of access to AI, through services like OpenAI, will provide opportunities for disruption to established martech categories and vendors, plus, of course, the opportunity to leverage AI to develop products faster will feed innovation,” he added.

The Realization of Personalization

Personalization is set to reach new heights in 2024. Truscott pointed out, "I don’t mean the {first_name} in email bollocks; I mean seamless, at scale, service from an invisible content-serving butler.” AI plays a pivotal role in enabling this sophisticated level of personalization, allowing marketers to understand content and audience needs more deeply.

Reaching even further back into marketing history and 1993’s Peppers and Rogers “One to One Future,” 2024 could finally be the year for personalization, according to Truscott.

“The challenge with personalization has always been not just understanding the audience and their needs and wants,” Truscott said. “We have that. It’s been about understanding our content and then creating and repurposing content at the scale needed once you start slicing and dicing your audience into these 1:1 moments. AI gives us this.”

Personalization features will finally "come of age" with the growing maturity of generative AI capabilities in martech platforms and the growing pressure for marketers to offer true omnichannel experiences, according to Greg Kihlström, principal, The Agile Brand, and a CMSWire Contributor.

“We are looking at the convergence of big data, personalization and now generative AI, which will finally mean the year of real-world personalization is here,” Kihlström said. “Enterprises will lead the charge here, but smaller brands will soon follow as generative AI tools grow in sophistication for all sizes of companies.”

The Resurgence of Marketing Basics

Amidst technological advancements, core marketing fundamentals are making a comeback, driven by privacy concerns, third-party cookie changes, the limitations of social media platforms and how big tech will use privacy and cookie changes to reinforce their walled gardens, according to Truscott.

"Marketers will value owned audiences, media and platforms," he added. This trend highlights the growing importance of channels like email, web experience, customer relationship management (CRM), customer data platforms (CDPs) and even print.

Merging Online and Offline Experiences

The connection between digital and physical experiences is becoming more crucial. Truscott discussed the need for technology that enables professional, real-time hybrid events, reflecting a change in how physical and virtual experiences are integrated.

“We have seen the near-death of Twitter as a community digital backchannel at physical events, and marketers miss the value this adds to events,” he said. “Where Twitter was ubiquitous, business social media has become fractured, and I think physical events have become devalued with being unable to create that buzz, where a hashtag was almost an event’s digital twin. Plus, the world has changed, and we are much more inclined to be remote, so I think we will increasingly see the adoption of technology that enables the production of professional, real-time hybrid physical and virtual events.”

The Great Reconciliation in AI Tools

Kihlström predicts a significant consolidation in the martech space. "The Great Reconciliation will happen this year," he said, referring to the merging of standalone AI tools with established martech platforms. This trend suggests a more streamlined, powerful set of tools emerging by the end of the year.

“This means a lot of M&A activity, and a lot of startups will struggle to find footing amongst stiff competition from legacy players,” Kihlström said. “Expect a more focused field of AI-only tools by end of year, and for the platforms you've known and used for years to incorporate many of the features that upstart platforms innovated and (in some cases) invented last year.”

Data Management as a Key Focus

Anita Brearton, founder/CEO of CabinetM and a CMSWire Contributor, emphasized the importance of data management. "Anything that will help companies manage their data is going to be extremely important this year," she said. Effective use of AI in marketing hinges on clean and complete datasets, highlighting the need for robust data management practices.

“At the macro level anything that will help companies manage their data is going to be extremely important this year,” Brearton said. “This includes data acquisition, cleansing, compliance, analysis, rationalization, distribution and activation. AI technologies, which are evolving rapidly, offer enormous potential for micro-targeting and creating personalized customer journeys at scale, and are poised to fundamentally change how we market to prospects and customers.”

That said, Brearton cautioned that to be effective, they need a clean and complete data set to leverage. “Companies that don’t address the fundamentals of data management,” she said, “are going to be quickly left behind. I continue to be surprised at the number of companies that don’t have a documented data architecture and all that comes with it.”

Embracing 2024's Marketing Technology Trends: Innovating for Growth and Engagement

Concluding our journey through the marketing technology trends of 2024, it's evident the synergy of AI, personalization and tools like CDPs within these trends offers marketers an opportunity to break new ground in audience engagement. The real test, however, is in navigating the vast sea of marketing technologies available.

It really does feel like a “back to the basics” type year in some sense. In another sense, it’s all about new and fascinating tools like generative AI. Where these two dynamics intersect seems to be where marketers will win.

Marketers must evolve from mere adopters to innovators within this space. The goal is to strike a balance between the ingenuity of human creativity and the precision of technological advancement. By weaving these marketing technology trends into their strategies, marketers can not only elevate customer experiences but also garner deeper insights, optimize their operations and drive substantial growth.

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