The marketing technology vertical has almost quadrupled in the last two years. According to Chief Marketing Technologist, there were more than 1,900 vendors at the beginning of 2015 in this highly competitive industry—each offering a free trial (and the world) for those smart enough to choose it. There are so many digital marketing tools and solutions that it can be hard to grasp where to even begin shopping and evaluating, let alone making a purchase decision.
Allow me to offer a starting point: For every tool that you’re going to purchase (even just to try), its output must be in real-time.
There are two reasons for this real-time approach:
1. People Don’t Value Data as Much as You Think
Have you noticed how most marketers now take pride in being very data-driven? Well, it appears that they actually do too little with the data they have.
A study commissioned by Sybase and conducted by the University of Texas found that the median Fortune 1000 company could increase its revenue by more than $2 billion a year if it increased data usability by 10 percent. Those are big companies with loads of resources, manpower, and tools. And yet, they still do too little. Why? I say again—it’s because people don’t value data as much as you think.
If you’re in marketing, you are producing so much data that you’re not even aware of large chunks of it, nor can you do much with the part you are aware of. According to a new survey, “More than 39 percent of senior marketing executives question the value of data generated by analytics. They don’t think the information gleaned is useful to their businesses.” This obviously explains, to some extent, why people don’t value data. But there’s another element here:
2. There Are Risks For Acting
In a way, these marketers are very right in not taking action on the data they’re unsure of. There are risks in acting according to your data. The most apparent risk is coming up with the wrong conclusion or solution from that data analysis.
But there’s another, more hidden risk as well: time.
At BrightInfo, we just completed research on gated content and its contribution to lead generation. The data says that for every 10 percent increase in the gated-to-free content ratio, the conversion rate increases by four percent.
Say you abide by the data and start writing more gated content. This would take weeks, at best, before the new content is live. Doing things right takes time. And by the time you’re done analyzing, convincing your team of the importance of your insights, allocating resources and addressing the new needs with new content or tools or rules, the industry focus might have shifted to new hot topics. Your audience might have changed its behavior again, rendering your efforts in vain.
The Time Is Always Right for Real-Time Tools
Which brings me back to that real-time thing: Data is only useful if it is actionable in real-time. Sadly, it’s impossible for humans to collect, analyze and act upon large quantities of data. The answer, therefore, has to be an automated tool.
Let’s use a different approach to take on that insight from the BrightInfo research I mentioned. Instead of trying to guess which new topics to write about, wouldn’t it be better to have a tool that understands the user’s interests and then automatically, dynamically and in real-time directs the user to the most relevant gated content?
It’s hard to tell what the future will look like in this very crowded marketing technology market. But I predict that only real-time solutions will be here in the end. Make sure you ride the winning horses there.