The sheer number of marketing applications offered as downloads or services is exploding. Everyone wants in on the real-time marketing game, likely because as the U.S. and the world come out of an extended economic downturn, there are few places more ripe for automation leading to efficiency than how we market and sell goods. What’s more, the fast rise of smartphones, maturation of Internet selling models, and high-speed analytics create a technology opportunity for customer engagement that’s hard to ignore for most software vendors.
But like everything that arrives quickly (think: Web companies in the ‘90s), the marketing boom will eventually sort itself out—there will be platforms which brought real value to marketers and those which brought…um…just great marketing.
So who will win and who will lose?
Data-Agnostic and Integration-Ready Marketing Platforms
The winners will be the platforms that have two characteristics: They are data source-agnostic and are able to integrate with other platforms across the marketing ecosystem.
Data source-agnostic — We market in a highly contextual world, and that context flows from many sources today—likely from many more sources tomorrow. Any platform that’s coupled too tightly to specific data sources, or has at its core its own proprietary source of data, won’t be responsive to an evolving marketplace. Experience tells us that marketing is in an ongoing period of rapid change that will alter the landscape enough to render obsolete the platforms that are rigid and data source dependent.
Integration with other platforms — Just like being data source-agnostic, the platforms that will survive will integrate liberally with other platforms, exchanging data and process as necessary to get the larger job of customer engagement done. Self-contained may have been an attractive adjective in a less-connected world, but marketing times have changed and the ability to connect and share information gives marketers more options for understanding context and more ways to engage with the consumer.
The Winner Is…the Open Platform
The real goal of today’s marketer shouldn’t be real-time response to customers, as attractive as that sounds. The goal needs to be right-time marketing that allows the brand to respond to the events that are happening anywhere in the buying environment. It’s the difference between shouting and having a conversation. That means being able to communicate and engage everywhere that matters across a number of platforms: POS, mobile apps, analytics, email services, customer databases, social tools, and whatever comes next. That’s a very integration-rich requirement.
Maybe, most importantly, data-agnostic, integration-ready platforms offer a way to avoid obsolescence of prior IT investments. Everyone likes that one.
This post first appeared on the Loyalty Lab Blog and has been lightly edited.