Twitter to sales force automation, mobile marketing to virals
Natasha Lomas takes a look at the technologies that should be on every sales and marketing department's radar in 2010.
With budgets unlikely to grow next year, it's perhaps unsurprising that one of the dominant themes for sales and marketing departments in 2010 will be doing more with less - making the most of lower cost opportunities for marketing and cross-selling wherever you can.
At the same time, marketers will need to respond to the underlying turmoil within the industry caused by audiences fragmenting across multiple platforms, both online and off.
And while changes in media consumption habits are likely to play out over the long term - a decade or more - in the short term, it means that marketers and salespeople need to make sure they're using the right media to engage with consumers.
With all of these new channels opening up, 2010 should also see sales and marketing departments prioritising the tools to both manage cross-platform campaigns and assess their success.
All about online
In unforgiving economic times ROI rules with an iron fist.
As a result, the areas most widely felt to offer the worst return on investment are suffering - which means next year marketing budgets will continue to be channelled away from traditional advertising. Meanwhile, online channels are expected to pick up some of this cash, according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Mark Stuart, head of research at the CIM, told silicon.com: "The interesting thing about online advertising is that whereas all other areas of advertising are declining quite rapidly and they're not bringing in the ROI that they used to, online is particularly bucking this trend and we're seeing a very strong increase in online advertising.
"I think that's where, over the next year or so, the interest is going to lie."
The CIM's 2009 Marketing Trends Survey report names 'online activities including blogs and viral social media' as the area of marketing expected to see the highest growth this year.
Stuart added that around one in six marketers are already spending more on online than offline - a figure that's expected to rise to around 50 per cent in the next five years.
"There is definitely this move to online," he said, "and although print isn't dead by any means… the tide is definitely turning and we think the greatest opportunities lie in digital."
Analyst Gartner also tips online as an area for investment. Gene Alvarez, Gartner's VP of CRM and ecommerce, told silicon.com: "As a result of [flat marketing budgets] the technologies that marketing organisations will focus on will be in the online arena… because of the lower cost of that channel as well as the larger reach."
Tapping up the social web
According to Alvarez, spending will be diverted from traditional marketing into online areas including "investment in communities".
For 'communities', read social networks such as Facebook along with initiatives involving "social software" such as microblogging service Twitter. Alvarez predicts marketers will make use of Twitter to run promotions, promote brands and "to remain in contact with the consumer or customer" on the cheap.
The CIM's Stuart added: "As you might expect the latent power of social networking hasn't been reached and blogs and viral are going to be looked at a lot more over the next year or so."
Richard Holway, director of analyst house TechMarketView, also predicts a mainstream role for social networking.
"Brands [will] include social marketing in their overall mainstream plans - social marketing matures from ad hoc experiments to broad implementation," he said.
Taking the bounce-back out of email
As another relatively inexpensive way to get marketing messages out, email's store is also rising. A recent survey of marketing managers by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found more than two-thirds are predicting an increase in spending on email marketing next year despite overall marketing budget cuts.
Tech tools that help marketers manage their sender reputation, minimise email bounce-backs and boost deliverability rates are also therefore likely to be on the radar of chief marketing officers next year.
As advertisers increasingly produce campaigns that work across multiple platforms - web, TV and mobile - marketing departments and ad agencies will need new tools to help them manage these cross-platform campaigns.
"As audiences fragment across through lots of different digital channels, you need to go and buy yourself tech that enables you to manage how you advertise across all of those different channels, and how you measure how your audience is engaged with all of that content," Adrian Drury, principal media, broadcast and telecoms analyst at Ovum, said.
According to Drury, digital asset management and business intelligence are key technologies in this space.
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Digital asset management platforms offer the ability to track the use and usage rights of digital assets such as photography and video. Meanwhile, business intelligence (BI) software helps businesses gather and interpret data to make more informed decisions. In a marketing sense BI could be applied to data from a social network to analyse how a particular product or campaign is being received, for example.
Companies are already investing large amounts in sophisticated business analytics and business intelligence systems to enable them to better analyse their audience or customer data, allowing them to see if they're getting the most out of their marketing spend, Drury said.
Automation and CRM
Michael Gerard, VP of analyst IDC's sales advisory practice, identifies automation in both sales and marketing as a hot tech area for 2010.
"Marketing and sales automation were and continue to be key investments areas for marketing and sales execs since the downturn hit in 2009," he told silicon.com. "Investment in these areas will prove to be key productivity drivers moving into 2010."
On the sales side, Gerard points to sales enablement, customer intelligence aggregators, refinement and expansion of sales force automation and CRM capabilities as specific areas being looked at.
Gartner's Alvarez also notes continued investment in sales force automation - at least for large corporates. Other tech areas he reckons will be on sales directors' radars in 2010 are price optimisation - for large corporates involved with complex selling - along with incentive compensation management and commission management.
A mobile feast
With 2009 the year of the app store launch, 2010 is likely to see an avalanche of apps - so savvy sales directors and marketing chiefs should certainly not neglect mobile.
"There's a definite trend towards [mobile marketing]," notes the CIM's Stuart. "Mobile hasn't anywhere near reached its potential."
Other mobile areas of interest for next year according to Gartner's Alvarez include SMS for mobile marketing and mobile sales force automation.