For many marketers, technology can often be a daunting aspect to the industry that we operate in. However, it plays a crucial role in digital marketing today, and the future success of omni-channel marketing. Over time, commerce has continuously evolved. From the beginning of civilization, simple trade turned into mass production and sales. With that came dedicated marketing departments, then marketing agencies, and now companies that are dedicated to specific aspects of marketing such as print or social media. This has outlined a trend of regular updates and changes throughout the history of the marketing world. It's clear that this is a trend that will not be slowing down anytime soon. "We are only at the beginning of being digital and fresh ideas can be found everywhere" - Y&R Chairman and CEO- David Sable (2012)

Marketing Evolution

This quote still holds true today. Marketing is optimized when you join all of your channels together in order to function towards one common goal. This can be difficult when marketing itself and the possibilities that lie within new and existing channels continue to evolve. This leads to the maturity levels of marketers struggling to keep up with these changes. While only 5% of companies are successfully integrating the most updated technology together, the rest of us are still understanding how omni-channel strategies are going to work for us. Technology. Is it our best friend? Our worst enemy? Technology continues to foster new capabilities, and with that, new ideas. Who can possibly keep up with all of the ideas that the technology landscape is bringing to the table. When it comes to harnessing technology for marketing purposes, we now have the capabilities for testing content, hosting videos, serving ads, among many other opportunities. Keeping track of all of these categories can be tedious and overwhelming. However, it is not important to necessarily try and figure out each and every one of these technologies, but to find a scope for you and your customer. Figure out what you are trying to do for them, the relationship that you want to build, and the technology necessary to accomplish that.

Common Denominator

Regardless of the individual scope for your specific project, we will all have one thing in common with our marketing strategies…and that is data. Integrated marketing will only be effective by leveraging technology to understand consumer patterns, behavior, context, and location in order to pinpoint real-time opportunities to engage with them. The purpose of data is to be smart about how we interact with our customers moving forward. You want to create value in your products and services. That value can be formulated by knowing your customers and understanding their audience. We have to be smarter about how we segment and learn about these groups of people, and technology helps us to do that. While a 360 degree understanding of a consumer may have been a simpler task in the past, it has actually become quite complex.

Finding Your Audience

You need to understand the pulse of your target audience, and feel their heartbeat. This requires knowing them inside out, both online and offline. You can get a solid grip on them through personal, social, location, event, and psychological profiling. Gathering data in all of these funnels to truly create a full picture of the audience you are trying to serve. This could mean different things to different brands, but at the end of the day it's all driven by data. Utilize the information you gain about your audience to help create valuable content, and help pinpoint potential opportunities to present this content to them and match up those opportunities. While context may be key, content is still kind. By presenting the right content in the proper context to your consumers, you create value for your brand. Interacting with your audience at the right time will grab their attention. But it is data and technology that help you to hyper-personalize those customer interactions, making them even more valuable to your business. If the consumer doesn't feel the personal touch in every interaction, you lose their interest in organically moving forward with your brand. Technology has given us the opportunity to create a solid integrated marketing strategy, and track and nurture these relationships through detailed data. Allowing you to form long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Don't Fear Data

While the amount of technology and information revolving the digital marketing world today, narrowing your scope and understanding what your specific brand needs in order to succeed helps to successfully bring your efforts together. It allows you to learn and optimize the knowledge of your customer, and the experience you want to provide them with. Ultimately, data allows us to gather knowledge. We get to focus on the desired relationship, and use technology to make it happen. Because of this, data should never be an afterthought. It should be planned from the very beginning, and used as a fundamental part of your marketing strategy. Focus on investing in technology that is specifically designed to meet the individual needs of your business, and leverage that to build relationships; one customer at a time.