When the first manned hot air balloon ascended over Paris in 1783, one observer questioned the utility of such an effort. Overhearing this shortsighted remark, Benjamin Franklin famously quipped, “What use is a newborn baby?” It is with Franklin’s sense of optimism and curiosity that we asked a panel of experts what new tool or application they thought will have the biggest impact on their business or their customer’s businesses in 2017.
As it turns out, many of the tools they recommend are not new, per se, but they are about to reach new heights and like the first hot air balloon (or Kanye’s rocketship) noted above, they will undoubtedly inspire further investigation and creativity.
1. Bigger Uses of Bitly:
Tamara McCleary, CEO, Thulium
Most of us think of bitly as simply a link shortener for social media. Bitly is far more powerful than that. Using bitly, Enterprise customers, even free customers, develop a much better understanding of who, when and how their links are being opened.
This data not only helps companies verify successful social (and email) campaigns but also demonstrates those campaigns, which aren’t working. Bitly isn’t “new” per se, but I think bitly is a great tool which many are failing to use effectively. It’s not the data that moves us into opportunity within the digital era, but rather, it’s how quickly we have access to relevant data and how we use the information that determines our ultimate success in digital transformation.
2. Well-Planned Marketing Automation Systems:
Jason Falls, Founder, Partner, Conversation Research Institute
A friend of mine has a business where he publishes social content, promotes it, supports it with pay-per-click and it all drives people to sign up for a webinar. The webinar shows off his software and makes a strong business case for it.
The webinar airs three times a week. People sign up, get reminders, show up for the webinar, which is run automatically, he dials in on the last 10 minutes to answer questions and like clockwork, 10-15 more people sign up for his software after the webinar is concluded. It sounds simple, but the process of building the system was about 150 hours worth of work. But once the planning was done and the mechanism was built, he just pushes a couple of buttons a week and grows his business. He’s connected to it enough to be personalized and accessible, but the engine cranks and he gets customers. We should all hope for that!
3. Predictive Analytics:
Brian Kardon, CMO, Fuze
There is simply too much “art” amongst sales teams today. Predictive analytics is having a huge impact here at my company by applying data science to identify accounts most likely to buy from us. Instead of calling on a very broad set of accounts, data science identifies the attributes of companies most likely to want to buy from us. We are using this data-driven target account list as the basis for territory management and account-based selling and marketing. Predictive analytics is an absolutely transformational technology.
4. Business Intelligence:
Kelly Wenzel, CMO, Centro
Our customers (media agencies and advertisers) are increasingly interested in an automated way to buy digital video ads. Buying ads on “connected TVs” is still uncharted territory for most marketers. A lot of tech companies are trying to solve for this and the slow adoption is demonstrating how large a challenge this is. For Centro, I see business intelligence continuing to gain momentum. Having accurate, timely information available on-demand has enabled much greater tuning and optimization of our marketing programs.
5. Employee Advocacy Platforms:
Konstanze Alex, Corporate Social Influencer Relations, Dell
For large companies specifically, I believe a platform for employee social sharing, like EveryoneSocial, will have an immense impact once a critical mass of adoption has been reached and employees understand to make it their own (i.e. not simply amplifying but adding their own perspective to each post). This will have a massive impact on a company’s overall social selling goals.
6. Integrated Advocacy Platforms:
Martin Jones, Sr. Marketing Manager, Cox Communications
We’re currently in the middle of launching a new employee advocacy and social influencer program that I believe will have a significant impact on our business in 2017. We’ve worked hard this past year to integrate several technologies and platforms to ensure we have a best-in-class offering, and I’m excited with what we’ve built.
7. Machine Learning:
Seth Grimes, President & Principal Consultant, Alta Plana Corporation
Machine learning will have the biggest impact of any emerging tech for just about any enterprise-scale business. Don’t listen to pundits who call “Hype” and argue otherwise. Consumer electronics, transportation, manufacturing, logistics, services, and marketing: Machine learning is busy advancing them all.
8. Cognitive Computing via Watson:
Brian Moran, Founder & CEO, Brian Moran & Associates
If and when the 50+ APIs of Watson make it down into the small business market, then business owners will TRULY have access to their big data to use effectively to compete against larger competitors. Watson has the potential to be a market equalizer.
What marketing tools are transforming your business? Let us know!